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Long Distances In The Sorento Plug-In Hybrid, Without Charging, Still Yield Good Fuel Economy

This past weekend I took my longest road trip yet in which I wasn’t able to charge my Kia Sorento Plug-In hybrid, much, while stopped en route. Out of 526 total miles of driving on this trip, I only covered about 10% of my total miles on electricity stored from the grid. This is a scenario many could find themselves in on a long cross country drive. But this also means my combined fuel economy was the lowest at any point in the last 13 months of ownership. So how bad was it?

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The answer is, as you might expect for the Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid, not that bad. I ended up getting a combined 34.4 MPG overall. This figure is a weighted average for the drive in total and breaks down as follows: 56.1 MPG for the first 59.6 miles, 31.6 MPG for the next 259.4 miles, and 31.7 MPG for the final 206.9 miles. For those that may want to know what the gas only MPG figure was, excluding any electric only miles, that would be 32.9 MPG, which is also very close to the EPA ratings for this vehicle.

Speaking of details, for those that are curious, here they are. I had a full vehicle, between 3 and 5 adults, a small dog, and all available cargo space filled for nearly the entire distance. I estimate the load to have been between 700 lbs and 1,000 lbs depending on the day. I had on naked roof racks and brand new Bridgestone Blizzak studless snow tires inflated to 40 PSI cold (or about 44 PSI warm). The weather was frequently drizzly to heavy rain in temperatures between 50 and 60F. I drove at about 3-8 MPH over the posted speed limit pretty consistently (as we had appointments to keep at each of the wineries we visited) and about 40% of the miles were in speed limits of 50-60 MPH or less, and the rest was on 70 MPH interstate. I estimate the weight and the snow tires were responsible for about 10% lower fuel efficiency, while the weather and roof racks may have lessened it by another percent. As such, my gasoline only fuel efficiency may have been about 36 MPG if I had my all season tires on, less weight, and better weather.

No doubt, the slower, undulating rural roads of Oregon’s stunningly beautiful Willamette Valley wine country helped us achieve better fuel economy since we were typically driving under 60 MPH on many of those roads. Also of help, the wineries that offered free charging options. One winery in particular, Failla, offered multiple Tesla Destination chargers and was the only place that I managed to get some charge while on this trip. I used an adapter to plug in for a few hours and gained 20 additional miles of range and it was positively refreshing to sip wine while my PHEV sipped electrons! While I was having a snack in the car, a Toyota Rav 4 Prime PHEV parked in front of me and the occupants marveled at how my Kia was able to use a Tesla charger. Apparently, Tesla adapters may not be something fellow PHEV drivers are broadley aware of (they are only worth it if you frequently travel to places that have Tesla destination chargers, which I do).

Zenith Vineyards, Ella-Amity Hills AVA, Oregon

If you happen to love wine as much as I do, and pinot noir in particular, I highly suggest you put a trip to the Willamette Valley on your itinerary. Especially at this time of year, there is a certain mystical quality in the air, as the mists and low slung clouds meander through the forests and slopes that frame the yellowing grape vines, contrasting the gray skies vividly, like fallen slivers of the sun against the green and gray. Cheers, and please leave any questions or comments below.

Wine tasting and PHEV charging with Tesla Destination adapter

Images courtesy of 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.

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