You can't go wrong with Kia's efficient, family-friendly SUV.
The Kia Sportage is not only one of the brand's best-selling models in the US but also its longest-running nameplate. The 2023 model arrives with bolder styling and it's undergone quite a growth spurt as well, being over seven inches longer than the previous model. Now, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid and Kia Sportage Plug-In Hybrid - the first Sportage PHEV ever - have joined the party. They will offer shoppers in this segment a particularly efficient option and an alternative to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime PHEV models. The Sportage Hybrid is also more powerful than the gas-only model revealed previously. As far as sensible purchases go, the Sportage Hybrid ranks highly.
While the 2023 Sportage Hybrid has a release date set for early 2022, the Sportage Plug-In Hybrid arrival date has only been set for the third quarter of 2022.
Kia hasn't yet announced pricing for the 2023 Sportage Hybrid or Sportage PHEV. It's our expectation that the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid price will begin at around $27,000 and that the PHEV should cost about $35,000.
There are a couple of strong competitors in this segment. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson shares a lot with the Sportage but has its own aggressive styling, and starts at $29,350 in hybrid form or $34,900 for the PHEV. A more conservative but utterly safe bet is the Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 Hybrid begins at $29,075 and the powerful RAV4 Prime starts at a pricier $39,800 in the USA.
By now, we're used to Kia churning out boldly styled SUVs. But perhaps what's most impressive when comparing the new Kia Sportage Hybrid exterior to the brand's other SUVs is that none of them look the same. Yes, elements like the Tiger nose grille are shared, yet the Sportage has an identity of its own with those boomerang daytime running lights, angular fenders, and crisp shoulder line. Special hybrid badging and unique 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels set apart the hybrid from its gas-only sibling. At the back, there are "notch-shaped" taillights connected by a slim black graphic. The PHEV differs by getting 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, and gloss black wing mirrors as standard as part of its more extensive X-Line trim.
Kia Sportage Hybrid colors aren't known at this stage, but it looks pleasing in the darker blue and gray hues it's been pictured in.
The new Kia logo has grown in size, as has the entire vehicle. The Sportage is 7.1 inches longer than the previous model and its wheelbase length has increased by 3.4 inches. Those Kia Sportage Hybrid dimensions are greater than many other rivals in this class and as we'll see lower down, this has resulted in an even more spacious cabin.
The new Kia Sportage Hybrid SUV is 183.5 inches in length, 73.4 inches in width, up to 66.3 inches in height (with AWD and roof rails), and has a 108.5-inch wheelbase. The PHEV is even taller at 66.9 inches. Whereas the Hybrid weighs between 3,532 and 3,896 pounds, the PHEV comes in as high as 4,270 lbs.
In both cases, the Kia Sportage Hybrid engine is a 1.6-liter turbo. The conventionally-powered Sportage is a bit disappointing with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing just 187 horsepower. However, the Sportage Hybrid generates a stronger targeted output of 226 hp thanks to a 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI engine and a 44-kW permanent magnet electric motor. A 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard.
On the base trim, the Sportage Hybrid directs its power to the front wheels exclusively, although all-wheel drive is offered on this model. The upper two trims get an active AWD system as standard. For the FWD model, Kia claims a targeted 39 mpg and a range of over 500 miles. That's nearly identical gas mileage to what's achieved by the similarly powerful Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Paddle shifters are standard in the Kia and drivers can choose between ECO, Sport, Smart, and Snow modes. If you need to tow anything, the Sportage Hybrid has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. Based on independent tests of the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid with the same powertrain, the Sportage Hybrid should be able to complete the 0-60 mph run in about seven seconds.
The Kia Sportage PHEV pairs a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 177 hp with a 66.9-kW electric motor and a 13.8 kWh lithium-polymer battery. It also uses a six-speed automatic transmission, but unlike the Hybrid, all PHEVs are AWD.
For the Sportage Hybrid, Kia claims a targeted 39 mpg and a range exceeding 500 miles. That's competitive with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The heavier Sportage PHEV uses a 7.2-kW onboard charger that can fully recharge the battery in around two hours with Level 2 charging. Official EPA figures have yet to be revealed for either model, but Kia says that the PHEV's all-electric range works out to 32 miles. That's enough to get some people to work and back without using the engine at all.
Kia has struck a good balance between style and practicality inside the new Sportage Hybrid. Apparently inspired by high-end furniture and modern architecture, the Kia Sportage Hybrid interior certainly looks the part, especially when equipped with the available dual panoramic curved display that spans nearly 25 inches. This consists of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment duties.
For the driver, controls are within easy reach thanks to an asymmetrical console. The new touchpad below the infotainment screen is a nice touch, combining both climate and audio controls in a compact strip. All models get wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, rear parking sensors, and lane following assist.
For the first time on the Sportage, a 360-degree surround-view monitor with 3D view is available. Advanced Kia Connect services that are available include over-the-air updates and a WiFi hotspot. On upper trims, the Kia Sportage Hybrid has seats upholstered in animal-free leather which creates a suitably luxurious environment. Once again, the PHEV is slightly better equipped as it comes with a ten-way power driver's seat as standard.
The cabin is more spacious than ever before. Along with a generous 41.3 inches of legroom in the second row, the trunk space of the Kia Sportage Hybrid has grown to 39.5 cubic feet. Those are excellent specs for a vehicle in this segment. The PHEV isn't far behind with 34.5 cubes of cargo space.
We mentioned a few standard safety features already, but the Kia Sportage Hybrid and Sportage PHEV can be equipped with a spread of driver-assistance features that were the preserve of high-end luxury models just a few years ago. The blind-spot collision avoidance system includes parallel exit, the first application in a Kia. It can help avoid a collision when exiting a parallel parking spot. The SUV can also be equipped with highway driving assistance which works with navigation assistance and maintains a specific speed under certain conditions. Safe exit warning, remote parking collision avoidance, forward parking distance warning, smart cruise control with a curve function, and a blind-spot view monitor are all also on offer.