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I recently wrote about how much my partner and I are enjoying our Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid, despite its handful of nitpicky complaints. The car has proven to be quite efficient for how we use it, especially once we got the level 2 charger installed in our garage, and can get a useable re-charge in between trips during the day. We even managed to drive over a thousand miles on a single tank of gas!

Unfortunately, that thousand mile tank of gas has not been able to repeat itself quite yet because it turns out that the Sorento might not be the most efficient cold-weather PHEV on the market. The reason for this is that all the heating for the cabin of the car is reliant on the gas engine. The car is not equipped with a heat pump (which is usually standard on EVs) and has no electric heating at all. If you are running the cabin heater, or the heated seats, the gasoline engine will engage, regardless of how much battery range is remaining, or what your selected drive mode is.

Kia Sorento heater runs exclusively off the gas engine.

This was not something that my partner and I had even bothered to research or consider when deciding which car to purchase. However, it's unlikely to have been a deal-breaker for us, personally. The reason for this is that we live in Las Vegas, Nevada. We only get a few months of "winter" weather, and even those months are still [usually] not terribly cold. Daytime highs usually hover between the low 60's and mid 50's (Fahrenheit), and we go years without seeing any snow in the city.

As such, the Sorento's lack of a heat pump, and its reliance on the gas engine for heating isn't quite as problematic as it might be in Northern Nevada, or in a state like Wisconsin or Maine. If you're in the market for an EV or PHEV, and you live in a cold-weather region, you might want to consider a vehicle other than the Sorento, as you'll be losing a lot of the advantages of the electric motor and battery if you're driving in freezing weather.

We park our car in our garage, so it rarely gets so cold that we need to run the heat while driving it. It's usually comfortable enough in the cabin without running the heat. Usually, when I drive it, I'll run the heated seats for a few minutes just to warm myself up, then turn the heated seats off and let the gasoline engine dis-engage next time I'm idling at a stop light.

Nevertheless, since hitting that high mark of 1000 miles on a single tank of gas, we've been consistently only getting between 600 and 700 miles per tank after the weather has cooled. I'm optimistic that when March and April hit, that 1000 mile mark might become achievable again. We'll see.

We haven't been able to take the Sorento up to our local ski resort yet.

I also want to note that we haven't driven the car in snowy or icy conditions yet, so we've yet to use the 4-wheel-drive or "Sport Mode", and I can't give any impressions on how well it performs in those conditions. There's been snow up at Lee Canyon, but we haven't been able to make any trips up there yet for snowboarding because of work, the baby, and other commitments. Also, we've both gained quite a bit of weight due to COVID and the baby, and neither of us fits comfortably into any of our snowboarding clothes. But that's why we both have gym memberships. I'm personally hoping to lose about 40 pounds. Maybe we'll fit into our gear and hit the slopes at some point by the end of February. If not, hopefully Lee Canyon will get more snow next winter.

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