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Review QuickTakes:

A compact crossover SUV with five-passenger seating, the 2023 Kia Sportage is available with gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains combined with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Maximum cargo space measures 39.6 cu. ft. behind the back seat and 74.1 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded down, and the 2023 Sportage supplies up to 8.3 inches of ground clearance and 2,500 pounds of towing capacity. Kia says the Sportage Hybrid returns up to 39 mpg in combined driving.

What’s New for the 2023 Kia Sportage?

This year, Kia completely redesigns the Sportage. It is larger than before, more capable off-road, and available with new hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrains. In addition, the in-cabin technology gets a significant upgrade, and Kia adds more driver assistance and collision avoidance technology to the SUV.

How Much Will the Kia Sportage Cost?

At the start of the model year, the 2023 Kia Sportage price range is from the mid $20,000s to the high $30,000s, including the destination charge. However, when the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models arrive later in the year, the pricing range will undoubtedly expand into the mid $40,000s.

2023 Kia Sportage Trim Levels and Configurations

The gas and gas-electric hybrid versions of the new Kia Sportage share some trim-level designations. There are seven gas models and three hybrid models. In addition, the Sportage PHEV comes in two separate, well-equipped trim levels. Highlights are as follows:

  • Kia Sportage LX — Available with gas and hybrid powertrains, the Sportage LX features alloy wheels, dark-tinted rear privacy glass, cloth seats with a height-adjustable driver’s seat, digital instrumentation, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and several driver assistance and collision avoidance systems in the standard Kia Drive Wise package

  • Kia Sportage EX — Gas and hybrid powertrains are available with EX trim. This version of the SUV includes larger alloy wheels, simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats with a power driver’s seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Tech upgrades include remote engine starting, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and Kia Connect services, a blind-spot monitoring system, and rear cross-traffic alert

  • Kia Sportage X-Line — The Sportage X-Line comes only with a gas engine and has a standard all-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential. In addition, the X-Line has more rugged styling details, a unique wheel design, increased ground clearance, and roof rails. Other features include a hands-free power liftgate and wireless smartphone charging

  • Kia Sportage SX — The SX trim builds on the EX with matte-gray wheels, a panoramic glass sunroof, and a hands-free power liftgate. The SX also contains an upgraded instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charging, a Harman Kardon premium sound system, and an intersection collision avoidance system. Adaptive cruise control is also standard, along with Highway Driving Assist, which pairs the adaptive cruise with a lane-centering assistance function. This version of the SUV comes only with a gas engine

  • Kia Sportage SX Prestige — You can get the SX Prestige with a gas or hybrid drivetrain. In addition to SX equipment, the primary highlights are a power-adjustable front passenger’s seat, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. This trim also adds camera-based blind-spot and surround-view monitors, front and rear parking sensors, and an automatic reverse braking system

  • Kia Sportage X-Pro — The X-Pro trim is based on the Sportage X-Line but includes SX equipment. Exclusive features include multi-terrain driving modes and all-terrain tires. The X-Pro comes only with a gas engine

  • Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige — Choose X-Pro Prestige, and the Sportage has SX Prestige features combined with X Pro equipment

  • Kia Sportage X-Line PHEV — Based on the Sportage X-Line, the X-Line PHEV has a plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain that supplies an estimated 32 miles of electric driving before reverting to gas-electric hybrid operation. As a result, it has slightly less cargo space than other Sportage models

  • Kia Sportage X-Line Prestige PHEV — Select the X-Line Prestige for a combination of SX and SX Prestige features. Highlights include upgraded instrumentation, a Harman Kardon premium sound system, and camera-based blind-spot and surround-view monitors. This version of the Sportage PHEV also has intersection collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, Highway Driving Assist, and rear automatic emergency braking. In addition, a basic Remote Smart Parking Assist system allows the driver to stand outside of the Sportage and remotely pull it into and out of tight spaces in a straight line

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

2023 Kia Sportage Review and Test Drive

Despite its name, the compact crossover utility (CUV) class is the largest segment in the U.S. market. There are more than a dozen models to choose from and with wide-ranging characteristics related to dynamics, power, styling, utility—you name it. With this fifth-generation redesign, the 2023 Kia Sportage is no longer the runt of this compact CUV litter. The latest version of Kia’s longest-running nameplate is not to be outdone in capability, safety, and technology. It also gains premium-level firsts for the Sportage lineup and the automaker as a whole.

