What Is It?
Kia’s top-selling model in the U.S. market, the redesigned 2023 Sportage compact crossover is now on sale, including the first-ever Sportage Hybrid. Sportage is the longest-running nameplate for Kia in the U.S. market, and still going strong with the recent launch of the fifth-generation 2023 model. In fact, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid helped push the Sportage line to its best sales month ever in June 2022.
Kia provided us with a 2023 Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige AWD to test drive, at a starting MSRP of $36,190 and a price as-tested of $38,155. The test vehicle included Shadow Matte Gray paint, carpeted floormats and a freight and handling charge. Kia Hybrid is offered in LX and EX trim levels, with LX starting at $27,290 and EX starting at $30,990. The Sportage Hybrid LX has front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is standard equipment on the Sportage Hybrid SX and Sportage SX-Prestige. All-wheel drive is available for the Sportage Hybrid LX at an additional cost of $1,800.
The 2023 Kia Sportage features a bold new design that Kia calls “Opposites United,” combining smooth surfaces with sharp angles. At the front, the Tiger Nose grille has a floating design positioned above a wide, blacked-out grille that spreads across the front fascia. The boomerang-shaped daytime running lights are positioned inside the headlights, which are pushed to the outer corners of the vehicle.
The crisp Sportage styling continues in profile, with a strong shoulder line that starts at the rear door and flows into wraparound taillights. Pronounced fender flares give the hybrid crossover a bold look. At the rear of the 2023 Kia Sportage, the LED taillights are connected by a dark line that spans the rear hatch above a bold display of the new KIA logo in the center of the hatch. The license plate gets positioned at the lower edge of the hatch above a rear fascia that hides the exhaust outlet.
Built on the same new platform as the Sorento, the Sportage Hybrid chassis offers a rigid base to improve driving dynamics through the use of hot-stamped parts and ultra-high-strength steel. Larger than the outgoing model, the new Sportage is 7.1 inches longer overall and rides on a 3.4-inch-longer wheelbase to provide 41.3 inches of rear-seat legroom and 39.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
2023 Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige
As the top trim level of the Sportage Hybrid, the SX-Prestige offers a high level of standard equipment including a dual panoramic curved display that connects the 12.3-inch digital instrument display with the 12.3-inch infotainment screen. The Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige features include dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, heated/ventilated front seats, a heated windshield, a heated steering wheel, 18-inch Dark Gray alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a Harmon/Kardon premium audio system and smart cruise control with stop and go. LED lighting includes projection headlights, fog lights, rear combination lights and interior lighting.
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid interior possesses a modern, high-tech vibe thanks to the available dual-display at the center of the dash as the visual focal point, with both digital instrumentation and infotainment screens. The center console offers useful space ahead of the electronic shifter, with available wireless charging and USB ports. Adjustable cupholders have retractable sides to stabilize smaller cups. Leather seats are not offered, although the test vehicle included Premium SynTex synthetic leather seating in Carmine Red with stitching and a pattern for a more upscale feel.
Dual Purpose Controls
An interesting aspect of the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid’s interior design is a control panel below that center vents that includes controls for both the climate system and infotainment/navigation — but not at the same time. With a knob on each end and touch buttons in between, at the touch of one button the controls toggle between climate control and infotainment. The left and right knobs control either dual temperature zones or volume and tuning, with other relevant buttons for climate control or infotainment in between. It’s an attractive, innovative design.
Under the Hood
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine producing 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 44 kW electric motor and a 13 kW starter generator for total combined output of 227 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power gets delivered through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters to all-wheel drive and a center locking differential. Electricity is stored in a 1.49 kWh battery, and Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige receives EPA ratings of 38 mpg city / 38 mpg highway / 38 mpg combined. Drive Mode Select offers Eco, Sport, Smart and Snow modes.
On the Road
Thanks to plenty of power, responsive steering and a comfortable ride, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige is extremely fun to drive. Without aggressive acceleration, the Sportage Hybrid starts out under electric power, adding the gasoline engine when needed and switching back to electric when cruising at steady speeds. During the first couple days of testing, around town overall fuel economy stayed in the lower 30s even with hilly terrain, although several days of combined highway and in-town driving boosted the overall economy to 37.5 mpg for the week — just below the EPA combined estimate.
We left the drive mode in Smart most of the time and discovered accelerator response to be fine for everyday driving. We switched to Sport mode for more responsive acceleration in certain situations, and more use of Eco would no doubt boost the fuel economy given the mode’s leisurely acceleration. Smart mode offers plenty of response for normal driving while adjusting to be most efficient.
We like the new exterior design of the 2023 Kia Sportage. It’s bold without being too extreme. The Shadow Matte Gray paint matches the new look well, along with the dark gray alloy wheels of the SX-Prestige.
We would call the new interior design of the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid a hit. The dual-screen panoramic design was only offered in luxury cars a scant few years ago, and it gives the new Sportage an upscale feeling. The controls are intuitive and well laid out, and we like the dual-mode control panel for climate control and infotainment/navigation. The center console is well designed and very useful. The front seats are roomy and comfortable for both driver and passenger, and the second row offers plenty of legroom and headroom, with ample cargo space behind. The Carmine Red interior also adds some sporty flair and is a nice complement to the Shadow Matte Grey exterior.
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige has a bold, modern look with a high level of standard equipment at a reasonable price, and it delivers impressive real-world fuel economy. The interior is comfortable and well designed, making the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid a compelling choice in the competitive compact crossover segment.