Kia used the Los Angeles Auto Show last year to launch the 2023 Sportage Hybrid, which has already arrived in dealerships nationwide in the United States. The Kia Sportage gets a facelift this year for the 2023 model year.
The introduction of a Kia Sportage Hybrid comes as no surprise, as this vehicle shares most of its technical components with its cousin, the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. It is nevertheless good to see a fourth player appear in this category. Remember that the offer of hybrid SUVs in our market remains thin, with the Ford Escape hybrid, the Toyota RAV4 hybrid and the Tucson hybrid as serious players. It's a shame, because the compact SUV category deserves more electrified engines.
So, the Kia Sportage Hybrid 2023: it arrives with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder thermal engine, paired with a mini electric motor with a power of 44 kilowatts. It is powered by a battery with a capacity of 1.49 kilowatt hours. Total combined power is rated at 226 horsepower and torque at 258 lb-ft.
Surprisingly, the revised new 2023 Sportage is bigger than its predecessor. Considering the trend of recent years in the SUV segment (and cars, for that matter), it's not shocking at all, actually. It's just in tune with the times.
The 2023 model is Kia Sportage's 5th generation. The fourth having been launched in 2016, the first in 2000. And, as we mentioned, the new edition is more longer, taller and wider than the previous one, and rides on a longer wheelbase. The extra space makes a difference especially in terms of rear passenger space and available cargo space in this two-row compact SUV.
The Sportage is available now in three configurations: strictly gasoline, hybrid, and also a plug-in hybrid variant.
Besides the three powertrains, there are other ways to classify the new Sportage. For example, trims offered for the non-hybrid model include the base LX model, available in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations, the X-Line and the top-of-the-line EX model. The 2023 Sportage Hybrid is available in EX or SX trim.
The pure hybrid Sportage obviously outperforms the internal combustion engine versions in terms of fuel economy.
The equipment, of course, takes the lead by climbing in the range. Here is a small table that cites some elements specific to the versions. Note that each one speaks of additions to the previous trim level.
- LX : heated cloth seats, 4.2 and 8.0-inch screens, respectively, in the instrument cluster and for the multimedia system, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto applications.
- X-Line : leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, push-button start, wireless charging for cellular devices.
- EX : intelligent cruise control, fog lights, heated windshield, dual-zone climate control, 12.3-inch screen for the multimedia system.
- EX Premium : ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, electric tailgate.
- X-Line Limited : 12.3-inch screen in the instrument cluster, Harman Kardon audio system.
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid's window sticker give a fuel economy of 38 miles per gallon. I think this is great of an SUV of this size. However, whether you get a 38 MPG, more or less depends on your driving habits. In the beginning I drove very relaxed and as slow as I could on country roads. With that type of driving I got close to 41 miles per gallon. However, when I changed my driving habits my MPG fell to 38 miles per gallon then to 36 miles per gallon.
Yet, still, I got good MPG when driving in city streets.
In terms of design, the hybrid version does very little to differentiate itself from an ordinary Sportage, except for a few notable badges on its body. Ditto for the cabin which sports the same stylistic theme and the same general presentation as its colleague, if it is only a few features of observation of fuel economy which have been added to the multimedia system.
As for its style, it changes drastically to borrow the new signature of the brand's products, something we have seen with the new Sorento, in particular. The 2023 Kia Sportage's style makes a clean break with that of the old one, which is an excellent thing. If there is a connection between the two, it is that the lines of the muzzle remained twisted. At the back, let's emphasize that the pencil stroke is more harmonious. I like the front, but I like the back even more.
This large, curved screen definitely catches the eye when you sit down in the new 2023 Sportage hybrid. The uninterrupted screen actually contains both the driver's data screen and the multimedia screen, and its qualities go beyond its size: the resolution is crisp and the graphics are well organized, clear and fast to appear.
In general, the 2023 Kia Sportage's interior is a modern cabin whose style is clearly superior to that of the outgoing model (which dated from 2016, remember, but with some minor updates since). The surfaces generally look nice. The center console layout is basically the same as that found in the highly futuristic EV6 electric, including the same row of dual-purpose controls under the multimedia screen, which manages either the climate control system or the audio system, depending on which setting you switch to.
I don't remember seeing a dual-purpose controls in vehicles I have tested, but I liked the idea a lot (after getting used to it). It's a clever way to save space and streamline the console, but the problem with it is that unless you take your eyes off the road every times to make sure you're in the "right" row, you'll find yourself turning up the volume when you meant to turn up the cabin temperature, and vice versa. Indeed, not only are the touch controls on the row dual-purpose, but so are the physical buttons that complement it. Having said that I liked the dual-purpose controls, I still think I would prefer my audio button to manage the sound level only. But you still have a button on the steering wheel that does just that.
Note that while the base model benefits from wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, even though it has a small screen, the larger screen on higher versions of the Sportage only allows for a wired connection. Kia reps explained to Auto123 reviewer that it has to do with the increased complexity of the larger system, but it's odd to get less for more money in this case.
The seats of the 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid are both supportive and comfortable. The interior space is generous in both rows. The Sportage's increased dimensions allowed designers to increase rear legroom from 970 to 1,050 mm. They have done even better in the back, increasing cargo capacity with the seats in place (from 798 liters previously) to 1,121 liters. There's a catch, though, because if you go for the hybrid version, you lose some of that space (118 liters to be exact, for a total of 1,003 litres). However, my hybrid version that I test-drove for this review purpose still had plenty of cargo space.
Driving The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid
When you drive the hybrid 2023 Kia Sportage, you get a feeling of fair power. Comfort dominates. We took a long trip beside driving in the city limits and can say that this is a very comfortable SUV. The chassis is also set to maximize the thing, to the detriment of a sportiness that more characterized the replaced version. The Sportage responds well when handled gently, not harshly.
My conclusion is that for comfort, space, tech and MPG, the hybrid Sportage answers the call for an SUV of that size. I particularly like the improved interior volume, neat interior presentation and its aroun38-miles MPG.
The EX Hybrid of the 2023 Sportage is offered at $33,860, which also includes the $1,215 inland freight and handling charge.
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.