When it comes to battery power, this is a big year for Kia. After rolling out the new, all-electric EV6, the automaker today pulled the wraps off a plug-in hybrid version of its most popular model, the Sportage SUV.
Set to reach showrooms later this year, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV will deliver up to 32 miles in all-electric mode. The new model will be produced at the automaker’s plant in West Point, Georgia.
“The first Sportage PHEV to be introduced in the U.S. demonstrates that Kia is listening to our consumers who are asking for electrified solutions and super-efficient powertrains,” said Sean Yoon, CEO, Kia North America. “Sportage delivers on that promise in a sophisticated, refined package.”
A third powertrain option
The debut of the PHEV comes just months after we got a first look at the fifth-generation Sportage line. The longest-running nameplate offered by the Kia brand, the 2023 model features a tauter, more sporty look than the outgoing model, with a broader “Tiger Nose” grille and new boomerang-shaped running lights. It also picks up some of the design cues found in the South Korean carmaker’s new EV6 battery-electric vehicle, notably the rear liftgate.
It also shifts to the same N3 platform as the bigger Sorento, and grows a full 7.1 inches in overall length, even though the wheelbase has been stretched just 3.4 inches. Kia claims Sportage now offers segment-leading rear cargo space and best-in-class rear cargo capacity of 39.6 cubic feet. The 2023 Sportage also adopts a dual-level rear cargo floor.
The original 2023 model is offered in two versions. A gas-only model features a 187-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4, while a hybrid package uses a 1.6-liter gas engine and a 44-kilowatt electric motor drawing power from a 1.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.
More power, more range
The PHEV upgrades the hybrid driveline. The 1.6-liter gas engine makes the same, 177 horsepower but the electric motor is upgraded to 66.9-kW. It sends power through a 6-speed automatic to all four wheels.
The plug-in draws power from a 13.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery that, Kia estimates, will yield up to 32 miles in all-electric mode per charge. The EPA has yet to issue final range numbers, however.
As with pretty much all electrified vehicles, the Sportage PHEV uses regenerative braking to recapture energy lost during slowing or coasting and that will yield different range and fuel economy numbers depending upon driving conditions and driver behavior.
The battery pack, according to Kia, will be able to fully recharge in about two hours when connected to a Level 2 240-volt charger. The SUV comes with a 7.2-kW onboard charging system.
There will be a number of modest design tweaks when compared to the earlier versions of the 2023 Sportage. That includes unique bumpers with satin chrome trim, gloss black side mirrors and other exterior trim, and 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels. LED head and taillights will be standard on the PHEV.
Inside, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard equipment. Options include a 360-degree Surround-View Monitor and a dual panoramic curved display with twin 12.3-inch digital displays. Also on the option list: the Kia Connect subscription service which adds a WiFi hotspot and allows the use of a smartphone to connect to the PHEV. Among other things, that allows a motorist to remotely control charging.
Two versions of the Sportage PHEV will be offered, the X-Line and X-Line Prestige. The Prestige package adds a Harman Kardon premium audio system, among other things.
Pricing and safety
All versions of the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV feature an extensive array of advanced driver assistance systems, including forward collision warning and auto-braking, lane keeping assist, blind-spot collision avoidance and automatic high beams. The Prestige package adds, among other features, navigation-based active cruise control, remote smart parking assist and highway driving assist.
Pricing will be announced shortly before the plug-in hybrid model goes on sale in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year.