Is the Kia Telluride Plug-in Hybrid a Good Car?

Just because the Kia Telluride isn’t a PHEV doesn’t mean you have to give up on your third-row hybrid SUV dreams. Click here for more!
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
While demand remains high for a hybrid version of the
Kia Telluride
, it doesn’t seem likely to happen within the next couple of years. If you’re looking for a hybrid SUV with three rows, there are other models to consider if you don’t want to wait for Kia’s fully electric three-row SUV.
With seating for seven or eight, great fuel economy, and a lush interior, it’s no wonder that the full-size hybrid SUVs are in demand. While the Kia Telluride doesn’t offer a hybrid powertrain, Kia has been teasing a fully-electric full-size SUV for 2023. Until then, you’ll have to satisfy your PHEV SUV itch with other models. 
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Kia Telluride plug-in hybrid

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “PHEV,” it’s short for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. A PHEV is different from the standard hybrid vehicle because it has a more powerful battery that can power the car without assistance from the gasoline engine. While the electric-only range is limited, you can often travel for more than 30 miles on battery charge alone.
As you can imagine, PHEV vehicles get even better gas mileage than a regular old hybrid, making them popular choices for consumers who are both wallet and environmentally conscious. There are plenty of PHEV sedans available, but thanks to the popularity of super-sized SUVs, there is a growing demand for PHEV SUVs as well.
Kia’s popular full-size SUV, the Telluride, is a great choice for active families on the go. It can seat seven or eight depending on the configuration, and with all-wheel drive and a 5,000-pound towing capacity, it’s perfect for family adventures and camping trips. The one drawback for the environmentally-conscious families out there is that there isn’t a PHEV option
When you purchase a Kia Telluride, your only powertrain option is a 3.8 L V6 engine. While this is a powerful engine, it’s definitely a gas-guzzler, with a fuel efficiency rating of 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. If a PHEV powertrain is especially important to you, you should be considering other three-row SUVs that have one available.

Kia Sorento PHEV

If you’d prefer to stay in the Kia family, you’re in luck. Despite not offering a PHEV for the Telluride, Kia does have a PHEV available in the
model. This is great news for all the earth-lovers out there looking to reconcile their environmental commitment with their desire to drive an SUV. 
The Kia Sorento PHEV has a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a single electric motor that produces 261 horsepower. Its battery is more powerful and larger than what is offered in the standard hybrid, producing 13.8 kWh versus 1.5 kWh on the standard. If you’re concerned about cargo and passenger space thanks to a larger battery pack, note the Sorento PHEV still offers three rows of seating, so you won’t be sacrificing much space for the power provided.   
While the fuel economy of the Kia Sorento PHEV is better than that of a standard gasoline engine, it’s not as high as it could be if it were a sedan—but this is to be expected since it's an SUV. The Kia Sorento PHEV gets 34 mpg in hybrid mode without using charge from the battery. If you decide to use the battery charge, that mileage bumps up to 76 MPGe, and going fully electric will give you 32 miles of range. 
An important factor to consider when purchasing a PHEV is the battery charge time. The Kia Sorento PHEV comes in a little under average in this arena with a general charge time of three hours and 25 minutes. There are often public charging stations available, or you can hook up to your home’s power supply to charge the battery.
The last thing to keep in mind when shopping for any vehicle is the driving experience. You’re probably buying a PHEV for performance and gas mileage, not drag racing, and that’s a good thing—acceleration is sluggish, with the Kia Sorento PHEV going from 0 to 60 in 7.6 seconds. 
You’ll also have to engage the gasoline engine more than you would think, with the electric engine best left for long-range highway driving of four to five hours charging the battery. This is slightly lower than the industry standard of five to six hours. 

Volvo XC90 PHEV

Another three-row PHEV SUV option is the
Volvo XC90
. This is a great choice for a high-performance PHEV SUV—perhaps the best choice in the three-row market. 
The XC90 has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a single electric motor. Together they produce 455 horsepower thanks to the 14.9 kWh battery pack. While some might worry about limited cargo and passenger space, the XC90 offers a full three rows of seating, though the third row might be a little tight for adults.
When it comes to gas mileage, the gasoline engine alone leaves a lot to be desired at 26 mpg combined. When you combine that with the electric motor, though, you get 66 MPGe—this is lower than some of its direct competitors, and lower overall than a smaller PHEV, but that’s to be expected with a vehicle of this size. The electric-only driving range is an average of 36 miles.
You should also take the battery charge time into account. The XC90 has a sluggish charge time of approximately five hours. This might not be a big deal if you plan to primarily charge at home, but it can make charging the battery in public more time-consuming and challenging. 
Most importantly, what’s it like to drive a Volvo XC90? Thanks to the power from the combined engines, a plush interior, and superior handling, driving the XC90 is a sincere pleasure. While fully-electric SUVs may be becoming more popular than their PHEV counterparts, the XC90 is a great choice for anyone unwilling to give up a gasoline engine just yet.

Kia EV9

If you’ve got your heart set on a three-row Kia and are excited to make the jump from gasoline engines to fully-electric vehicles, you’ll be excited to learn the EV9 is on the way. It’s like a fully-electric Telluride and is slated for release in 2024
While Kia has yet to release any concrete details about the EV9, what we do know is that it will feature three rows of seating. The driving range is estimated at 300 miles on a single charge. The base model will likely start at around $50,000 with upgraded trims and driving ranges available at an additional cost. 

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