All-New Small Crossover Tackles Most Important Vehicle Segment
If Kia just had its best year in terms of total US sales, and if compact SUVs are now the largest vehicle segment in the US (by sales volume), you could say that the all-new Kia Sportage 2023 is a rather large vehicle. As Kia’s second-best seller in the United States last year, as well as the oldest nameplate in Kia’s model line, the automaker certainly recognizes the Sportage’s role in the current and future success of the model. brand.
This awareness is reflected in the 2023 Sportage, which benefits from an aggressive overhaul of its exterior styling, interior design and drivetrain technology, including the first-ever hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Kia Sportage. It is also the first Kia Sportage to be built in the United States, at the West Point, Georgia plant, in addition to Korea-based production.
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Sportage is that it’s significantly larger than the outgoing model. Overall length increased by 7.1 inches, with wheelbase increasing by 3.4 inches. The longer wheelbase means more interior volume, which Kia says translates to class-leading second-row legroom (41.3 inches) as well as a nice increase in cargo capacity. now also class leading at 39.6 cubic feet behind the second row.
Interior upgrades continue, in the form of a new Kia Connect user interface that replaces the old “UVO” system. A standard 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can be upgraded to a 12.3-inch “curved” display that seamlessly connects to a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster on the higher trim levels. The interior design and materials of the new Sportage, even in the base models, are attractive, while the top-of-the-line SX and X models give an upscale feel close to luxury with animal-free leather seats with heating and ventilation. .
The Sportage’s exterior design is meant to combine sharp, muscular surfaces contrasted by bold lines – Kia calls it “Opposites United”. It’s certainly bolder than the outgoing model, with Kia’s “tiger nose grille” flanked by standard LED headlights and boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. With so many compact SUVs on the road today, it’s not easy to stand out, but the Sportage should stand out on streets littered with small utility vehicles.
Another distinct feature of the small SUV category is true off-road capability, which is gaining popularity in the segment but remains relatively rare. New Sportage “X” versions introduced for 2023 add to the ute’s off-road pedigree, offering standard all-wheel drive and improved ground clearance, which increases from 7.1 to 8.3 inches in these AWD models. (front wheel drive is standard on other trims). The X Pro and X Pro Prestige models bolster the Sportage’s exploration powers with standard BFGoodrich all-terrain tires and retuned drive modes that take advantage of the increased grip.
We experienced the new hybrid and Pro X Prestige versions of the Sportage on the streets of Palm Springs and in the mountains above the desert oasis, including a dedicated off-road course where the Pro X could show off its powers while -ground. Climbing deep ruts, climbing aggressive grades and descending steep inclines didn’t slow the Sportage Pro X down, as its AWD system quickly assessed changing conditions while reallocating torque between each wheel to maintain momentum. We don’t know how often even the Pro X versions of the new Sportage will face these challenges, but Kia engineers have done their job to make sure they can.
On-road ride quality was equally impressive, with smooth, refined handling and minimal road noise, even in the tired Pro X models. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque in the standard Sportage, with throttle response that proved adequate, if not inspiring, along the mountain roads above. from Palm Springs. We won’t describe the Sportage as sluggish, but dynamically it’s not as engaging as class leaders like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
The same could be said of the hybrid model’s 1.6-liter turbo engine, which delivers a total of 227 horsepower and 258 pounds of torque with its synchronous electric motor lending a helping hand. The hybrid’s increased power is offset by a roughly 200-pound increase in overall weight, which translates to equally acceptable, rather than exciting, acceleration. Combined fuel economy for the standard Sportage is rated at 28 mpg for front-wheel-drive models or 25 mpg for all-wheel-drive versions. The hybrid bumps those numbers up to 43 mpg for the FWD LX or 38 mpg for the EX and SX-Prestige models (with standard AWD). The Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid boosts total output to 261bhp and will offer around 32 miles of all-electric range.
Buyers interested in the new 2023 Kia Sportage can already purchase an LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, X-Line, X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige model from their local dealership. Pricing starts at $27,245 for a base FWD LX model and goes up to $38,045 for an X-Pro Prestige AWD version. Hybrid and plug-in models will arrive in late June and start at $28,545 for an LX FWD and $37,445 for an SX-Prestige model (Plug-in Hybrid Sportage pricing has yet to be released). Although we’re craving a bit more horsepower, the new Sportage is an attractive SUV, both in design and capability and in features and value equation. We hope it will further contribute to Kia’s continued success in this category.