The Sorento PHEV, depending on how you drive it, needs at least the following to come close to this range: start with a full tank of gas (meaning you may need to continue to fill it ¼ - ½ a gallon or so after the auto shut off at the pump) and a full charge of the battery from an electrical outlet. This might be a scenario one finds themselves in on a long road trip for example, where you gas up and charge up before hitting the road for a drive to another state or to the other side of the state. But if that road trip of 400+ miles is mostly on the freeway, you will be hard pressed to actually achieve the EPA range unless you either average a speed of about 50-55 miles per hour, or stop to charge up your battery a few times.
Are you frustrated yet? Have hope! If you want to get 460 miles (or better) out of a full tank of gas, there is more than one way to do it. How you might ask? I’m going to answer that with some real world experience. Between June 1st and July 31st this year, I drove roughly 1,000 miles in my Kia Sorento PHEV (960 miles, specifically). I only used about 3 gallons of gas in those two months to cover that distance. When I topped off the tank on August 3rd, my onboard range remaining display showed a range of 487 miles, handily beating the EPA range.
Here’s how I did that: I used several full charges of the battery over those two months, and only drove about 117 miles on gas (my average miles per gallon was about 41). Specifically, I drove on the battery more than 87% of the time during those two months. Doing that gradually “resets” the estimated range on a full tank, over time, or so I gather since in April and May I was doing a lot of long distance driving and didn’t manage to do more than 45% of my miles in EV mode and my estimated range on a full tank was more like 375 miles.
All that EV mode driving works out to around 248 kWh of electricity for my PHEV for June and July, and an average of 3.4 miles per kWh, which is quite respectable considering the size, weight and shape of the Sorento PHEV. My Tesla Model 3 by comparison has a lifetime average of 4.15 miles per kWh, so far, and that vehicle is much more aerodynamic and weighs around 700 pounds less. But this is a scenario that exceeds the EPA range, and I want to describe how one might more precisely hit that EPA estimated range, so how do we get closer to that estimate?
To simplify the calculus, let’s find the difference between 487 and 460: that’s about 5.5% greater range. So, to reduce my percent of miles in EV mode by 5.5% means that I would be looking at somewhere around 82% of miles being on electricity. But that just isn’t right, because if I wanted to get exactly 460 miles of range from a full tank of gas plus full use of the battery, driving on battery only more than 80% of the time just wouldn’t pencil out. What this really means is that the total gas miles, and mileage, must be at the upper end of ideal. So either one must drive at an average speed of somewhere around 45 miles per hour (to maximize fuel efficiency), or one must use multiple full charges of the hybrid battery to achieve this figure on a full tank of gas. I estimate that a minimum of 3 full charges of the battery must be used during the use of a full tank of gas to achieve the EPA estimate (but it may be safer to say 4+ if you do a lot of higher speed jaunts on the freeway, of short to medium distance). If you are driving on mostly shorter trips around town though, you’ll be more likely to meet or exceed the EPA range as long as you charge up your battery regularly. That is exactly what I did to beat the EPA range on the display. There are other scenarios that could meet or beat that range but all of them likely require either a predominance of slower speed driving, and or the use of multiple full charges of the battery.
What do you think? Would you be able to get the EPA range on a regular basis, or are your driving habits such that it would often be difficult to do so? Leave your questions and comments below.
Image by 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.