For all of these steps forward, there is a small step back. Kia is not renewing the previous Sportage SX Turbo model, which was plenty of fun to drive. However, electrified variants in the form of a hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) keep the Sportage family growing. The off-road inspired X-Line and X-Pro trim levels are also new, the latter legitimately tuned and equipped for off-the-pavement adventures.

Additionally, the South Korean automaker has changed the Sportage’s positioning within the greater Kia lineup. Following the arrival of the Kia Seltos subcompact crossover for the 2021 model year, the new 2023 Sportage moves up in size, price, and features to comfortably settle between the smaller Seltos and larger Sorento. In addition, and for the first time in its history, Kia will build the Sportage in the U.S. at the automaker’s manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. (Kia will produce the Hybrid and PHEV models in South Korea.)

So, is the new Sportage worth consideration? To find out, I accepted an invitation from Kia to drive the SUV in Palm Springs, California. For this 2023 Kia Sportage review, I spent a day behind the steering wheels of a Sportage X-Pro Prestige and a Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige, each equipped with standard all-wheel-drive (AWD). Kia provided the test vehicles for this Sportage review and paid for airfare, lodging, and meals during the evaluation period.

The base price of a Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD starts at $38,005 (including a $1,215 destination charge). My test vehicle featured a couple of extras, including an optional two-tone paint job for $395 (Jungle Green exterior with black rooftop) and carpeted floor mats for $155. The final Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) totaled $38,555.

The Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige AWD starts at $37,405 (including the destination fee). My hybrid test car had premium Shadow Matte Gray paint ($595) and carpeted floor mats ($155), bringing the price to $38,155 (including the destination fee).

2023 Kia Sportage Review: The Design

The Kia Sportage sports a distinctly different look for 2023. Sleeker, leaner, and more athletic, the all-new Sportage sheds its formerly frumpy vibe for the boxier build found across the Kia CUV lineup. For example, Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille is less snout and more snarl on the new Sportage. The updated black grille stretches across the vehicle’s front fascia, buttressed by distinctive, boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights that are standard across the Sportage lineup.

From the rear, the Sportage still appears to be slightly egg-shaped. This is partly attributable to the rising beltline of the C-pillar, which creates a chunky look to the rear fenders and increases the visual real estate of the liftgate. The taillights are also stacked rather than shaped in the previous model’s thin, wraparound style, further adding a sense of “tallness” in the Sportage’s rear three-quarter view. With the X-Pro model, the rear bumper features added black cladding for extra AWD appeal. Kia’s newly designed logo and updated font finish up the Sportage’s new exterior snazziness.

The 2023 Sportage is larger than its predecessor, but its overall look is decidedly rugged instead of bloated. Its wheelbase is 3.4 inches longer to measure 108.5 inches, and the vehicle’s total length now stretches to 183.5 inches—an increase of 7.1 inches. The Sportage is also 0.4 inches wider and experiences a height growth spurt of up to 1.3 inches.

But the new-year-new-me Sportage didn’t chug creatine drinks simply for muscle gains. There is a method to this mass-ness. Thanks to its larger size, the Sportage boasts best-in-class spaciousness, says Kia. Headroom sees incremental gains while legroom is nearly equal for all seating positions, with 41.4 inches in the front and 41.3 inches in the rear. Although front-seat occupants lost a barely noticeable 0.1 inches of legroom, those sitting in the back now enjoy 3.1 additional inches of leg stretching.

