Review by Veeno Dewan
The Kia Sportage has been a stalwart seller for the brand ever since its introduction over two decades ago, And now the fifth generation of this compact crossover is the best so far. With its sleek premium looks and upmarket interior the latest 2023 Sportage is the best looking and well equipped with features and technology as standard that are usually found in far more expensive vehicles.
The 2023 version also scores high with a thoroughly upgraded interior with a cool digital dual-screen cockpit, sleeker dashboard design, and a center console. The top-end 2023 Kia Sportage gets a curved display panel just like in an expensive BMWs that seamlessly merges a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, covering more than half of the dash. There’s a new touchpad with climate and audio controls beneath the infotainment system. A 360-degree Surround-View Monitor with a 3D view is available for the first time in a Sportage.
The Kia Sportage is available with gasoline, hybrid (HEV). PHEV and soon to be released all electric-powered versions. All gas-only models are powered by a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine producing 187 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque peaking at 4,000 rpm, paired with an 8-speed automatic. Power goes to either the front wheels or an active AWD system. AWD is optional in the LX trim and standard in EX and SX-Prestige trims.
The HEV model as tested uses a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 44-kW electric motor powered by a 1.49 kWh battery. A six-speed automatic transmission with a rotary-style shifter and paddle shifters is standard in the hybrid variant. Except for the unique 17- or 18-inch wheels and the HEV badging, the Sportage Hybrid variant looks no different from the gasoline- engine Sportage.
The 2023 Kia model lineup starts with the LX FWD, at $28,395 (plus $1,900 destination charge.) and arrives with as standard: Heated front seats and heated side mirrors, 17-inch wheels, LED headlamps, a 60/40 split rear seat, an eight-inch infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among other features. Forward collision warning, lane keep and follow assist, and a new rear occupant alert system are standard. The EX Premium AWD Hybrid model on test was priced at $48,395 and added such technology niceties as as a 12.3” Supervision Cluster asnd Harmon/Kardon Premium Sound System
Safety comes high with: Rear Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, Highway Driving Assist, Blind View Monitor, Surround View Monitor, and Remote Smart Park Assist.
Interior wise, there is good detailing around the cabin, high quality plastics, glossy black finishes, metal detailing, premium textiles, and material all round, Smart cohesive designs elements add to the upscale ambience. There are cool details such as: multiple USB ports on the backs of the front seats, retracting cup holders and integrated coat hangers in the backs of the front-row headrests. The seat themselves are comfortable and supportive with decent bolstering. Interior room is good with more than adequate room to stretch out. At the rear an adjustable cargo floor can be set to two positions, the lower of which provides a maximum cargo space of 1,121 litres with the rear seats up and 2,098 litres with them folded
On the road, the new 2023 Sportage Hybrid provides a relaxed and stable ride whether on the highway or around town and is agile enough for the cut and thrust of urban driving. The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid powertrain combines a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine (177 hp/195 lb.-ft.) with a 44.2 kW (59.3 hp)/195 lb.-ft. electric motor, and it produces a total power output of 227 hp. The electric motor obtains juice from a 1.49 kWh battery pack. The transition between the hybrid electric motor and the gasoline engine is seamless, with a smooth unobtrusive switchover. The new Sportage Hybrid features a new ‘E-Handling’ system for improved agility and stability during cornering. The MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear provide tight and controlled handling. Steering is well-calibrated with good feel and direct feedback. The driver can select from four drive modes: Eco, Sport, Smart, and Snow (AWD-only).. The hybrid offers an excellent combined 6.2 L/100 km in combined driving and a class-leading 2,000 lb towing capacity.
To sum up, the 2023 Kia Sportage HEV offers great fuel economy, a roomy upscale cabin, desirable features, and plenty of curb appeal. Add to this Kia’s excellent warranty and the very good as standard equipment list and it is very tempting. Kia is now one of the most sought-after brands and has grown in estimation by consumers so order quickly as demand will be high!
2023 Kia Sportage EX Hybrid: priced as tested: $48,395 plus destination.
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