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Torque News Staff Compare The Mitsubishi Outlander And Kia Sorento PHEVs

At a reader's request, John Goreham and Justin Hart agreed to “combine” their assessments of two competing 3-row plug-in hybrid (PHEV) SUVs: the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Kia Sorento PHEV. John knows the Outlander better and Justin the Sorento, but both are fans of PHEVs. Because it may be hard to pick a winner without arranging a side by side comparison, the two have answered a set of questions about each vehicle and will make recommendations that our readers will hopefully find useful.

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For a little background on our two reviewers, our first question: Why are you each fans of PHEVs?

Justin: I am a fan of PHEVs for multiple reasons, but the main reasons are: 1. Batteries and other resources are limited now and PHEVs could provide a greater reduction in carbon emissions with relatively scarce components in a shorter timeframe than if we tried to go with only EVs. 2. PHEVs ease people into going all electric and provide a “bridge” until charging infrastructure is what it needs to be to support full EV adoption.

John: I'm a fan of convenience and utility in a daily driver or family vehicle. PHEVs offer owners an electric vehicle with no local emissions in their daily usage. Then, when you need convenience and long distance without any worry about charging, they are hybrid-electric vehicles. Here in Metro Boston, my electricity rate is $0.34/kWh, and local chargers are usually $2 per hour. That means that in many cases, using electricity is not a cost advantage. Rather, it is something I do for driving satisfaction and to lower emissions.

I have a cabin in a remote part of New Hampshire. Using a battery-electric vehicle to access that cabin in winter is really not practical. Sure, I could add a charger there, and I may. But a PHEV solves any issues with winter highway travel and a lack of public charging convenience.

Next question! What do each of you think the Kia Sorento PHEV’s best attributes are?

Justin: I think the Kia Sorento PHEV’s best attributes are its size (passenger and cargo capacity), versatility (flat cargo area and seating arrangement), and efficiency (the most fuel efficient 3 row PHEV on the market). I think the Kia can more comfortably accommodate 5 - 6 passengers and or a larger volume of cargo than the Mitsubishi. I also think, on very long road trips, the Sorento would be more efficient/use less fuel. This is especially true if one is unable to recharge the battery to full more than once per tank of gas, or if unable to charge from the grid at all, since the Outlander’s EV range advantage would not overcome the Sorento’s superior gas engine efficiency.

John: Kia is a brand I am very fond of. Each Kia I test offers a near-premium feel and styling I find to be attractive. I also have found Kia's infotainment systems to be easy to use and practical.

The Sorento seems to be a bit larger than the new Outlander PHEV, though I have not seen them side by side. I suspect the third row room may be more practical in the Kia. One thing that would make me shop the Kia is the spare tire. I won't buy or recommend an SUV without a spare tire.

What do each of you think the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s best attributes are?

John: Being able to DC fast charge is a neat party trick the Outlander PHEV offers. I'd do it just to see how the BEV owners react at the public chargers :) Kidding aside, I'll take any input available to add electricity. Going forward, most new charger installations on the highway will all be DCFC.

Justin: I think the Outlander PHEV is a more efficient local commuter, has more versatility for activities like camping, tailgating and picnicking, and may also be a little more capable off-road. I think those things are high on the list of many SUV shoppers.

Final question for both of you: Which shoppers would you recommend the Outlander and Sorento PHEVs to, and why?

John: I think any shopper who wants a three-row green SUV should consider the Sorento PHEV. It offers zero sacrifices and would serve many families' needs quite well. The Outlander PHEV may be better suited to those who will use it primarily in the urban and suburban areas where help is always nearby, given its lack of a spare tire. Also, the Outlander's third-row seat is not for daily use but rather for occasional use for children. So families with four or more children may want to look for a larger vehicle. Drivers who appreciate the Outlander's styling, refinement, and uniqueness may be happiest with the Outlander PHEV. Last, I always offer any shopper the same advice; Buy a brand supported by a nearby dealership, and ask that local dealer if they offer service day loaner vehicles.

Justin: I think the Outlander is a better choice for drivers who do 70% or more of their annual miles on trips that are within the maximum EV range of the Outlander (perhaps including more than one charge per day) as well as for drivers who don’t really need 3 rows but want an option for very occasional seating of a small child or two in the 3rd row. I think it makes sense for people that want a lower priced alternative to the Sorento PHEV too. I think people who do a 30-40% or more of their annual miles on road trips beyond the range of the full charge, people who want 3 rows of seating for more frequent use (including for adults of average size), and those who just need more spacious interior (for people or cargo) might prefer the Sorento PHEV.

There you have it! Would you like to ask us questions about our reviews of each PHEV? Would you like to see us compare other PHEVs “side by side”? Please leave any questions or comments for either writer, or both, below.

Images courtesy of John Goreham and Justin Hart.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 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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