2023 Kia Sportage

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2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
May 2, 2022

Buying tip

The 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid drives better and is more efficient, and only costs about $1,300 more than the gas model.

features & specs

EX AWD
EX FWD
LX AWD
MPG
23 city / 28 hwy
MPG
25 city / 32 hwy
MPG
23 city / 28 hwy
MSRP
$29,790
MSRP
$27,990
MSRP
$27,790

The 2023 Kia Sportage grows into mid-size SUV proportions, and is loaded with standard safety and convenience features.

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Kia Sportage? What does it compare to?

The Sportage is a compact crossover SUV that grows in size and features for the latest generation. With seating for five and new off-road-leaning trims, the Sportage rivals vehicles such as the Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.

Is the 2023 Kia Sportage a good crossover SUV?

Review continues below

The redesigned Sportage overcomes its uninspired driving dynamics with excellent safety and convenience features, a roomy interior, and enough options to suit any taste. It earns a solid TCC Rating of 6.6 out of 10 before a safety score has been finalized. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2023 Kia Sportage?

The fifth-generation Sportage wears a sharper face and sports a roomier interior thanks to its longer body. Two off-road trims, X-Line and X-Pro, expand the line to seven models, with gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains.  

Kia broadened its face to match the broader proportions of its bestselling crossover. Vertical DRLs boomerang from the bumper to the fender and LED lighting front and back defines the Sportage from day to night. On X-models, a black roof holds up raised roof rails, and tasteful black cladding runs over round wheel arches for a clean, smart profile that looks more like a Subaru than the daring Hyundai Tucson.

Inside, most models feature a 12.3-inch touchscreen underscored by a touch panel of climate controls. Hybrid models get a dial gear shifter, whereas gas models have a mechanical shifter. Adjustable cupholders and deep storage cubbies reflect the focus on space. 

The Sportage can be had with essentially four different driving personalities. An underpowered 187-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 comes with a begrudging 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. X-Pro grades add standard all-wheel drive and off-road enhancements that can handle rutted service roads or hilly backcountry paths. A 227-hp hybrid with a 1.6-liter turbo-4 and a 6-speed automatic drives more smoothly and with much more efficiency at 43 mpg combined. In any variant we tested the Sportage and its independent suspension wallows over humps and leans through corners. A forthcoming plug-in hybrid promises 32 miles of electric range. 

Slotting between the smaller Kia Seltos the three-row Kia Sorento with which it shares a platform, the Sportage grew from one of the smallest in the class to one of the roomiest. 

Safety remains as big a priority as space in the new Sportage. Standard safety gear includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and parking sensors. Options include a surround-view camera system that’s as helpful for mall parking as for off-roading. The new Sportage awaits crash-test results. 

How much does the 2023 Kia Sportage cost?

Pricing ranges from $27,245 for the base LX with front-wheel drive to $38,045 for the X-Pro Prestige with all-wheel drive. Prices include a $1,255 destination fee. The expanded lineup includes LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, and X-Line, as well as X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige. X-badged models come standard with AWD, though it can be added on other trims for $1,800. Hybrids come in LX with front-wheel drive, EX, and SX-Prestige trims with AWD. 

Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12.2-inch digital instrument cluster, and Bluetooth pairing for two phones simultaneously. Options include twin 12.3-inch screens under one curved panel of glass, wireless smartphone charging, and Harman Kardon sound.

Where is the 2023 Kia Sportage made?

Most Sportages will be made in West Point, Georgia, alongside the Telluride, Sorento, and K5. Others will be imported from South Korea.


7

2023 Kia Sportage

Styling

Bigger and bolder, the 2023 Kia Sportage sports a dual-natured look.

Is the Kia Sportage a good-looking car?

Kia doesn’t try too hard to make the new Sportage stand out, giving it a welcoming presence as either a subtle hybrid or a suggestive off-roader. This dual nature earns it a point as does its interesting interior. It’s a 7. 

