Australian families looking for a seven-seat SUV hybrid will be spoiled for choice next year, with at least three models from which to choose among mainstream brands.
In addition to the Toyota Kluger and updated Hyundai Santa Fe – both of which will be available with hybrid power for the first time in Australia – Kia has confirmed the all-new Sorento will have the choice of both plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid power.
Kia confirmed the arrival of two eco models during this week's media preview for the all-new Sorento.
When asked if there were plans to introduce a hybrid version locally, Kia Australia's Roland Rivero, general manager of product planning, told CarAdvice:
"I'm pleased to announce that, effectively from [Kia head office], they've given us the green light to develop for our market both the plug-in hybrid and the hybrid powertrains for the all-new Sorento. We expect to have the development work and homologation work completed ASAP, as we should see stock arriving early in 2021."
While details have yet to be made available, the 2021 Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid will likely be fitted with a 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine, and coupled with a 67kW electric motor and 14kWh battery.
In fully-electric mode, the plug-in hybrid Sorento is expected to mimic the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, with around 40km of range.
The conventional hybrid powertrain will also use a 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine, but instead will be mated to a 44kW electric motor and 1.5kWh battery to improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions.
Both powertrains will be fitted with six-speed automatic, however it's unknown at this early stage whether the Sorento Hybrid models will be available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Kia Australia boss Damien Meredith forecasts a modest uptake from local buyers: "In the initial stages, we don't see more than 10 to 15 per cent of the mix being hybrid".
The runaway success of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid indicates there is a desire for these electrified SUVs in the Australian market, with the model going on to become Australia's top-selling car in August, after it was awarded Drive's Car of the Year for 2020.
The arrival of the Kia Sorento Hybrid in early 2021 positions the model against the Toyota Kluger Hybrid, also due in the new year, while Hyundai's hybrid offering will be coming in the middle of the year.