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Twelve different trim levels include available all-wheel-drive, hybrid and new plug-in hybrid models.

DOUG BERGER/NWAPA - The plug-in hybrid version of the 2022 Kia Sorento handled the track well at the latest Northwest Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year competition organized by the Northwest Automotive Press Association.It's no secret that the Korean manufacturers are on a mission to conquer the automotive world. Kia and its corporate sibling Hyundai have released a staggering number of innovative cars and crossovers in recent years, including those from Kia's luxury Genesis brand and Hyundai's electrified Ionic brand. All punch way above their weight limits, offering great value against competitors with reputations for higher quality, like European luxury companies.

Although the all-electric Ionic5 and related Kia EV6 are justifiably generating a lot of buzz now, most consumers aren't ready — or even capable — of making such a switch. For starters, fully electric vehicles require convenient and secure charging options, if only a driveway near a conventional outlet. And even then, surveys show range anxiety is a major worry, even though some of the newest EVs can go 300 miles or more on a single charge.

DOUG BERGER/NWAPA - The all-wheel-drive equipped 2022 Sorento PHEV demonstrated its off-road capabilities at the event otherwise known as Mudfest 2022.

For most potential buyers, the 2022 Sorento is a better showcase for what Kia has to offer. When it was first introduced in 2002, the Sorento was an unexciting but affordable truck-based midsize SUV. After being completely redesigned last year, the fourth-generation version is a class leading three-row crossover with bold styling, a premium interior, advanced tech and a wide range of engine choices — but still at a remarkably affordable price.

The Sorento is now offered in a remarkable 12 trim levels, ensuring that practically every buyer can find one that meets their needs — including those who want to go electric with backup gas power.

COURTESY PHOTO: KIA - The interior of the 2022 Kia Sorento can be ordered with luxury levels of comfort and advanced automotive technologies.

Versions start with the base front-wheel-drive LX that is powered by a normally aspirated 2.5-liter inline 4 that produces 191 horsepower and 181 foot-pounds of torque. An optional turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter engine pumps that up to 281 horsepower and 311 foot pounds of torque. A hybrid version is also available that provides 227 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque and delivers an EPA estimated 37 miles per gallon. And a new plug-in hybrid version can go up to 32 miles on a full charge of electricity before switching over to a convention fuel-saving hybrid mode.

All-wheel-drive with several drive modes is also available. And the upper level models offer near-luxury appointments, with the top-of-the-line SX Prestige Plug-in Hybrid beginning at a reasonable $49,345 before state and federal incentives.

COURTESY PHOTO: KIA - The optional sliding second row captains chairs in the 2022 Kia Sorento makes it reasy to reach the third row.

My tester was an X-Line AWD version with the turbo 4. It was both powerful and comfortable, with a leather interior and two large display screens. The digital gauge package included rear views of each side when the turn signals were activated, a plus in my bicycle crazed town. The ride was firm but not stiff, meaning it went over pot holes and speed bumps without feeling unsettled.

I recently tested the plug-in hybrid version on both track and off-road courses at Mudfest 2022, the annual comparison of outdoor activity vehicles organized by the Northwest Automotive Press Association. It took place at the Ridge Motorsport Park facility outside of Olympia, Washington. The first day consisted of pavement driving on both closed courses and public roads. The second day included varying levels of custom off-road courses.

COURTESY PHOTO: KIA - There is a tremdous amount of cargo space in the 2022 Kia Sorento with the second and third rows of seats foled down.

I picked the Sorento as my top choice in the Mid and Full-size Family category after the first day because of its comfortable ride, ample power (261 horsepower) and promised 32 miles of all-electric range. It can easily be recharged overnight even from a conventional outlet, but still travel long distances in the hybrid mode.

That version of the Sorento was only beaten by the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe on the second day in my mind. Although it "only" offered up to 25 miles of all-electric range, the Jeep was far more powerful (375 horsepower) and far more off-road capable. It was also far more expensive, however, a $64,675. The all-wheel-drive equipped Sorento still handled the light and moderate off-road courses well, however, in part because of its push button locking center differential.

The Sorento PHEV finished second place behind the Jeep in the Mid and Full-Size Family and Electrified Vehicle categories. Both could have gone the other way, however.

COURTESY PHOTO: KIA - The available all-wheel-drive system in the 2022 Kia Sorento features a selector for multiple drive modes for different conditions.

The Sorento slots between the compact Sportage and the larger three-row Telluride in the Kia crossover lineup. While I (and everyone else) have been impressed with the Telluride, the 2022 Sorento offers an impressive amount of interior room and better performance than its more family-oriented bigger brother. That's a winning combination — and another success for Kia.

You can read a Pamplin Media Group review of the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid here.

2022 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD

Base price: $30,560 (LX)

Price as tested: $44,290

Type: Midsize three-row SUV

Engine: Turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter (281 hp, 311 ft-lbs)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Smart, Snow

EPA estimated mileage: 22/29

Overall length: 189.4 inches

Curb weight: 4,100 pounds

Final assembly: Hwasung, Korea


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