2023 Kia Sportage hybrid

Plenty of upside along with affordable sticker price

Roseville, Calif. – There’s a lot going on with this year’s Kia Sportage. The modestly popular compact SUV has undergone an intriguing transformation.

Not only is the completely redesigned Sportage exterior bigger and bolder, it also arrived with three different configurations – a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid join the lineup alongside the traditional gas-powered version that has been around since 1995. This review will focus solely on the 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid.

Kia did an excellent job in creating the Sportage hybrid. It drew immediate attention by being one of the most affordable compact hybrid crossover SUVs on the market, starting at around $27,550. In its first year, the Sportage hybrid is already being hailed as comparable to some heavyweights like hybrid versions of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape.

Previously an SUV that looked like a compact, one might think the fifth-generation Sportage now appears more like a midsize model. All versions of the Sportage are 7.1 inches longer and the width and height have grown by an inch. The new exterior features a wide grille, sloping hood and what some describe as “distinctive alien-styled headlamps.”

There are many plusses that come with the Sportage hybrid. Thanks to the overall size increase, it has a huge cargo area for a compact SUV. It also delivers a quality ride, has an impressive turbocharged engine, spacious seating, a vastly improved interior, and terrific fuel economy.

AT A GLANCE – 2023 KIA SPORTAGE HYBRID

  • Performance: electric motor, turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder, 227 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 38-44 mpg
  • Price estimate: $27,500 to $36,400
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/100,000

Performance

Performance is another positive aspect of the Sportage hybrid. It ranks as one of the quickest hybrids in the class. The new turbo engine has smooth power and also provides good highway passing capability due to its quick-shifting transmission.

The engine is a turbo 1.6-liter, four-cylinder that’s paired with an electric motor, generating 227 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the previous Sportage, the hybrid has added 40 more horsepower and increased the torque by 80 pound-feet. It goes 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds and the fuel economy is excellent at 38-44 mpg.

Front-wheel drive comes standard, but all-wheel drive is available. Note that front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is available in the base LX trim and the EX and SX Prestige models can only be purchased with AWD.

The ride…

Although this is not a sporty SUV, we found the Sportage hybrid ride quality smooth with good handling, steering and braking, making it easy to maneuver in tight parking areas. It offers the following standard driver safety assistance – lane departure warning, lane keeping system, driver attention warning, automatic emergency braking, and high-beam assist.

Inside

2023 Kia Sportage hybrid interior

The Sportage hybrid has a smart-designed interior with lots of technology, although some of it can be a little frustrating to grasp. Learning to use the switch that replaces the climate controls for media and navigation controls will relieve some of the frustration.

A new modernized look includes a 12.2-inch digital instrument panel that’s paired with a standard 8-inch touchscreen display. Also standard are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, and multiple USB ports in both rows.

Seating is comfortable for all five passengers. Even taller folks can spread out in the back with a class-leading 41.3 inches of legroom. Cargo space is massive at 39.5 cubic feet behind the second row and extends to 73.7 cubes with the row folded to the floor.

There’s lots of upside to the new 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid. It starts with an improved interior and exterior, yet doesn’t stop there. The hybrid SUV has terrific interior space, a peppy engine, good driving dynamics, and excellent fuel economy. And don’t forget the affordable sticker price.

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