2023 Kia Sportage, All you want to know about a Great Car
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid Adds Greener Substance to Sharp Style
The reimagined Sportage gets a turbo hybrid powertrain.
Power, style, and efficiency. At one time, you could likely have two of any of these attributes. The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid posits the question: Can you have it all? Kia thinks so, which is why this version of the new Sportage (which was unveiled in non-hybrid form back in October) packs a 226-hp hybrid powertrain that should return up to 39 mpg.
That’s Kia’s number, and it’s a target for the most efficient Sportage hybrid, the front-wheel-drive model. We don’t have official EPA mileage figures yet, nor do we know how much the all-wheel-drive version will drop fuel economy. Also unknown: pricing. All that will be revealed closer to the on-sale date, we’re sure.
As for what we do know, the Hybrid is largely similar to the regular gas Sportage inside and out. It gets unique 17- and 18-inch wheel designs, and some “HEV” badging, but otherwise it is largely indistinguishable. The same goes for the interior, although the Hybrid is well-equipped as standard and offers plenty of optional comfort, entertainment and safety features. Three trim levels will be offered: LX, EX, and SX-Prestige, with LX being the only trim with available FWD.
So the powertrain is the main difference, and it consists of a 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 paired with a single 44-kW motor and a 1.49 kWh battery, channeling power through a six-speed automatic. No surprise that this mechanical package and its output is identical to its platform-mate, the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. That said, the Tucson Hybrid comes standard with AWD, so the FWD Sportage Hybrid will likely have an absolute fuel economy advantage (and possibly a price advantage, too). The Sportage Hybrid can tow, too, with a 2,000 lbs tow capacity rating.
We expect a PHEV variant to follow on, but details of this are not yet available. If the Sportage Hybrid is any guide, and it should be, the Sportage PHEV should be very similar to the Tucson PHEV, pairing the same 1.6-liter turbo I-4 with a larger 13.8-kWh battery.
Hyundai and Kia are clearly rivals, albeit sibling rivals. The two brands feature overlapping offerings, each with a distinct character and design. This competition is proving very good for consumers with an eye for style, as the two brands trade bleeding-edge design broadsides.
Take, for instance, the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s neo-retro vibe. Kia’s EV6 rides on the same platform, with an equally avant-garde look—but much sleeker. The EV6 is part of Kia’s forward-looking “Opposites United” design philosophy. Kia’s electric SUV may have forged this design language, but the brand new 2023 Kia Sportage is going to be its crucible.
It’s a reimagining the Sportage desperately needed—the current model debuted way back in 2016 for the 2017 model year. The Sportage’s styling turned heads a half-decade or so ago (it was certainly provocative, by the standards of the time), but now it just looks stale.
Especially next to the new model. Look at the complex interplay between the boomerang running lights and the new “Digital Tiger Face”—a paired design element that sits above, and complements, a complex and contemporary grille. As is the trend, the actual headlamps are less prominent than the boomerang running lights. Below the grille, a wide lower intake and fog lamps sit below a body-colored chinstrap.
The sides are deeply sculpted, and the kicked-up D-pillar garnish is a neat variation on the floating roof theme, which will surely be enhanced with the option of a contrasting black-finished roof. The rear plays with some EV6 styling concepts (albeit with less dramatic, larger taillights), but on the whole, this is a bold look for Kia compact SUV. In fact, it barely registers as a relative of today’s Sportage.
The interior has almost as much of the sci-fi shuttlecraft look as the EV6’s cabin. The most prominent part is the massive curved slab, a fusion of infotainment and instrument display that comes off a bit like a junior varsity version of the Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen, covering nearly 25 inches of real state. It sweeps across an elegant dash, terminating where a large air vent and trim piece picks up and sweeps clear to the door card. There are contrasting material colors melded with piano black and bright metal—particularly in the large, solid-looking interior door handles.
Just like with its newest models, Kia is expanding technology to the masses. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and a new touchpad for the HVAC controls brings an upscale touch to the already premium-looking cabin.
The 2023 Kia Sportage will arrive with a diverse lineup. LX, EX, SX and SX-Prestige will serve as the urban models, while the X-Line and the new X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige will offer more off-road capability including standard all-wheel drive.
Sharing its platform with the Hyundai Tucson, the Sportage is much longer than the outgoing model—7.1 inches to be exact. That, along with the 3.4-inch longer wheelbase, means the new model has more passenger and cargo space. Kia says those in the rear will have 41.3 inches of legroom, while cargo capacity increases to 39.6 cubic feet.
Although Kia hasn’t given us full specs on the Sportage, we can anticipate it will share most of them with the Hyundai Tucson. What we do know is that a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder will serve as the base engine for the Sportage, with Kia targeting 187 hp (just like in the Tucson). An eight-speed automatic will send that power to the front wheels, or all four corners if all-wheel drive is selected. Although Kia hasn’t revealed torque numbers, we expect it will deliver the same 178 lb-ft the Tucson delivers.
While the Sportage will be available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid form, Kia is keeping quiet on specs or timing. Expect the same powertrains as in the Tucson, with the hybrid delivering 226 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the plug-in hybrid delivering 261 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque.
Sportage X-Line and X-Pro variants come standard with AWD and synthetic leather seats that are easy to clean, according to Kia. X-Line can be easily distinguished thanks to its much different lower front fascia, blocky side sill trim, 19-inch wheels, a patterned rear bumper, and the addition of a roof rack. Inside, sage green or black trimmed seats pair with quilted accents and “black metal wood” for a premium outdoorsy feel. In addition to the BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, X-Pro models get 17-inch matte black off-road wheels, multi-terrain drive modes with Normal, Sport, Smart and Snow modes and an available two-tone roof.
The 2023 Kia Sportage will arrive with a long list of standard safety technologies including lane keeping assist, forward collision avoidance with cyclist detection, rear view monitor and automatic high beams. More equipped models can upgrade to features like blind-spot view monitor, highway driving assist, navigation-based smart cruise control, and smart cruise control, among others.
We’ll have more details on the 2023 Kia Sportage — including its price and specs on the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants — once it arrives to the U.S. in the first quarter of next year.
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