The bigger dogbone grille matches the bigger Sportage proportions, as do big lower faux intake panels. LED lighting abounds, but the boomerang DRLs tie the face together. Kia ironed out the hood creases to the edges, and modest black cladding runs over round wheel arches to the rear. LED taillights bridge the tailgate. As on other new Kias, bits of flair wink here and there. 

The X-Line model gets distinct bumpers and gloss-black side mirrors, roof rails, window surrounds, and 19-inch wheels. The X-Pro adds off-road tires wrapped on 17-inch black wheels, LED fog lights, and a two-tone roof. 

Inside, all but the base LX comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen oriented horizontally. An available 25-inch display that integrates the digital cluster curves toward the driver under one pane of glass.

Same as in the Kia EV6, the touch-sensitive climate control panel doubles as a menu bar: press the arrow button and the temperature dials change to audio volume and tuning, and the climate controls change to a menu bar for the touchscreen. Asymmetrical vents framed with chrome-like plastic add visual curiosity to more refined wood and carbon-fiber-like trim. The smudgy gloss-black plastic console and door panels take away from that premium shine.

Review continues below
5

2023 Kia Sportage

Performance

The 2023 Sportage prioritizes comfort over sport.

The Sportage doesn’t earn a point for its sluggish acceleration or its soft handling, but Kia offers shoppers distinct driving characteristics that cast a wide net. It’s a 5. If rated alone, the hybrid would score a 6. 

How fast is the Kia Sportage?

We estimate a 0-60 mph time in the mid-seven second range, but lighter-weight front-drive models might be a tad quicker. Quickness is not the Sportage’s forte. The underpowered 187-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 makes 178 lb-ft of torque, and the sluggish 8-speed automatic transmission hesitates to engage from a stop and at speed. It’s designed more for efficiency than power delivery, so any urgency on the throttle results in the engine running high and the cabin filling with noise. 

The 227-hp hybrid pairs a 1.6-liter turbo-4 with a small 44-kw motor charged by a 1.49-kwh lithium-ion battery. With the 6-speed automatic, it drives smoother and much quieter than the gas model, and has a bit more life under throttle. There’s no hitch when the engine comes on and the shifts are nearly seamless. 

In any variant we tested the Sportage plies in comfort not sport, and the independent suspension—with MacPherson front struts and a multi-link rear setup in back—wallows over humps and leans through corners. Steering is numb but that’s nothing unusual for the class. 

Late this summer, a Sportage plug-in hybrid will have the same 1.6-liter turbo-4 but a larger motor and battery pack with a target 32 miles of electric range. 

Is the Kia Sportage 4WD?

Front-wheel drive comes standard on both gas and hybrid models, but all-wheel drive can be added for $1,800. With a center-locking differential, AWD comes standard on Hybrid EX and SX-Prestige models, as well as the gas X-grade models. The AWD models gain 1.5 inches of ground clearance over the old model, to 8.3 inches, while FWD models sit at 7.1 inches. 

X-Things

In addition to the cosmetic differences mentioned in the preceding section, the X-Line comes with four drive modes and 19-inch wheels. It has no more off-road functionality than other grades.

The big difference on the X-Pro models is the addition of 17-inch wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich all-terrain tires. With the push of a button, the locking center differential locks torque 50/50 between the axles for better grip on loose uphill surfaces as well as for negotiating dry creek beds or uneven, rutted paths. It’s no Wrangler, but it can handle Subaru-like terrain. 

A hill descent control and surround-view camera system help navigate obstacles at up to 5 mph. LED fog lights and LED projector headlights on X-Pro Prestige grades light up the night better, we’re told.

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8

2023 Kia Sportage

Comfort & Quality

The 2023 Sportage excels in space and comfort.

With roomy front and back seats, and above average cargo space, the new Sportage earns an 8. 

Sharing a platform with the seven-seat Kia Sorento, the new Sportage is half an inch wider and taller, and 7.1 inches longer with a 3.4 inch longer wheelbase than its predecessor. It seats five, and the fifth person might not even feel like the fifth wheel. 

