New vehicles are taking on bolder, more distinctive looks these days. Odds are every one of those quirky-cool looking vehicles catching your eye these days is a Kia.
The latest example from the company is the all-new 2023 Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid. In addition to its dynamic styling, the new Sportage is notable for its comfort, spaciousness, generous feature set and strong value proposition.
If any mainstream manufacturer has a more consistently avant-garde approach to styling these days, I’ve yet to see it. What’s more, each new Kia model to emerge over the past few years has taken the brand’s styling language farther along the unconventional scale.
Remarkably though, each of those steadily more progressive designs is also undeniably attractive. One could argue Kia’s current line-up, taken as a whole, is one of the best looking and most distinctive ranges of vehicles currently on offer.
The Sportage’s black grille treatment appears to float and is punctuated by a pair of boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. A deft blending of chiseled ruggedness and refined smoothness, the look of the 2023 Sportage takes on an even more aggressive character when the X-Line package is applied. Satin chrome accentuates the X-Line’s grille and bumpers, while the side mirrors, roof rack and window surrounds are rendered in gloss black, along with the 19-inch alloy wheels.
At the rear, the muscularity of the Kia’s “shoulders” — made all the more prominent by contrasting blacked-out roof pillars — sweeps gracefully into a pair of notch-shaped taillights. Tying these together is a tastefully understated line of thin black trim running the width of the tailgate.
Kia’s product development team says high-end outdoor products and furniture as well as modern architecture inspired the interior treatment. Wherever they got the idea, the look is certainly modern, bordering on futuristic.
My X-Line Prestige test model was fitted with a dual panoramic curved display, which integrates a pair of digital monitors into what appears to be a 25-inch widescreen. In actuality though, it’s a pair of 12.3-inch screens in a single frame. The one behind the steering wheel monitors the Sportage’s vital functions, while the one to the right of the wheel provides an infotainment interface.
A clever dual-purpose touch-sensitive panel beneath that interface provides direct control of the audio and climate control systems. While it’s a neat trick, you have to be careful when you reach for it, as you can inadvertently toggle its function away from the one you want.
A rotary shift dial anchors the piano black center console, with a push to start button and a few other controls playing supporting roles.
Turbocharged and electrified, the all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid powertrain rated at 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is made possible by a powerful 66.9 kW electric motor, and a 13.8 kWh battery pack. According to Kia, this combination is good for up to 34 miles of EV operation.
This marks the first time the Sportage has been offered with a plug-in variant.
A 6-speed automatic transmission routes thrust to all four wheels. The Kia PHEV has a 7.2-kW charger on board, which can fully replenish the battery from depletion in two hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charger.
The EPA rates its fuel economy at 35 mpg overall, which my experience confirmed.
Safety and Technology
In typical Kia fashion, the list of features is both broad and deep.
The 360-degree Surround-View Monitor offers a 3D view and multiplexes the output of cameras located around the Sportage to give the impression one is looking down at the Kia from above. This comes in handy when parking and maneuvering in potentially hazardous Costco parking lots.
Standard on the X-Line Prestige is a Harman/Kardon premium audio system. My test car also had a wireless phone charger and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. The latter is capable of connecting five devices to 4G LTE-based internet solution. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on X-line trims.
The system also offers over-the-air map updates, stolen vehicle tracking and immobilization capability. Kia’s Connected Routing is included as well. This cloud-based system calculates routes using real-time maps and predicted traffic info based on historical information. It also features an AI component, capable of learning your preferred routes.
And, all of that is before we even get into the alphabet soup of driver assistance features, including lane following assist, driver attention warning, nav-based smart cruise control and on and on and on.
Unapologetically geared more toward comfort than sport (despite the model’s name), Kia’s Sportage rides comfortably, operates smoothly and displays reasonable confidence in every situation on the road.
The Kia also offers a variety of drive modes to make mild off-roading more manageable. While I wouldn’t try to drive it on the Rubicon, nor tackle Moab’s advanced trails, the Sportage X-Line acquits itself rather admirably on a wide variety of “soft roads.”
Ingress and egress are trouble free, even for shorter people — and there’s good legroom at all four seating positions for persons of average height. Cargo capacity is such that a family of four could make the Sportage their vacation road trip ride with no compromise.
Throttle, steering and braking response are accurate and reassuring, making the Sportage quite easy to drive. Its reasonable size also makes it easy to park on big city streets.
2023 Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige AWD Specifications
|Dimensions||L: 183.5 inches/W: 73.4 inches/H: 66.9 inches/Wheelbase: 108.5 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder w/plug-in hybrid, 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||20 mpg city/25 mpg highway/22 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $42,990; As tested: $44,285|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
All in all, the newly redesigned 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige, makes Kia’s midsized crossover SUV a solidly competitive proposition. It’s good looking, exceptionally well equipped, fuel efficient and comfortable. The model is competent on the highway, easy to handle around town and capable of dealing with mild off-road situations besides.
There’s good legroom at all seating positions, cargo capacity is respectable, and the cargo floor offers a dual level configuration to make it even more accommodating. And all of this is before we even mention the 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2023 Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige – Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Kia Sportage a reliable car?
The 2023 Sportage’s J.D. Power predicted reliability score is 88 out of 100. For perspective, 91 to 100 is considered Best, 81 to 90 is Great, 70 to 80 is Average, and 69 or less is below average on Power’s scale.
What is the average lifespan of a Kia Sportage?
Given proper maintenance, a Kia SUV could last 250,000 miles, or roughly 20 years if driven at the rate of 12,000 miles annually.
Is the Kia Sportage a safe SUV?
Sportage scores five out of five stars for overall crash protection by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).