Class: Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 159
Fuel used: 4.7 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
|1.6L 4-cylinder turbo charged Hybrid
Real-world fuel economy: 33.8 mpg
Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 38/38/38 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $30,990 (not including $1215 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: EX Premium Package ($1500), carpeted floor mats ($150)
Price as tested: $33,860
The great: Peppy hybrid powertrain, excellent fuel economy, extraordinary dollar value
The good: Roomy and functional cabin, refined ride and handling
The not so good: Avant-garde styling not for everyone
A complete redesign for 2023 brings the Kia Sportage its first-ever hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains. We tested a mid-line Hybrid EX model equipped with the EX Premium Package. I was charmed by its pleasant driving demeanor, peppy 226-hp gas/electric powertrain, and generous level of standard equipment. I can’t say I’m completely comfortable with the exterior styling—I’m a little weirded out by front ends in which the headlights are overpowered by the daytime running lights and other design elements—but I think the Sportage’s looks are growing on me.
And, the Sportage’s interior is excellent—in keeping with the unconventional exterior, it’s got funky design touches such as the unusually shaped door pulls and HVAC vents, but I found the control layout to be ergonomically agreeable overall. I also liked the slim strip of touch-sensitive virtual buttons that toggles between audio and climate controls at the touch of a button. Both passenger room and cargo space are impressive for the Sportage’s relatively tidy exterior dimensions—I had better legroom in the Sportage’s rear seats than I did in the Lexus LX 600’s. The “SynTex” faux-leather upholstery had a respectably upscale look and feel, and the ambiance was further enhanced by the standard fully digital gauge cluster, 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated front seats. I’ve driven many mainstream-brand compact SUVs in the past couple years that approached (or even surpassed) the $40K mark, so this Sportage’s bottom-line sticker price of $33,860 struck me as an especially good deal.
Now that Kia has a hybrid version of its Sportage compact SUV, how does it behave? The gas/electric powerplant provides effectively perky acceleration around town. It also cruises the highway easily—but somewhat loudly. Responsiveness of the 6-speed automatic transmission is pretty good. This driver recorded 33.97 mpg after putting 94 miles—with 31 percent in city-type operation—on the test vehicle.
In terms of on-road dynamics, the ’23 Sportage handles easily, with a little lean in corners, and it rides comfortably. However, braking suffers from a little bit of the sluggishness that often afflicts hybrids as they capture energy for battery regeneration during stops.
Passengers will find the larger, new-generation vehicle very roomy in both seating rows. There’s impressive rear legroom and good headroom even under the sunroof when so equipped. Rear seats have some backrest adjustment.
The Sportage’s new dimensions also have an impact on the cargo area. It’s spacious and accessible through a wide tailgate opening. The 60/40-split seats fold almost flat. Under the floor there’s some unprotected bonus space around the spare tire, but there are a couple cubbies for incidentals in the far corners down there.
As for surroundings, the EX comes with perforated SynTex upholstery that has a nice look and feel. Soft surfaces adorn the upper dash, armrests, door centers, and tops of the front doors. Unified screens for driving control and infotainment have a cutting-edge high-tech look but there’s nothing daunting about them. Audio inputs are easy to make on the touchscreen. Climate controls exist on a separate touchscreen but with handy physical knobs for temperature selection.
Cabin storage is just all right. There’s a decently sized glove box but the console box is small; front-door pockets are modest and rear pockets are barely bottle holders; pouches are found behind both front seats; and bag hooks sprout from the front seats. Cup holders are provided in the console and pull-down center armrest.
All in all, the 2023 Sportage EX hybrid seems like a good value for the price.
Kia Sportage Hybrid EX Gallery
Click below for enlarged images.