The longer wheelbase opens up what were already spacious rear seats to larger SUV comfort with 41.3 inches of rear leg room. Head room and shoulder room are good, though the front seat cushions might be on the small side for more generously-sized Americans. All but the base LX gets a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat. More durable synthetic leather upholstery covers the seats and armrests, but animal-hide leather still wraps the steering wheel and shift knob on higher trims. 

The roomy rear seats can recline or be folded down from convenient latches in the back. A two-tiered cargo floor adds more depth and hidden storage. Fold down the 60/40-split seats and the space expands from 39.6 to 74.1 cubic feet, which is only 1.4 cubic feet shy of the Sorento. The hybrid components sacrifice little interior space at 73.7 cubic feet. The hybrid in particular has a calm, quiet cabin that’s more refined than the gas models.

Review continues below

2023 Kia Sportage

Safety

The 2023 Sportage awaits crash-test results.

How safe is the Kia Sportage?

The suite of standard safety gear and available driver-assist features earn the Sportage a point each, but we can’t give it a final grade until crash testing is completed. Outward vision is good except for deep blind spots caused by thick rear quarter pillars. 

The Sportage has LED headlights with automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active lane control, parking sensors, and a rear-occupant alert. Options include blind-spot monitors with camera projections in the cluster that can alert you of oncoming cyclists or cars, a navigation-based adaptive cruise control that can adjust speeds based on posted speed limits, and a limited hands-free driving system on the highway. A surround-view camera system with birds-eye views as well as front wheel projections simplifies parking and off-roading.

Review continues below
10

2023 Kia Sportage

Features

The 2023 Sportage sets the bar for how to equip and warranty a crossover SUV.

Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12.2-inch digital instrument cluster, and Bluetooth pairing for two phones simultaneously. Those features, plus luxury-leaning options, a good infotainment system with natural voice commands, and a starting price of $27,245 for the base LX all earn the 2023 Sportage a point. The cherry on top is Kia’s industry-leading 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. It checks all our Features boxes for a perfect 10. 

Which Kia Sportage should I buy?

The hybrid resonates with a $28,545 starting price, which is only $1,300 more than the base LX. Offered in LX, EX, and SX-Prestige trims, the hybrid follows a similar feature set as the gas model. If you’re getting AWD, consider the hybrid EX with standard AWD for $32,245. In addition to the larger touchscreen (at the expense of wireless smartphone connectivity, though it adds wireless charging), the wheels grow to 18 inches, synthetic leather replaces cloth upholstery, and it comes with heated side mirrors, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. 

How much is a fully loaded Kia Sportage?

The X-Pro prestige tops the lineup at $38,045. In addition to the cosmetic and mechanical upgrades, it has a wood dash trim, a power passenger seat, cooled front seats, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot cameras, and heated windshield nozzles.

Review continues below

3

2023 Kia Sportage

Fuel Economy

The Sportage Hybrid has an excellent 43 mpg combined rating.

Is the Kia Sportage good on gas?

Yes, especially the hybrid and its EPA-rated 42 mpg city, 44 highway, 43 combined with front wheel drive. All-wheel drive drops it to 38 mpg across the board, which trails the 40 mpg of the RAV4 and Ford Escape hybrids. If rated alone, the Sportage Hybrid would earn a 6 on our scale. 

Kia expects the gas model to be the volume seller, and its EPA rating of 25/32/28 mpg with FWD scores a 3 here. AWD models get 23/28/25 mpg. Both estimates trail the competition by about 2 mpg on average.

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$25,990
MSRP based on LX FWD
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6.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 10
Fuel Economy 3
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2023 Kia Sportage Pricing Insights

  • 2023 Kia Sportage arriving with limited availability; 2022s sold out
  • Lease: From $269 per month for 36 months
  • Rebate: No cash incentives
  • Finance: No special financing rates
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