2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid First Test: Good Power, Good MPG
This is the Sportage to buy.
- More power, less gas
- Spacious cabin
- Luxurylike technology
- Climate and radio controls
- Soft steering
- High body roll
In a world where compact SUVs remain the bestselling vehicles on the market, the hybrid niche of these compact SUVs is maybe even hotter—especially given today’s sky-high gas prices. The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid enters the market at a time when other automakers have already launched hybrid variants of their compact crossovers. But the Sportage Hybrid finds a way to be different from the rest with its bold styling and best-in-class fuel economy for the front-drive model—plus, this Kia also has a lower starting price.
Jumping to the all-wheel-drive variant will increase the price and lower the mpg numbers, but the Sportage Hybrid is better than the regular variant, delivering more power and drinking less gas for only a small premium of between $900 and $1,300.
Why You Should Buy The Sportage Hybrid
As if getting better fuel economy and more power wasn’t enough, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid demands basically no compromises to do so. The LX front-drive model starts at $28,545, but we spent time driving in the top-of-the-line SX-Prestige trim, which comes standard with all-wheel drive and costs $37,545. That not insignificant price gap is noted in the quality of materials and additional technology, but any model within the Sportage Hybrid lineup will satisfy. And those prices compare well against those of other compact hybrid SUVs.
Regardless of the trim, all Sportage Hybrids are powered by a 1.6-liter turbo-four engine mated to a 44-kW electric motor to deliver 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The base LX trim sends all that power to the front wheels, but an all-wheel-drive system on EX and SX-Prestige trims can split the power between the front and rear axle when needed.
Like we said before, the LX gets bragging rights for its fuel economy, delivering EPA ratings of 42/44/43 mpg in city/highway/combined driving thanks to its front-drive setup. EX and SX-Prestige models aren’t too far off, as they are rated for 38/38/38 mpg. Although the AWD numbers aren’t class-leading, they are competitive.
All in all, this is exactly why you should get the Sportage Hybrid over the regular model. You’ll be able to make up for the price premium at the pump, and you’ll enjoy more performance behind the wheel.
How Does It Drive?
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid delivers strong, smooth acceleration, with the electric motor administering instant torque that’s quickly augmented by the turbo’s power. The result is a robust punch when rolling from a stop.
Although a 0-60-mph time of 7.2 seconds and a quarter-mile result of 15.5 seconds at 90.3 mph aren’t eye-popping, the Sportage feels more powerful in practice. Road test editor Chris Walton said its acceleration was “impressive with very smooth shifts,” though he noted a lot of dive and roll during our skidpad test. Compact SUVs aren’t known for their superb body and dive control, and the Sportage’s 3,902 curb weight doesn’t help much—especially when almost 60 percent of it is on the front axle.
The suspension does a good job keeping vibrations away from the cabin, but things start feeling a bit nervous on severely broken pavement. On smoother roads and highways, though, the Sportage is a comfortable cruiser. The interior is quiet even when reaching high speeds, and the overall ride is serene.
Steering is exactly what we would expect from an SUV in this segment—too light for our liking, but it’s accurate and linear. Sport mode adds some weight, but it’s still shy of what we’d call sporty. However, this is a minor quibble, and most customers will be perfectly happy with the way the Sportage hybrid steers.
How’s The Interior?
This new-generation Sportage is much longer and wider than before, which is good news. Whether you sit in the front or rear seats, there’s plenty of space for adults, and cargo room is ample. The rear seats can be folded from the cargo area or via a lever next to the seats, and the cargo floor can be adjusted between two heights.
Besides the added space and refined packaging, the Sportage’s interior design is stunning. The attention to detail found in the cabin is something we’re used to seeing in a luxury SUV, not in a $38,000 mainstream crossover. We did have the top-trim model, but there’s even better value in the EX, as it gets most of the technology and amenities of the SX-Prestige at a significantly lower price.
The dual 12.3-inch curved displays look like they trickled down from a Mercedes-Benz product, and the cool air vent and door handle designs bring panache to what are typically just functional elements. The dashboard looks upscale, and we like the ample storage in the center stack.
It’s not all wonderful, as we aren’t big fans of the new capacitive touch switchgear for the climate control and radio, which are found under the central air vents. You must press an on-screen button to switch between these functions, which also affects the two knobs flanking the screen—you use the same knob for the volume and for the driver’s temperature. This is quite frustrating, as intending to lower the volume can result in you lowering the temperature, which happened to us multiple times during our test.
That aside, the interior is a good place to spend time. Some of the plastics on the door panels don’t match the otherwise upscale vibe, but the leatherette on the steering wheel and seats feels premium. Tech-wise, everything you need is here, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment doesn’t support wireless connectivity for those smartphone-mirroring functions, though, so you’ll have to use a cable to connect your device.
Is The Sportage Hybrid Worth It?
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is the Sportage to buy. It delivers more power and more mpg for only slightly more money—a nice trade-off.
The powertrain feels punchy, and this hybrid SUV drives comfortably over the road. Although its handling isn’t notably amazing, it’s at least on par with what you find across the compact SUV segment. And given this is the first-ever Sportage Hybrid, its excellence is even more impressive. Expect it to make inroads—and quickly—in the increasingly popular eco-friendly compact SUV space.
Looks good! More details?
|2023 Kia Sportage HEV (SX Prestige) Specifications|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$38,195|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine/elec motor, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||1.6L Turbo direct-injected DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|POWER (SAE NET)||177 hp @ 5,500 rpm (gas), 59 hp (elec); 227 hp (comb)|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm (gas), 195 lb-ft (elec); 258 (comb)|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,902 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||183.5 x 73.4 x 66.1|
|0-60 MPH||7.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.5 sec @ 90.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||126 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.7 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||38/38/38 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||521 miles|