“Is that a Kia?” I heard that many times during my week-long test drive with the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid. It’s all new for 2023 and its aggressive, stylish looks sure turn heads. Plus the Sportage Hybrid boasts great fuel efficiency, a stylish and roomy cabin, and peppy performance, all at a competitive price.
Base Price: $36,190
As Tested: $38,155
Mileage: 38 mpg city/38 mpg highway/38 mpg combined
The Kia Sportage gets a makeover for the 2023 model year, including the addition of a hybrid model. Both the new traditional and hybrid Sportage models are poised to be popular offerings from the South Korean automaker. The Sportage Hybrid is the third hybrid from Kia, joining the larger Sorento Hybrid and smaller Niro Hybrid in the line-up.
The five-passenger 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid comes in three trims: LX, EX and SX-Prestige. Starting prices range from $27,290 to $36,190. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on the LX, and all-wheel drive is standard on the two higher trims.
There’s one powertrain: a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor that produce 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Hybrids don’t always have engaging performance. But the Sportage Hybrid is peppy and in fact is quicker than the traditional Sportage. Acceleration from a stop is pretty brisk and there’s plenty of oomph for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The six-speed always seems to find the right gear and paddle shifters on the steering wheel let you adjust shifting to your liking. Put it in Sport mode if you want quicker responses. The ride is smooth and quiet, steering is accurate, and the Sportage Hybrid feels stable when cornering with little body roll. The regenerative brakes have a normal feel without the squishiness of many. All in all, this is a pleasant daily driver.
When properly equipped, the Sportage Hybrid can tow up to 2,000 pounds.
The AWD models get an extra inch of ground clearance for a total of 8.3 inches. This means it can handle some light off-roading. The AWD system has locking differential and torque vectoring technology with snow mode and downhill descent control.
Fuel efficiency is excellent for the class. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 38 mpg city and 38 mpg highway with a combined rating of 38. I got 35 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is classy with a modern, clean design. Materials look and feel good, even on the base model. There are some hard plastics, but they are textured and look nice. The higher trims are downright luxurious with vegan synthetic leather upholstery. Seats are comfortable and supportive. There’s plenty of room for adults in both rows of seating with best-in-class passenger space including second-row legroom of 41.3 inches. And the rear seats slide and recline so passengers can really get comfy on long drives.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, 12.2-inch digital instrument cluster, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front USB-C port, automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Available features include push-button start, remote start, surround-view camera system, Synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, satellite radio, infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen, voice control, navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging, rear USB-C ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, universal garage door opener, multicolor LED interior lighting, and panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear parking sensors, and driver attention monitoring.
Available driver assistance technologies include stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, highway driving assist (partial autonomous driving on some highways), blind-spot monitoring (live video display of adjacent lanes displayed in digital instrument cluster), blind-spot view monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic emergency braking, intersection turning detection (detects traffic when the vehicle makes a left turn at an intersection and will apply brakes as needed), front parking sensors, remote parking assist (you can park or exit a parking spot using the key fob), and safe exit warning.
The infotainment system in the base LX model has one eight-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The infotainment system in my top-of-the-line SX Prestige model has two 12.3-inch driver info and infotainment screens that look as if they’re one huge screen. This is similar to what you’ll find in a Mercedes-Benz. However, with this set up, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are wired. Both systems have crisp graphics and respond quickly to inputs. One peeve is that you have to switch screens for audio and climate adjustments, and the physical knobs change functions based on the visible screen. This can make it cumbersome to make quick audio or climate adjustments if you’re not on the right screen.
Cargo space in the Sportage Hybrid is best in class. There are 39.5 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 73.7 cubes with the rear seats folded. A hands-free power liftgate is available.
The Sportage Hybrid has Kia’s excellent warranty with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Modern, aggressive looks
Extremely roomy interior
Lots of standard and available features and tech
Excellent fuel efficiency
Few options available on base trim
My tester starts at $36,190. Shadow Matte Gray paint is $595. Carpeted floor mats are $155. Destination fee is $1,215 bringing the grand total to $38,155.
The new 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid looks fierce, not like a cookie cutter crossover. Its upscale and roomy cabin, features and tech, perky performance, excellent fuel economy, and competitive price definitely make it worth considering if you’re shopping for a compact hybrid SUV.