2023 Kia Sportage

2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
November 23, 2021

Buying tip

The 2023 Kia Sportage goes on sale in the first quarter of 2022.

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 as well as hybrid and off-road models, the Sportage rivals vehicles such as the related Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape.

Is the 2023 Kia Sportage a good crossover SUV?

Review continues below

Historically, the Sportage’s distinct style and loaded feature set earned it a solid TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10, but we won’t judge the fifth-generation Sportage until we drive it early next year. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2023 Kia Sportage?

The redesigned Sportage wears a sharper face and sports a roomier interior thanks to its longer body. A 226-hp hybrid model targets an 39 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. Two new off-road suggestive trim packages add some poser personality, but the interior on top models can be equipped with twin 12.3-inch displays under a single pane of glass for a futuristic cockpit uncommon in the compact crossover class. 

Kia pinched the grille of the new Sportage with vertical DRLs that boomerang from the bumper to the fender. Kia ironed out the hood creases to the edges, and tasteful black cladding runs over the round wheel arches down the rockers to the rear. In back, LED taillights bridge the tailgate in a single lightbar above a big black panel and wide rear bumper. A body line kicks up at the rear to the tapering roofline for a clean, smart profile that looks more Subaru than it does the daring and delightful Hyundai Tucson.

Slotting between the Kia Seltos small crossover and Kia Sorento three-row SUV, the Sportage’s biggest changes arrive in the form of a roomier interior. Here, it raises the ante on Hyundai’s origami exterior of the Tucson with an available panoramic glass display of 25 inches of screens across the dash. Framing the pane are angled vertical vents that focus attention on the cabin’s centerpiece. Below it, a thin panel of haptic climate controls flanked by temperature knobs completes the dash design. A gear lever and drive mode selector fill out the console, as well as a touchpad for climate control and infotainment settings that causes us some concern—at least until we try it out. 

At the North American debut, Kia showed off a larger base engine. A 2.5-liter inline-4 will make 187 hp, instead of 181 hp in the outgoing model. An 8-speed automatic replaces the sluggish 6-speed and promises more efficiency, but we’ll withhold impressions until we drive it.

A Kia Sportage Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter turbo-4 and 6-speed automatic transmission working with a single motor powered by a 1.49-kwh battery pack, same as the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. Kia states an output of 226 hp and towing capacity of 2,000 lb. Base LX versions come with front-wheel drive and a forecasted 39 mpg combined. Optional all-wheel drive comes standard on higher EX and SX-Prestige trims.

Kia plans a Sportage Plug-In Hybrid variant, but it hasn’t disclosed details yet. There’s also no indication if the 240-hp turbo-4 that powered the SX Turbo model will continue. 

Front-wheel drive comes standard, but all-wheel-drive models gain 1.5 inches of ground clearance over the old model, to 8.3 inches. 

The stealthy X-Line model gains an off-road counterpart in two new X-Pro trims. X-Line models get distinct bumpers and gloss-black side mirrors, roof rack, window surrounds, and 19-inch wheels. X-Pro adds a degree of capability to the X-Line’s appearance package, with BF Goodrich all-terrain tires wrapped on 17-inch black wheels, LED fog lights, a two-tone roof, and available cooled power front seats. The X-Pro comes standard with all-wheel drive and synthetic leather seats. 

The Sportage grows grows wider, taller, and 7.1 inches longer to 183.5 inches in length, taking it to nearly Volkswagen Tiguan proportions. The longer wheelbase opens up what were already spacious rear seats to larger SUV comfort with 41.3 inches of rear leg room. A tiered cargo floor carries up to 39.6 cubic feet of gear, which is more than even the Volkswagen Tiguan. 

Safety remains as big a priority as space in the new Sportage. Standard safety gear includes 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, navigation-based adaptive cruise control, limited hands-free driving on the highway, a surround-view camera system, a remote parking feature, and other driver-assist tech. Historically, the Sportage has earned top crash-test ratings from the NHTSA and the IIHS but the redesigned model has not yet been mangled in the name of safety. 

How much does the 2023 Kia Sportage cost?

Pricing will be announced before the on-sale date in the first quarter of 2022. The expanded lineup includes LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, and X-Line, as well as two new off-road packages in the X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige. The outgoing base LX costs a bit more than $25,000. 

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 wireless smartphone charging, a wi-fi hotspot, Harman Kardon sound, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen on all but the base LX. 

Where is the 2023 Kia Sportage made?

Most Sportages will be made in West Point, Georgia, alongside the Telluride, Sorento, and K5.


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