The Kia Sportage has always been one of the smallest compact SUVs, and for the past two generations, a value-rich, style-conscious alternative to the world’s largest, more family-friendly CR-Vs. The problem is, there is now a bootload of similar small options that we call midcompact. Kia even makes a cellus in them. This frees up the 2023 Kia Sportage to move forward in the world.
Literally. Sportage is now the largest in the compact segment. It is 7.1 inches long overall with an extra 3.4 inch wheelbase. The cargo capacity, previously devoted to providing a surprisingly generous rear legroom, is now a segment-best 39.6 cubic feet. The backseat legroom expands further to be a class leader with 41.3 inches. These are not just differences from generation to generation, they are complete game-changers. Sportage starts with a choice that is best suited for single people, DINK or empty nesters that are family-friendly.
This is a difference that you can tell by looking at the thing. The added length of the new Sportage makes it reminiscent of a larger Sorrento, compared to its two immediate predecessor athletic, wheel-to-corner profiles. This is prevented by much more expressive styling. The wide grille bordered by the huge boomerang LED headlights is attractive, and probably off-putting, as it prevents the 2023 Sportage from having the “face” that we hope cars will have. The rear is similarly bolder than the Sorrento, a concave liftgate and full-width taillights that excite the EV6.
Although there is only a new look. Like Kia’s other SUVs, the Sportage has achieved a new X-line trim layer with a trade-like stitching pattern on various bumpers, gloss black trim, exclusive wheels, high roof rails and SynTex upholstery. Unlike the Sorrento X-Line, however, the ground clearance is reasonably high at 8.3 inches like other all-wheel-drive Sportes (which is 1.5 inches higher than the last Sportage and 0.1 better than the Sorrento X-Line). While this sounds like too much of an appearance package to you, the new X-Pro (pictured above right) goes a little further by adding BF Goodrich all-terrain tires, 17-inch matte black wheels, and recalibrated drive mode settings. For reduced traction conditions. Oh, and a black roof.
Although the tires undoubtedly improve Sportage’s off-road capabilities, and a ready-off off-road course features a fast-tracking locked all-wheel-drive system capable of coping with a variety of wheel-of-the-ground situations. For a Subaru Forrester Wilderness or Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, a Mazda CX-50 is the smallest step beyond a match. You will also need to deal with road degradation due to stronger and crunchy rides, more road noise and cold tires. The steering wheel remains at least admirably precise, which is good, as it is a powerful suite of new Sportage with generally admirable body controls.
Perhaps the biggest stupidity is that you’re stuck with the base engine, which is fairly the same as the Forrester Wilderness and the Toyota RAV4 TRD off-road. The Sportage comes standard with a new 2.5-liter inline-four that produces 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque – quite average for the segment. It combines an eight-speed automatic, which is a good thing considering many competitors have a CVT. Together, they provide adequate acceleration and response (especially in well-tuned sport mode), and a slightly pebble soundtrack. Basically, if you tell us it’s a RAV4 engine, we wouldn’t be surprised.
But there is an exceptional option. Other compact SUVs offer you the option of a hybrid or performance upgrade, while the Sportage offers a two-for-one deal. The new Sportage Hybrid, much like the mechanically related Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, has a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four, electric motor, six-speed automatic and front-or-wheel drive. The latter is the same mechanical system found in the Gas-Only Sport, as opposed to the RAV4 Hybrid, which achieves all-wheel drive by powering the rear wheels with an integrated electric motor. The total output is 227 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which falls far short of the turbo-only engine upgrades of the Mazda CX-5 and CX-50, but still presents a solid jolt of thrust.
The result is a win-win. The Turbo Hybrid is more enjoyable to drive than both base engines and other hybrids, thanks to its conventional automatic (vs. some variants of CVT) and turbochargers that smooth the transition between both electric and gas power sources in terms of noise. And energy distribution. The Turbo-Plus-Electric-Motor Combo makes it feel remarkably daring when passing around and on the side of the city, and, despite having a small-position engine, it gets even quieter when you punch a throttle. Finally, as expected, it is much more effective for the combined 43 or 38 mpg, versus 28 mpg combined (FWD) and 25 mpg (AWD) gas versions, depending on the drivetrain and trim level.
