Kia has been making remarkable strides in design, technology, and quality over the past few years, but what keeps attracting buyers is that it has done so at an affordable price point. Remembering who your target market is remains critical, and Kia seems to land the hammer on the head of the nail every time. Its latest offering is the just-revealed Kia Sportage, and although we had to wait and sit through a few pointless teasers after it was revealed to the rest of the world earlier this year, we have no complaints after browsing through its features. Now, however, it's time to get really stuck in and see if the new crossover is just a design statement or something more.
See trim levels and configurations:
Kia's new design philosophy is called "Opposites United." The front of the vehicle is certain to grab your attention though, boasting a large, detailed, gloss black grille that stretches from headlight to headlight. Above this is a new interpretation of the Tiger nose grille with a contrasting silver graphic, while the headlights are split and feature a "boomerang" daytime running light on each side. This points to a subtle crease in the lower bumper, which helps frame a large lower grille with integrated fog lights. The angular fenders add more visual width and a touch of sportiness, while the roof rails point to practicality. At the rear, high-mounted taillights are joined by a gloss black strip that ties into the subtle roof spoiler and additional gloss black detailing for the rocker panels and lower rear bumper. That bumper houses a faux diffuser, while the profile shows off intricate new alloy wheels. 17-inch matte black off-road wheels are also available. X-Line, X-Pro, and X-Pro Prestige models have an extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance. The former adds some styling upgrades and unique 19-inch wheels, while the latter are more rugged with BF Goodrich all-terrain tires around 17-inch wheels
Kia has developed a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is more powerful and more efficient than the outgoing engine, or at least that's the goal. Kia says that the engine is expected to produce 187 horsepower, which isn't exactly groundbreaking, but families don't buy vehicles like these to go drag racing, do they? They're looking for a quiet ride and good gas mileage, and Kia is predicting an 8% better result from the EPA consumption tests. A promised hybrid model is on the way too.
Power goes to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic, or you can have AWD with 1.5 inches more ground clearance than the old Sportage AWD. If you want a vehicle with AWD as standard, you may be interested in the X-Line and X-Pro trims. These include, a heated windshield and wiper nozzle, and various drive modes like Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow.
Kia has clearly spent a lot of time focusing on what is necessary to make a cabin ergonomic to use. The center console features an array of buttons and a single knob in a touchpad for accessing media, along with connections for your smartphone and a pair of generously-sized removable cupholders. Raise your gaze, and the dash gets a clean climate control panel with knobs for temperature, above which sits a pair of curved screens connected as one. These 12.3-inch displays handle driver info and the infotainment system, which boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard across the range. That touchpad we mentioned at the outset allows you to change what the carious knobs in the car control, whether that is volume to the available Harman Kardon premium audio system or something else.
Other available features include a WiFi hotspot, a 360-degree surround-view camera, ventilated front seats, and various safety enhancements, but more on those later.
On the X-Line and X-Pro trims, both come with "a unique tread-like stitching pattern on unique and easy-to-clean SynTex synthetic leather seats."
Practicality-wise, a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase means 41.3 inches of rear legroom, while standard cargo capacity measures 39.6 cubic feet.
As standard, the 2023 Sportage boasts driver attention warning, LED headlights with automatic high beams, lane following and lane keeping assists, forward collision avoidance, rear occupant alert, a rearview camera with dynamic parking guidance, and rear parking sensors. Optionally available are enhancements like blind-spot monitoring with collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic assist, front cross-traffic alert, front parking sensors, highway driving assist, intelligent speed limit assist, navigation-based smart cruise control, reverse collision assist, vehicle exit warning, and radar-based adaptive cruise control with stop & go.
On the X-Pro trim, you also get ventilated front seats, LED fog lights, the option of LED projector headlights, and an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat. Real-time navigation updates, wireless charging, and a surround-view camera are also offered. Both the Bluetooth system and the WiFi hotspot add further value by gaining the ability to connect to multiple devices at once.
Kia has not yet revealed the base MSRP of the all-new 2023 Sportage, but the 2022 model (which was based on an even older version) started at just over $24,000 with the top trim carrying a starting price of $33,750. We expect Kia to raise pricing slightly, but not by very much, since the Sportage has its own family to contend with in the 187-hp Hyundai Tucson that starts at $25,350. The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is another rival to look out for, starting at $27,190 for the base model and $37,790 for the top trim. That car makes 184 hp, so perhaps the Sportage is just right. We'll know for sure when we drive it following its local release in the first quarter of 2022.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Kia Sportage: