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The 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV Delivers Impressive Fuel Efficiency and Performance

This week Torque News reviews the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV in X-Line Prestige AWD trim. With the Sorento and now the Sportage, Kia now has two PHEV SUVs. But note that there are also regular and hybrid versions.

The 2023 Kia Sportage is a compact crossover that stands out with its bold styling, featuring distinctive headlights and grille. It offers a spacious interior and cargo space and comes equipped with advanced technology, including a large dash-mounted screen. The Sportage offers three powertrain options: a 187-hp four-cylinder, a 226-hp hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid with 34 miles of electric range. Despite competition from popular models like the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V, the Sportage offers more than just its unique exterior design.

What picked up speed in 2022 is likely to take off in 2023. Yes, the electrified offer is more and more extensive on the market. Not only are the number of electric vehicles growing every year but so are plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is the case even if this alternative could eventually disappear in a 100% electric future.

On the Kia side, one of the newest models from the Korean division is the Kia Sportage PHEV 2023. Torque News drove the Kia Sportage PHEV in X-Line Prestige AWD trim of this model which is likely to be of great interest to long-distance drivers.

In the compact-size SUV segment, a few models are available with a plug-in powertrain. In this segment, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which is renewed for 2023, and Toyota RAV4 Prime, are few of the top competitors.

2023 KIA Sportage PHEV rear side

In fact, see our previous comparison of the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid. But we shouldn't also forget Hyundai in this equation with its two PHEV SUVs, the Tucson and the Santa Fe. At Ford, the Escape plays the role of its own SUV (with only two-wheel drive, however).

What's New In 2023 Sportage?

The 2023 Kia Sportage marks the start of a new generation, bringing in fresh changes to the compact crossover. One of the most notable additions is the availability of hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains. The plug-in-hybrid option now puts the Kia Sportage in competition with other popular models like the Hyundai Tucson plug-in hybrid and the Toyota RAV4 Prime. The introduction of these eco-friendly powertrains demonstrates Kia's commitment to sustainability and their efforts to stay ahead in the ever-growing green car market.

Exterior Design of the 2023 Kia Sportage

As is often the case with these electrified versions, the designers of the brand preferred the card of sobriety rather than that used for all-electric vehicles. The Sportage PHEV is therefore a carbon copy of the hybrid version of the Sportage, with the exception of the small badge placed at the base of the tailgate behind.

Some reviewers think the 2023 Sportage has a catfish front design. But I like it the way it looks, which I find rather extrovert design.

Either way, the Sportage's fairly unique design doesn't really need any extra gimmicks to distinguish itself from other SUVs in the category. With this shield that looks like no other vehicle on the road – not even a member of the Kia family – the Sportage is easily recognizable with its boomerang-shaped daytime running lights.

The new 2023 Sportage is Kia's largest and most significant global model. It is also the most advanced model from the Korean manufacturer.

The fifth generation of the Kia Sportage is the company's most impressive effort and demonstrates their commitment to quality. Despite competition from larger models like the Sorento and Telluride, the Sportage stands out and outshines them both by a large margin. Overall, the Sportage is a significant compact crossover.

Inside The Cabin of 2023 Sportage PHEV

The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV boasts a well-appointed interior that provides a comfortable driving experience. The 3.4-inch increase in wheelbase over the previous generation leads to added rear legroom and cargo space.

The interior features high-quality materials, although some areas such as the gear selector and window switches have a lot of piano-black plastic that is prone to attracting fingerprints and dust. The vehicle is equipped with two 12.3-inch displays with clear and crisp displays and Kia's responsive and intuitive infotainment system.

The 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV front interior

The controls below the center screen are not as easy to use and feature a mix of knobs and haptic buttons for climate and audio controls. This can lead to confusion, as the controls can be left in different modes and adjusting the volume may result in unintended changes to the climate. The Sportage does not offer wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but they are available through a wired connection.

The dashboard of the new Sportage is very pretty, probably thanks to these stylized ventilation nozzles, but also by the clarity of its vast panel composed of two screens. The one installed in the center of the dashboard is of course tactile and its use remains easy thanks to large icons and simple applications.

However, I still have a lot of trouble with that other dual-function touch panel (the screen shows the climate control controls, but can also show the audio system controls). It's true that you eventually get used to it, but other than easier cleaning, I really don't see any other advantage to this arrangement.

The 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV second row

In the comfort column, unless you insist on always pushing the mechanics to their limits, the Sportage PHEV is a vehicle that prefers smooth, uneventful rides. The upholstery is soft and the silence that reigns inside are indications of the type of comfort offered by the Sportage, even if it is equipped with 19-inch wheels. 

The 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV trunk

Frankly, I have no complaints about the comfort aspect of the Sportage.

Engine and Performance

The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV is powered by the same system as the plug-in versions of the Sorento and Hyundai Tucson, which delivers 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is achieved by combining a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four engine with an electric motor, fed by a 13.8-kWh battery.

 The 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV engine

The vehicle is all-wheel drive only and the electric motor provides the Sportage with extra power and agility. This is evident in its quick acceleration from a stop and responsive performance in busy traffic. The Sportage PHEV can reach 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, which is 1.5 seconds slower than the Toyota RAV4 Prime, but at 30 mph, it is only 0.3 second behind.

Trims and Pricing

The 2023 Kia Sportage is available in seven trim levels, ranging from the Sportage LX to the Sportage X-Pro Prestige. The Sportage X-Line Prestige, the pricier of two available X-Line trim levels, has a $4,500 upcharge and comes with added driver aids, exterior upgrades, and an upgraded interior with amenities like ambient lighting, sound system, power-adjustable front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and windshield, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The test car was priced at $44,680 and had the only option of Dawning Red paint for $395.

Behind The Wheel of the Sportage PHEV

Being a PHEV, powertrain output is the fastest in the Sportage lineup, even if the small 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo engine has nothing of a bomb. Combined with an 89.7 horsepower electric motor and a 17.4 horsepower hybrid starter generator, the total power reaches a whopping 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Those numbers more than respectable in the compact-sized PHEV SUV segment, but not as impressive as those of the RAV4 Prime on the other hand.

Here I am updating this review of the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV on Nov 8, 2023 and adding this section making a little clarification on the electric motor. The Sportage PHEV shares its powertrain with the plug-in variants of the Sorento and Hyundai Tucson, delivering an impressive 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque through a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four engine combined with an electric motor. Fueled by a 13.8-kWh battery, this PHEV model exclusively offers all-wheel drive. This electrified setup not only enhances the Sportage's performance but also provides the extra punch needed for quick acceleration from standstill and agile maneuvering in congested urban traffic, making it a compelling choice for eco-conscious drivers seeking both power and efficiency (Motor Trend).

 The 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV charging 

The suspension is soft and ideal for our weather-worn roads, while the steering isn't very precise.

Kia claims that to charge the battery from 15 to 100 percent, the vehicle needs two hours on a Level 2 home charging station (240 V) and just over eleven hours on a 120 V outlet.

Charging the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV: The Sportage PHEV can be charged overnight at home, but charging speeds with public chargers can be slow, making it less convenient to keep the battery full for maximum efficiency. Despite the slow charging speeds, the plug-in version is likely to be more fuel-efficient than other variants and offers the option for short electric trips around town.


 2023 KIA Sportage PHEV back  

In conclusion, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV has received a positive review for its responsive optional hybrid powertrain, forgiving ride, and spacious cabin with plenty of technology. The vehicle is well equipped to compete with other SUVs in its segment and does so with style. The electric assistance provides the Sportage with the power it needs, and the well-appointed cabin and infotainment system offer a comfortable driving experience. Overall, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV is a strong option for those in the market for a compact SUV with hybrid power.

Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News TwitterFacebokLinkedin and Youtube.

Reference: Auto123EcoloAutoCar and Driver.


Jim Bratton (not verified)    November 8, 2023 - 2:52PM

Seems like you practically copied this article from Auto123's website, including the mistake about there being an electric motor on the rear axle (that doesn't exist on the Sportage PHEV).

Search the reviews for 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV at auto123 (dot com), specifically the one titled 2023 KIA SPORTAGE PHEV REVIEW: AN OPTION THAT SHOULD INTEREST MANY. That review is dated about a month before this review... please explain how this review is a virtual carbon copy of theirs?

Armen Hareyan    November 8, 2023 - 8:08PM

In reply to by Jim Bratton (not verified)

Jim, I disagree with your assessment of this Sportage review. I know French and used them as a reference at Torque News before writing my own review I read people who have reviewed the vehicle before me to give it a more comprehensive look. I clearly stated my reference sources and linked to them. But I also drove the 2023 Sportage PHEV for a whole week and have written this review from my own perspective. Having said this, I do acknowledge that I saw the EV motor in the rear axel at Auto123 and used it as a reference. Now, thanks to your feedback, I updated that part of this review and made a clarification. Thank you for your feedback.