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

The Kia Sportage also leads the way in cargo capacity. Equipped with a new dual-level cargo floor, the Sportage offers up to 39.6 cu.ft. of storage behind the second-row seats against the previous model’s 30.7 cu. ft. That’s a 29 percent increase! Moreover, with the rear seats folded down, cargo capacity grows to 74.1 cu. ft., nearly as much as the larger Kia Sorento. The previous-generation Sportage offered what now feels like a miserly 60.1 cu. ft.

Strictly on design, the Sportage’s cabin is clean and premium. Yes, there are markedly fewer buttons and knobs, but the remaining ones serve double duty concerning controls and functions. Switchgear is within reach and doesn’t feel cheap to the touch. The Sportage is also available with various cabin materials, like wood and metal. These, of course, provide a different ambiance and generally match the designated trim level.

Overall ergonomics are excellent, and the premium SynTex synthetic leather of the X-Pro trim provided softness to frequent touchpoints like armrests. Note that you won’t find genuine cowhide in any Sportage vehicle. The base LX model comes with cloth seats, while SynTex is used for the rest of the Sportage lineup.

The seats themselves are well-bolstered and provide ample lumbar and back support. But the cushioning of the front-seat bottoms was less than satisfactory to me, feeling like a flat, dead space. There was little comfort to be had, which was surprising given how snug and soft the rest of the seat was. This was one of the few disappointments I had with the new Sportage.

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

2023 Kia Sportage Review: The Technology

The Kia Sportage is beyond impressive when it comes to infotainment technology and safety features. The CUV debuts an all-new, 24.6-inch panoramic curved display that’s standard equipment starting on the Sportage SX trim.

The display is actually two 12.3-inch screens seamlessly combined into one. The first is a digital instrument cluster, and the second is an infotainment touchscreen. In keeping with the high-end allure, a touch-sensing panel with two control knobs underlines the curved display in place of traditional dashboard buttons. Switching between the settings for audio, climate control, and other menus proved intuitive and easy to use, even while driving.

Although this level of in-car tech is not new, it’s also not readily found in this class of vehicles, let alone from a mass-market brand. Such highly-responsive, customizable, high-end digital displays are typically available from luxury automakers in luxury-priced cars. They used to be, anyway.

Even in the base Sportage LX, you won’t find basic tech. The standard instrument cluster is 12.2-inches wide with an embedded 4.2-inch driver information display. You also get an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, voice recognition, and a Bluetooth system that simultaneously pairs two devices.

Vehicles equipped with the 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system add navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, and upgraded telematics. For additional connected convenience, wireless device charging, front and rear USB-C charging ports, a premium Harman Kardon sound system, wireless smartphone connectivity, and the all-new Kia Connect system are available.

Replacing Kia UVO Link, Kia Connect is a connected services technology offering a Sportage-first Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices, over-the-air map updates, cloud-based navigation and traffic updates, artificial intelligence learning, Amazon Alexa and Google Assist integration, and a slew of remote services accessible via the updated Kia Access App.

Kia is also no slouch concerning safety. In a recent announcement, eight of the automaker’s vehicles earned accolades from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Because the 2023 Kia Sportage is new to the market, neither the IIHS nor the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided crash-test results. But the new Sportage is likely to repeat the previous-generation model’s favorable scores or improve upon them.

As for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), the new Sportage includes automatic high-beam headlights, a driver monitoring system, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-centering assist, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. In addition, available upgrades include a navigation-based adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go capability, blind-spot monitoring with active collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, and front parking sensors.

Newly available safety features on the 2023 Sportage are a 360-degree surround-view camera, which the driver can toggle via the touchscreen to focus on specific vehicle surroundings. Kia also offers its camera-based blind-spot view monitor system, which activates when using the turn signal. It projects a live video of the blind spots within the instrument cluster.

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

2023 Kia Sportage Review: The Drive

The Kia Sportage features new powertrains for each of its three variants. The standard Sportage has a 2.5L four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, with all-wheel drive (AWD) an option. Compared to the previous-gen Sportage, the increase in power is slight, bumping up to 187 hP (+6) and 178 lb.-ft. of torque (+3). However, the Sportage’s fuel economy ratings improved by 8 percent despite the vehicle’s increased size and heft, ranging from 25 mpg (AWD) to 28 mpg (FWD) in combined driving.

