The Kia Sportage is one of the oldest model’s in Kia’s lineup and over the years, Kia has continued to mold it into the perfect rival to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. This latest version is so good, that you would be amiss to not check it out, especially the Sportage hybrid that we spent a week with.
For its latest generation, the 2023 Kia Sportage has grown in size, since Kia now offers the smaller Seltos. It’s a whopping 7.1-inches longer than its predecessor with a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase. It’s also slightly wider with 0.4-inches of additional width.
In addition to the much bigger footprint, the 2023 Sportage stands out with its aggressive styling that makes it look more upscale and bolder than the last one. The newly sculpted body gives the Sportage a more premium look.
Thanks to that larger length, interior space is aplenty. The second row now has more legroom than the Toyota RAV4 hybrid at 41.3-inches vs the RAV4’s 37.8-inches. There’s also a bit more cargo space in the Sportage Hybrid compared to the RAV4 at 39.5 cubic feet vs 37.5 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded, there’s a nice 73.3 cubic feet of space for all your gear.
Now for what powers the Sportage hybrid. Under the hood there’s a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a 44-kilowatt electric motor, a 1.5-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery and a six-speed automatic. The powertrain generates a combined 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. You can choose either front- or all-wheel drive.
If the powertrain sounds familiar, it’s because it should, since the Sportage hybrid has the same excellent powertrain as the Hyundai Tucson hybrid. There different drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Smart) for you to choose from, although we mostly kept it in Eco mode to squeeze out as many mpgs as possible.
With 227 horsepower on tap, the Sportage hybrid is the most powerful Sportage that you can currently get. It packs a nice improvement over the standard 2.5-liter engine with 187 horsepower. With its instantaneous torque from the electric motor and the extra oomph from the turbocharged engine, the Sportage hybrid feels sportier than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 hybrids. The powertrain also sounds more refined than its Japanese rivals. At wide open throttle, the powertrain doesn’t have the same unpleasing sound as the Sportage hybrid’s rivals.
The Sportage hybrid will also keep you from having to stop at the pump too often with its 42 mpg city, 48 mpg highway and 43 mpg combined rating with front-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive version is rated at 38 mpg across the board.
If you want an even more efficient powertrain, you’ll want to wait for the upcoming Sportage plug-in hybrid. The PHEV gets a larger 7.2-kWh battery pack that provides up to 32 miles of electric-only driving range. The Sportage PHEV also gets a more powerful 67-Kw electric motor.
Inside the Sportage’s interior looks more modern than most of its rivals. At the front there are two screens that are connected and spread halfway across the dashboard. In front of the driver there’s a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and in the center you can either get an 8-inch touchscreen or a better 12.3-inch display with navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be connected wirelessly with the smaller screen, but you still have to use a wire with the larger system.
On the safety front, the 2023 Sportage comes standard with automatic emergency braking, a lane keeping assist system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors. It’s interesting that you have to step up to the SX Prestige trim to get adaptive cruise control, but that trim also adds additional cameras and sensors to help you avoid any objects when you’re parking the Sportage. The SX Prestige also comes with the Remote Start Parking system that lets the drive move the Sportage forward or back in a straight line from outside the vehicle. This is perfect for tight parking spaces.
The pricing for the 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid starts at $28,585 for the base LX trim level. The EX starts at $32,285, while the SX Prestige starts at $37,485. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option. The good news is that the Sportage hybrid doesn’t command a big premium over the standard version with the SX Prestige hybrid only costing $900 more than the non-hybrid.
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