Kia Sorento PHEV Road Trip: Beers and Beaches on the Oregon Coast
For the sake of comparison, last year at approximately the same time, though with an additional 97 miles driven, a cargo box and the same board strapped to the roof, and a similar volume of cargo and people, I got similar mpg results (38.1 mpg) driving my 2017 Chevy Volt. The Volt is a 4-door hatchback and weighs about 1,000 pounds less than the Sorento PHEV and, like my Sorento, has a large lithium ion battery that gives it the ability to travel several miles on electricity alone before switching over to its gasoline engine to run as a hybrid vehicle. Interestingly, on my trip last year in the Volt, I was able to get 44.6 miles out of the battery (consuming 14.2 kWh to do so) on a full charge, whereas in my Sorento I used about 11 kWh and covered approximately 34 miles. Undoubtedly, the cargo box that was on the roof of my Volt (which has a very small cargo area) significantly impacted the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. But otherwise, the efficiency comparison between the two vehicles is what impresses me the most. I should also point out in both vehicles I drove no faster than about 65 mph, except briefly to pass slower vehicles, for safety reasons (the faster I drive, the more force applied to the paddleboard on the roof). In both cases I also prioritized use of the battery on slower sections of the trip, when speed limits tended to be 55 mph or less and or when driving through small towns or heavy traffic. I was able to get 3 miles per kWh in my Sorento, loaded up with people and stuff, with gear strapped to my roof; clearly, the paddle board and roof racks didn't impact my fuel economy significantly. In the Volt, I got 3.14 miles per kWh, almost identical to the Sorento (within a margin of error at least).
For gasoline mpg comparison, I used approximately 5.9 gallons of gas to drive my Volt an equivalent distance of 189 miles on my trip to Rockaway Beach (removing the extra 97 miles I drove on the Volt trip). That means I got a little better than 32 mpg out of my Volt. I used approximately 6 gallons of gas in the Sorento PHEV to drive the same distance. If I had not have needed to put a cargo box on my roof in the Volt, I certainly would have gotten at least a couple mpg better results in the Volt, and likely a few more miles of electric only range, too. I don’t have any statistics to base this on, but from experience driving other shorter trips without the cargo box on my roof but with the paddle board on, I estimate I would have gotten about 35 mpg or better in the Volt and about 49 miles of electric range on the battery had I also not had the cargo box on the trip to Rockaway Beach. I should point out there are lots of steep grades going up and down along the route, especially once you cross into Oregon, and that dings the fuel economy a bit.
Finally, a little more information about the drive in the Sorento PHEV, for those that care for such details. We drove directly from our house in the Seattle suburbs via Interstate 5 south to Kelso, WA to cross over the Columbia River that separates Washington from Oregon. We took Highway 30 from there to Astoria, OR to stop at Fort George Brewery for lunch and of course, some mighty fine brew (I liked the Astoria Euphoria and Skies of Wonder (Just Friends), best). For that first leg of the trip, 174.6 miles, we got a combined 36.5 mpg. We completed our route along the coast on Highway 101 for the final 48.6 miles and even saw an EV6 as we coasted through the small town of Wheeler, OR just north of our destination. We got a combined 56.7 mpg for that final leg as I used up the majority of the battery on this stretch along the slower moving coastal highway. It’s a beautiful trip with winding, tree lined sections and expansive coastal views that take your breath away. If you’re a fan of beautiful beaches, fantastic craft brews, or maybe just The Goonies, it’s definitely a trip worth taking. Cheers!
All photos courtesy of author, Justin Hart.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.