The Sportage Hybrid improves power and efficiency by combining a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a 44-kW electric motor and a high-output 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery. A six-speed automatic puts 227 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque to the ground, but don’t let the increased power fool you. The Sportage Hybrid also gains quite a bit on the standard Sportage in fuel economy, with ratings of 38 mpg (AWD) to 43 mpg (FWD) in combined driving.

The Sportage PHEV utilizes the hybrid’s 1.6L turbo-four and six-speed automatic but with a 66.9-kW electric motor and 13.8-kWh lithium-polymer battery. Kia estimates the PHEV to produce 261 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Because the Sportage PHEV won’t arrive until the end of the year, official EPA fuel economy ratings aren’t available as this review is written. However, Kia targets 32 miles of electric-only range, and the Sportage PHEV should come close to matching the standard hybrid’s efficiency numbers.

What is on sale now are the gas-powered and hybrid Sportage models. And they couldn’t be more different when it comes to performance, handling, and dynamics.

The all-new Sportage X-Line looks the part of an outdoor adventurer thanks to standard roof rails, gloss-black 19-inch wheels and detailing, and a Snow drive mode added to the standard Normal, Sport, and Smart settings. But the equally-new Sportage X-Pro is, suffice to say, the purpose-built Sportage. In a Kia first, the X-Pro comes with standard B.F. Goodrich all-terrain tires wrapped around its 17-inch alloy wheels. Also, its drive modes are specifically tuned for off-road adventures, which the X-Pro handles with both confidence and refinement.

Like everything else about the new Sportage, ground clearance improves. The outgoing model offered no more than 6.8 inches with AWD. With the new 2023 Sportage, those figures are 7.1 inches (FWD) and 8.3 inches (AWD). And although the Sportage is longer, its overhangs are shorter, which means it provides better approach and departure angles.

On an off-road course a Jeep Wrangler or Land Rover Discovery would chew up and spit out, but small suburbia-loving crossovers would get weak-kneed just looking at, the Sportage X-Pro Prestige managed the technical juts, ruts, inclines, and declines with surgical precision. Heck, for a second, you’d think you were in a tried-and-true Subaru Forester and not a trail-happy noob like the Sportage.

The slopes were not gentle, the crests and corners were blind, and the trenches were deep enough to keep your speed low. But with the drive mode set to Normal, the X-Pro Prestige clawed and gripped its way along the 20-degree climbs, 36-degree descents, and 23-degree side slopes. On soft patches of dirt that might give less capable vehicles unwanted drama, the Sportage X-Pro traipsed along like it was no big deal.

The big deal, though, happens when you’re on the road. Those all-terrain tires create all-pavement noise. The quiet-looking cabin is hardly that, especially when traveling at higher speeds through the city or on a highway. Although you won’t be shouting during your conversations, the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) are unpleasant. Also, the Sportage X-Pro’s driving manners reflected its higher ground clearance. The vehicle rode high and suffered from plenty of unwanted body roll. Put another way, Kia tunes the Sportage X-Pro for carving through canyons but not canyon carving. Worse, the engine’s power delivery falls flat, dropping revs when you want more throttle. And the steering feel is as numb and disconnected as an awkward chat with an ex.

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

On the other hand, a drive in a Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige offered smoother gearing and power. With a lower ground clearance, added weight due to the battery pack, and an all-season 18-inch wheel-and-tire package, the hybrid was more sure-footed while cornering and quieter on any road. Body roll was still there, but mitigated to be less of a concern. The hybrid was also equipped with paddle shifters, while the X-Pro was not. But steering feel was still equivalent to a wet noodle. Sigh. Nevertheless, for the most part, the driving experience was night and day between the top-of-the-line Sportage and Sportage Hybrid models.

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

Is the 2023 Kia Sportage a Good SUV?

