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2,500 Mile Odyssey In A Kia Sorento PHEV: Day 1, New Record For EV Range

I have just set out on a 2,500 mile long road trip with my family. We are driving from the Seattle, WA suburbs to Anaheim, CA over the next several days. One day into our trip and we have already set a new personal record!


Our drive started in the evening, after work, with my wife and daughter and all our stuff for a 10 day road trip packed in back. I removed our roof racks (since we won’t be using them for anything on this trip), and estimate that we have approximately 600 pounds of people and stuff onboard. We left home with a full tank of gas and a full charge on the battery with the total estimated range showing as 455 miles (a few ounces of gas away from the EPA rated combined range of 460 miles) on a hot Pacific Northwest summer evening (it was 91 degrees Farenheight today, according to my watch, and about 88 when we hit the road). As per usual, I drove 6 miles from my house in Eco + EV mode to use up some of the battery capacity, (10% to be precise, which leaves plenty of “space” to capture additional charge from braking or coasting). Note that this is the default mode the Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid (PHEV) starts in every time. I then pressed the EV/HEV mode button between the front seats to switch the vehicle into standard Hybrid mode (which runs the gas engine to maintain the state of charge the hybrid battery is at at the time the mode is selected) as I accelerate up a long hill on Interstate 5 heading south.

Over the next 93 miles, I switched back and forth between HEV and EV settings (while never leaving the default Eco mode), driving on battery only for 6 - 21 miles at a time when traffic conditions were slower on the freeway (20-60 MPH) or generally downhill/flat. We had the windows up the entire time with the AC running and rarely used cruise control (since traffic kept speeding up and slowing down). Our average speed was just about 50 MPH. By doing this, when we pulled into our first stop for the night (at my brother’s house) we had achieved 45.2 miles of our 99 mile total drive on battery power! This is the farthest I have ever gone on a single charge and what impresses me is that most of that distance was driven on the freeway (though as I mentioned, our average speed was only about 50 MPH and I very selectively used the battery when I was going slower, coasting, or otherwise able to maintain speed with minimal pressure on the accelerator). Note that this is 13.2 miles further than the EPA estimated range on a full charge (or over 42% better than the EPA estimate). My combined fuel economy (battery and gas) for the 99 mile drive was 60.8 MPG. Again, quite impressive considering the size and approximately 5,100 pound weight (including all the cargo in that figure). Note that this drive was to the same destination from a previous drive I have written about when I tested the use of Sport mode for part of the way, but today I drove an additional 39 miles due to a late breaking COVID case that forced us to alter plans (we were going to stay with my wife’s parents). On that drive in October last year, I got a worse MPG figure (56.1) and happened to use Sport mode for part of the drive. Other details factored in to influence that figure though (temperature, rain, studless snow tires, etc.), but for comparison tomorrow I plan to drive the first 99 miles of the next leg of our trip toggling between Sport mode and the Eco + EV mode. Those 99 miles will be slightly less hilly than the first 99 miles we covered today, though with a higher speed limit (70 MPH) most of that distance. I will be heading out on day 2 with a fully charged battery thanks to my brother’s willingness to let me use his 12 amp, 110V garage outlet overnight. I anticipate that after 99 miles of Sport mode toggling I will see a MPG figure of somewhere between 58 and 63, based on my recent testing.

What do you think of this new record? Is it more of a fluke than anything? Will I do better, or worse than I estimate on the first 99 miles of my drive tomorrow? Please leave your questions, guesses and comments below. 

Images courtesy of 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 for regular electric and hybrid news coverage.


Fred Griffin (not verified)    August 18, 2023 - 1:51PM

Are you interpreting the electric miles reported by your trip computer correctly? In my Ford Escape PHEV, the electric miles reported by the trip computer include the sum of those from plug-in electricity plus those associated with gas/hybrid operation (such as from regenerative braking). For example, if I start driving in gas/hybrid mode with 0% on my high-voltage battery (HVB), my Escape PHEV will still accumulate electric miles. When shifting back and forth between draining the HVB and gas/hybrid operation, it is very difficult to segregate these two types of electric miles. Of the total 45.2 electric miles that you report, how many miles are associated with plug-in electricity and how many are associated with gas/hybrid operation?

JustinHart (not verified)    October 21, 2023 - 1:39PM

In reply to by Fred Griffin (not verified)

Great question Fred! 100% of those 45.2 miles were covered electricity only. When the Sorento PHEV is operating in hybrid mode (i.e. the gas engine is running), not only can you feel a slight vibration (nothing unpleasant or distracting) and hear the engine (faintly), but there is a graphical display in the dash that shows the gas engine running. So, I simply added up all the sections of the 99 miles drive in which I had the Sorento running in full electric mode. Could I be off by a fraction of a mile? Potentially, but now more than a tenth or two because I only switched it in/out of EV mode 3 times and it didn't take more than a few seconds in total for those switchovers to occur. Otherwise, yes, when the Sorento runs in hybrid mode, and is set to "auto" it will decide as per its algorithm when to use electric and gas, until the battery has been depleted at which point it only uses battery for very brief periods or while coasting. This is why I manually switch modes most of the time. I get better fuel efficiency results generally speaking than leaving it to the algorithm. Thanks for reading my stories, and apologies for slow replies! I don't seem to get notifications anymore when people comment on my stories.