Even better, the hybrid costs only about $ 1,000 more than the comparable engine-only model (separated by a few hundred based on price cuts). You will have to pay that premium in no time for saving gas, then continue to enjoy performance benefits with home money.
Although it is not the only hybrid. The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV, which arrives later this year, has the same powertrain powered by a large enough, plug-in-capable battery. Full specs and price are coming, but Tucson PHEV should be a good indicator of what to expect. We know it will offer an approximately 32 miles of electric range, which is less than the Toyota RAV4 Prime, but it should still be a fully functional range capable of covering most round-trip rides.
I say here, though. American consumers are digging into the exterior look and extra power of models like the X-Line. Sorrento, for example, has got more X-line trim level pairing for 2022. And while the Sportage PHEV will be available as an X-line, it will not be a hybrid and will not be available as an X-Pro. It may be compatible with the Toyota RAV4, which as a hybrid does not offer much more rugged adventure and TRD off-road trim (absolutely subaru or jeeps that do not offer hybrids at all), but unlike the Toyota, Kia To be able to In fact, its mechanical all-wheel-drive system combines with its hybrid powertrain. According to Sportage product planner Derrick Tie, the lack of a hybrid / X-line combo is about the current supply constraints as much as the expected demand. Basically, Kia can’t create enough hybrids at this point. For the same reason Kia expects only 20% of the 2023 Sportage to be hybrid. Over time and with the understanding of easier delivery, this percentage could go up (as it does for the RAV4 hybrid), and Ty says his team will monitor whether customers actually want the hybrid / X-line combo.
The interior of the new Sportage offers another advantage compared to the best sellers. In short, it’s cool. Here’s an idea of the style you can’t get with CR-V or Forrester. Outside of the design, red, navy and sage green interiors are available depending on the trim level and drivetrain, even the EX Hybrid is especially suitable for the great Misty Gray and Triton navy combo. Ty says he has confirmed the inclusion of such aesthetic options with the usual generous features of Kier at the lower trim level because he hates the idea of short-changing people who can’t afford the top dollar for the top trim level. While working for Disney for several years, this is a principle he laid down – basically, every guest deserves a magic experience regardless of their budget.
Another example of this is the main attraction of the cabin: the huge curved panel housing is shared with the twin 12.3-inch display EV6. Available in every trim but LX, it is not only eye-catching for its curved design and beautiful graphics, like other kiosks, the infotainment touchscreen is easy to use. Joining it from the EV6 is a unique array of touch-capacitive “buttons” that serve double duty as climate control and infotainment menu shortcuts. I can see how annoying it can be, but I was fine with them during my week with EV6.
There are plenty of well-executed driver assistance technologies including front-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance and driver carelessness warning. Blind-spot alerts are included in the EX and above, while Kia / Hyundai’s excellent adaptive cruise control system with lane-centering steering support appears on the SX trims. ACC comes standard in every CR-V, RAV4 and Forester, but Kia’s systems generally work better.
Add it all up and it looks like an absolute winner for the 2023 Kia Sportage segment. It now has the space needed for family responsibilities and the electrified versions are claimed today for multiple reasons, while maintaining a distinctive style and strong value combo that has been the sport’s mainstay for two generations. Prices start at বেস 27,245, including the base FWD LX’s destination. This is exactly between CR-V and RAV4, so don’t expect a basement bargain for a key in 2023. And considering how good and competitive this car is, you really shouldn’t. That said, the LX Hybrid price of $ 28,545 is a few grand lower than the CR-V and RAV4’s hybrid entry point. Even the EX Hybrid Base CR-V Hybrid EX with Snaggy Navy Blue interior is about $ 1,000 less. There’s only one reason to consider the Sportage Hybrid as a litter pick – you just have to live without the X-Line’s half-cut-cut development. At least for now.