To say the all-new Kia Sportage is a substantial improvement over the outgoing model would be inaccurate. That’s because the previous Sportage was already a strong compact crossover contender. What it lacked in size versus its competitors, it made up for in amenities, dependability, quality, and value. This next-generation Sportage merely builds on that reputation by adding more capability, technology, utility, and style. And with the addition of electrified offerings of the hybrid and PHEV, the Kia Sportage makes a stronger case for itself than ever.

What is the Gas Mileage for the 2023 Kia Sportage?

According to official EPA fuel economy ratings, the gas-engine Sportage models will get between 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The Sportage AWD is less efficient than the front-drive versions of the SUV. In combined driving, the ratings are 25 mpg with AWD and 28 mpg with FWD.

The new 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid will be far more efficient and enjoyable to drive. It uses a turbocharged gas-electric hybrid powertrain making 226 hp, and Kia claims it will return as much as 39 mpg with FWD.

In PHEV specification, the Sportage plug-in hybrid builds on the standard hybrid powertrain with a larger battery supplying an estimated 32 miles of electric driving range before reverting to gas-electric hybrid operation.

Kia Sportage Competitors for 2023

Kia has dramatically increased the Sportage’s size for 2023, making it one of the largest models in the compact crossover SUV segment. In fact, it’s nearly as big as a Kia Sorento. Primary rivals include the similarly accommodating Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Volkswagen Tiguan. Among them, only Hyundai and Toyota offer gas, hybrid, and PHEV powertrains.

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

Kia Sportage Features


While some people might not like the new Sportage’s front styling and boomerang-style running lights, there is no denying that this is an appealing choice in its segment. Whether you need a grocery-getter or mild off-roader, or you want an electrified powertrain, there is something in the Sportage lineup for most compact crossover SUV shoppers.

2023 Kia Sportage Safety Features

  • Rear Occupant Alert — Standard ultrasonic sensors can detect movement in the SUV after the driver leaves the vehicle, alerting passersby and the Sportage’s owner that a child or pet may be locked inside
  • Lane Following Assist — Standard feature enhances the lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist system with a lane-centering function
  • Highway Driving Assist — Available* hands-on highway driving aid combining adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance
  • Blind-Spot View Monitor — Available* camera-based blind-spot monitoring system; does not replace the radar-based blind-spot monitor technology
  • Junction Turning Detection — Available feature* that can help to avoid collisions at intersections

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

2023 Kia Sportage Technology

  • Leading Vehicle Departure Alert — Standard feature that alerts the driver when traffic ahead starts to move
  • Infotainment system — Standard 8-inch and available 12.3-inch touchscreen display
  • Smartphone integration — Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Kia Connect — Available* connected services package including access to a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Dual Panoramic Displays — Available* digital instrumentation and infotainment displays under a single piece of glass

2023 Kia Sportage Specs

  • 2.5L four-cylinder engine, 187 hp, 178 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 1.6L four-cylinder turbocharged engine, 44 kW electric motor, 1.49 kWh battery, 226 hp (Hybrid)
  • 1.6L four-cylinder turbo engine, 66.9 kW electric motor, 13.8 kWh battery, 32 miles of electric driving range before reverting to gas-electric hybrid operation (PHEV)
  • 8-speed automatic transmission (gas); 6-speed automatic (hybrid and PHEV)
  • Front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD)

2023 Kia SportageBeverly Braga

2023 Kia Sportage Interior

  • SynTex — Available* synthetic leather upholstery
  • Heated and ventilated front seats — Available feature*
  • Heated steering wheel — Available feature*
  • Panoramic sunroof — Available feature*
  • Premium sound system — Available* eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system

*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections

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author photo
Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.
author photo
Beverly Braga
Beverly Braga is a freelance writer and consultant with nearly 20 years of experience as a storyteller and communications professional. Her work has appeared in numerous print and digital outlets covering the automotive, entertainment, lifestyle, as well as food and beverage industries.

Sportage Features

  • Seats
    • Pass-Through Rear Seat
    • Bucket Seats
    • Heated Front Seat(s)
    • Rear Bench Seat