The 2023 Kia Sportage sets itself apart from the compact crossover crowd with its extroverted styling. Kia’s unconventional face features an alien-looking set of headlights and a different grille design. The bolder bodywork is also dimensionally larger than before, meaning more cargo space and a more spacious interior. Inside, the new Sportage is attractive and packed with technology which includes a large dashboard-mounted display. Motivation comes from a 187-hp four-cylinder, 226-hp hybrid powertrain, or a more powerful plug-in-hybrid model with an estimated 34-mile electric range. Competition is tough from segment stalwarts like the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V, but the 2023 Sportage proves it has much more to offer than just a wild-looking exterior.
What’s New for 2023?
The Sportage enters a new generation for the 2023 model year and offers newly available hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains. The latter addition gives Kia a contender for plug-in alternatives such as the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrids.
Price and Which One to Buy
We recommend the optional hybrid powertrain, as it feels more responsive on the road and offers increased fuel economy as a bonus. The mid-range EX hybrid seems to offer the most value here, adding desirable features like a larger 12.3-inch infotainment screen, wireless smartphone charging and heated front seats. The Premium package may also appeal to some buyers, as it features a panoramic sunroof, LED interior lighting and a power liftgate.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
The Sportage’s powertrain is a 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid variant combines a turbocharged 1.6-liter four with a single electric motor that produces a combined 226 horsepower. Either powertrain can be paired with front- or all-wheel drive. There’s also an all-wheel-drive-only plug-in hybrid that shares its petrol engine with the regular hybrid but adds a more powerful electric motor and a larger battery pack. We sampled both the base four-cylinder and hybrid powertrains during our initial test drives and were more satisfied with the latter than the former. The extra hybrid power and low-end boost from the electric motor make it feel much more responsive. When we tested the plug-in hybrid model, it hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds on our test track. The Sportage uses a new platform with a longer wheelbase and as a result, ride comfort is improved. The introduction of rugged-looking trims like the X-Line gives it a compact off-road vibe, but the X-Pro actually has a few tools to help get through the rough stuff. It rides on black 17-inch rims and all-terrain tires, and features a choice of ride modes.
Range, Charging and Battery Life
According to the EPA, PHEV models can travel 34 miles on electric power alone before the petrol engine needs to start to keep the Sportage moving. It uses the same setup as the plug-in hybrid variant of the Hyundai Tucson and comes with a 13.8 kWh battery pack and 261 horsepower combined.
Real World Fuel and MPG Savings
The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder Sportage is rated for 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway when equipped with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive models are rated for 23 mpg city and 28 mpg highway by the EPA. The front-drive hybrid is rated for up to 42 mpg city and 44 mpg highway. The EPA has rated the plug-in-hybrid model for 36 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. The all-wheel-drive Sportage Hybrid achieved 31 mpg, on our 75 mph fuel-efficient route, which is 7 mpg less than its EPA rating. For more information on the Sportage’s fuel economy, visit EPA website.
Interior, Comfort and Cargo
Inside, the Sportage impresses with a cool design accentuated by a large digital display on the dashboard and various other interesting details. The interior is available in an attractive two-tone color scheme as an option, but if you prefer an all-black cabin, that’s available as well. The center console offers a rotary knob, push-to-start button and a myriad of other controls embedded in a piano black bezel. Thanks to the larger overall dimensions as well as the longer wheelbase, the Sportage has more legroom in the rear seats and 40 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. There’s also a two-level cargo floor for even more versatility.
Infotainment and Connectivity
On the infotainment front, the Sportage comes standard with the desired features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An 8.0-inch infotainment screen is standard and all models are equipped with a digital gauge display as well. We recommend upgrading to the larger infotainment display, which is 12.3 inches in diameter and provides more connectivity and sharper graphics. There are also neat touch-sensitive controls below the infotainment interface that toggle between climate and stereo systems. Upgraded Harman/Kardon units are available as well as subscription-based wireless phone chargers and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Safety and Driver Assistance Features
The new Sportage features a range of standard and optional driver assistance technologies. The list includes everything from navigation-based adaptive cruise control and remote parking features that are basically the same as Hyundai’s Smart Park system. For more information on Sportage crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking
- Standard lane departure warning and lane maintenance assistance
- Blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alerts are available
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia boasts one of the best warranty plans out there, with the longest powertrain warranty in the industry. However, it lacks the maintenance free of competitors like Toyota and even its sister company, Hyundai.
- The limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- The powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No free scheduled maintenance
2023 Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige AWD
Vehicle Type: front engine, front motorized, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door carriage
Basic/As Tested: $44,285/$44,680
Options: Dawning Red premium paint, $395
Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 1.6-liter inline-4, 177 hp, 195 lb-ft + 1 AC motor, 90 hp, 224 lb-ft (combined output: 261 hp, 258 lb-ft; 13.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack; 7.2 kW built-in charger)
Transmission: 6 speed automatic
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.6-inch ventilated disc/11.9-inch disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy A/S
235/55R-19 101V M+S
Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Length: 183.5 inches
Width: 73.4 inches
Height: 66.9 inches
Passenger Volume: 100 ft3
Cargo Volume: 35 ft3
Restraint Weight: 4250 lbs
CD TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.9 seconds
1/4-Mile: 15.2 seconds @ 93 mph
100 mph: 17.5 seconds
130 mph: 38.3 sec
The above result removes 1 foot launch from 0.4 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.1 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.3 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.6 sec
Braking, 70–0 mph: 167 ft
Road hold, 300 ft Skidpad: 0.84 g
CD FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 31 MPGe
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined Gasoline + Electric: 84 MPGe
EV range: 34 miles
CD TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specifications