Completely revamped for 2023, the Kia Sportage is an extra 3.4 inches in wheelbase and 7.1 inches in length than its predecessor, and taller and wider too. But best of all, the compact SUV gets a fresh gas-sipping hybrid power train.
Our test-drive EX model was equipped with a 1.6-liter inline-four turbo engine putting out a total of 227 horsepower (beating the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 hybrids) and 258 pounds-feet of torque. Finding help for that extra energy is a 44-kW electric power backed by a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The fifth-generation crossover utility vehicle, also Kia’s longest-running nameplate, continues with the six-speed auto gear box.
The all-wheel-drive Sportage, which has center-locking differential capabilities, distributes power between front and rear wheels depending on road and driving conditions to result in a safe and comfortable ride. A MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension ensure that the SUV handles the rigors of daily driving with comfort. The motor-driven power steering is quick and precise. Want to save fuel? Switch to eco mode.
A centered gloss-black, ‘tiger-nose’ radiator grille spanning the entire front fascia meets up with LED headlights in outer corners and boomerang daytime running lights to create a sleek and eye-catching appearance. The interior is more spacious than before with rear legroom now at 41.3 inches and cargo capacity topping out at 39.6 cubic feet. And yes, storage bins are scattered throughout, including a dual-level cargo floor. Two 12.3-inch screens, one for the digital instrument cluster and the other for infotainment, float to sync as one. Standard amenities include dual auto AC, a 10-way power driver and four-way front-passenger manual heated seats, D-shaped tilt/telescopic leather steering column, push-button start and 60/40 rear seat.
Kia needs to be commended for offering numerous standard safety features, which are optional in competitor vehicles. Some are dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, rear-cross traffic alert, front/rear park and lane-keep assists, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, four-wheel antilock brakes, rollover sensor, electronic stability, traction and downhill brake controls, hill-start assist, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The revamped Sportage hybrid is a good-looking, sizeable, sporty, useful and inexpensive vehicle. With gas prices still lingering over $3 a gallon, it’s a welcome add-on to the Kia SUV roster. That it comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile power train and battery and a five-year or 60,000-mile basis warranty is a bonus.