2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid

MIAMI — Fully redesigned for 2021, the Kia Sorento gets a new look as it enters its fourth generation along with an upgraded, premium-like interior, and a new hybrid drivetrain for the fuel-conscious consumer. My model for the week, the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX, came packed with all kinds of features included in its $38,205 MSRP (including $1,170 for destination and delivery) while earning fuel mileage ratings of 39 miles-per-gallon city, 35 highway, and 37 combined.

The combination of the electric motor and a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine produces 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which gives this midsize crossover SUV the kind of performance that will make you forget you are driving a hybrid.

The transmission is a 6-speed automatic and comes with paddle shifters should you opt for manual gear selection. You can also choose from a selection of driving modes that include Sport and Smart, though even in Eco mode the Sorento responds to throttle inputs nicely

With a 0-to-60 mph clocking of around 8.6 seconds, it’s not going to slam you back in the seat when you jam the accelerator getting away from an intersection. But you’re not going to be hard-pressed to merge lanes or pass other vehicles in traffic.

The ride is quiet and comfortable, and with the third row of seats folded, you can bring a lot of stuff along with you. There’s plenty of space for a with a week’s worth of groceries with room to spare.

Among standard features on the 2021 Sorento Hybrid EX are an 8-inch touchscreen that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity,  USB chargers in all three rows, keyless entry and push-button start, dual zone automatic climate control, Syntex seating trim (looks good!), heated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs (which reduces passenger capacity to six occupants), and a Driver’s Assist suite of technological features like forward collision alert with pedestrian detection, blind-spot assist, rear-cross traffic alert with collision avoidance assist, and lane-keeping assist.

Exterior standard features include LED headlights and taillights, heated outside mirrors with turn-signal alert, and LED positioning lamps. The 2021 Sorento Hybrid EX rides on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Other features like a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, a height-adjustable power rear liftgate, wireless charging pad, LED fog lights, adaptable (Smart) cruise control, and enhanced  forward collision alert (cyclist and intersection) distinguish the EX from the Sorento Hybrid S trim model that starts at $34,765 including destination and delivery.

The Runway Red paint job added $445 to my test Sorento Hybrid Ex, which raised the total bottom line to $38,205.

What I liked about the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX: It isn’t a plugin. Fooling around with charging a plugin never has appealed to me. A plugin Sorento PHEV is in the works, but I prefer the standard HEV. Technology is plentiful, and the operation of the infotainment functions is very user friendly. The combined mileage number is impressive.

What I didn't like about the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX: Third-row seating is on the snug side, and the storage room when the back-row seats are in place is very limited. Folding those seats opens up a spacious area, however.

Would I buy the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX? Yes. The EX has a long list of standard features included in its base MSRP, including navigation and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so that is a big attraction. It’s a nice size — not too big, not too small.

— Paul Borden