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Review of the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid: A Worthy Competitor To the Honda CR-V

Image Source: Pit Stock / Shutterstock

The Kia Sportage stands as one of the veteran models in Kia’s vehicle lineup and through continuous efforts, Kia has successfully transformed it into a strong contender against the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The latest iteration of this model is truly impressive, warranting a close inspection, particularly the Sportage hybrid variant which we had the pleasure of testing for a week.

In its 2023 incarnation, the Kia Sportage has witnessed an increase in size to make way for Kia’s smaller Seltos. As a result, it now boasts a significant 7.1-inch longer body than its predecessor along with a 3.4-inch extended wheelbase. The vehicle has also become slightly wider, adding 0.4 inches to its overall width.

Beyond its expanded dimensions, the 2023 Sportage stands out with its bold exterior design, giving it a more premium and upscale appearance compared to its previous version. The redefined bodywork lends the Sportage a more sophisticated aesthetic.

The larger size translates to abundant interior space. The second row offers more legroom compared to the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, measuring at 41.3 inches versus the RAV4’s 37.8 inches. Additionally, the Sportage Hybrid boasts slightly more cargo space than the RAV4, at 39.5 cubic feet versus 37.5 cubic feet. When the rear seats are folded down, a generous 73.3 cubic feet of space is available for all your belongings.

Moving on to the powertrain of the Sportage hybrid, beneath the hood is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a 44-kilowatt electric motor, a 1.5-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery, and a six-speed automatic transmission. This combination results in a total output of 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The driver has the option to select between front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations.

The powertrain may seem familiar, as it is shared with the Hyundai Tucson hybrid. The Sportage hybrid offers different drive modes – Eco, Normal, Sport, and Smart. During our testing, we primarily utilized the Eco mode to maximize fuel efficiency.

With 227 horsepower at your disposal, the Sportage hybrid currently stands as the most potent variant of the Sportage lineup. It represents a significant upgrade over the base 2.5-liter engine offering 187 horsepower. Thanks to the instantaneous torque from the electric motor and the added power from the turbocharged engine, the Sportage hybrid provides a sportier driving experience compared to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 hybrids. Additionally, the powertrain emits a more refined sound in comparison to its Japanese counterparts, without any unpleasant noises at full throttle.

The Sportage hybrid boasts impressive fuel efficiency ratings of 42 mpg city, 48 mpg highway, and 43 mpg combined for the front-wheel drive version. The all-wheel drive variant achieves 38 mpg across all metrics.

For those prioritizing even greater efficiency, the upcoming Sportage plug-in hybrid is worth considering. Equipped with a larger 7.2-kWh battery pack, it offers up to 32 miles of electric-only driving range and is powered by a more potent 67-Kw electric motor.

Inside the Sportage, the interior design appears more contemporary than its rivals. Up front, there are two interconnected screens that span halfway across the dashboard. The driver benefits from a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, while the center console offers a choice between an 8-inch touchscreen or a superior 12.3-inch display with built-in navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be wirelessly integrated with the smaller screen, whereas a physical connection is required for the larger system.

In terms of safety features, the 2023 Sportage comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. It’s worth noting that adaptive cruise control is included with the SX Prestige trim level, which also incorporates additional cameras and sensors to assist with parking maneuvers. The SX Prestige also offers the Remote Start Parking system, allowing the driver to move the Sportage forward or backward in a straight line from outside the vehicle – ideal for tight parking spaces.

Pricing for the 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid commences at $28,585 for the base LX trim. The EX trim starts at $32,285, while the top-tier SX Prestige begins at $37,485. Opting for all-wheel drive incurs an additional $1,800 charge. The positive news is that the Sportage hybrid comes at a reasonable premium over the non-hybrid version, with the SX Prestige hybrid costing only $900 more than its non-hybrid counterpart.

Image Source: Pit Stock / Shutterstock

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