The small or compact hybrid SUV class is an incredibly competitive segment, perhaps the most competitive.
There are a slew of options, even when just talking about hybrids or plug-ins. Given the price of gas these days, even as it drops, more and more people are looking for the room of a Suburban and the fuel efficiency of a motorcycle.
Chopping one’s way through the field of options can be difficult, and whenever I’m asked by someone looking to buy one, I generally have two recommendations: the Toyota RAV4 hybrid and the Ford Escape hybrid.
That is until I spent a week in the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD — now I’ve got a new favorite.
Using the brand’s Opposites United design theme, Kia completely remade the Sportage line-up for 2023. The results are impressive, the addition of the plug-in model aside. The new iteration is larger and more spacious than the outgoing model.
Additionally, Kia was quick to make sure it was jumping on the trend of making small utes more off-road friendly, adding the X-Line and X-Pro models. Buyers in this segment still like a little zip when the mash the go pedal and the GT-Line will help with that.
The new model is miles ahead on the styling front. There is no mistaking new Sportage for its predecessor. It retains Kia’s Tiger nose grille — but wider, which is accented by the distinct boomerang headlights finding their way on to some of the company’s other utes.
It’s sharing the same platform as its larger Sorento sibling, allowing Kia to stretch it by more than 7 inches, although the wheelbase is just 3.4 inches longer than the previous-gen model. It’s also 2 inches taller and enjoys 8.3 inches of ground clears on all-wheel-drive models and 7.1 inches on the front-wheel drive versions.
Add to that the multitude of angles and a pronounced shoulder the result is a very contemporary, masculine exterior that is very, very appealing. Plus, our tester came in the prettiest color I’ve seen on a vehicle in some time, Vesta Blue which is a dark greenish-blue that changes a bit depending upon the light you see the Sportage in.
That color carries over into the interior with a mix of navy blue on the dashboard and a mix of navy and gray faux leather seats — which are heated and very, very comfortable. The amount of room in the cabin is about perfect: plenty of space but not so much that you feel disconnected from everyone else.
That ample space some from the move up to the bigger platform and it resulted in with best-in-class rear seat legroom and rear cargo capacity.
Kia’s new 12.3-inch curved touchscreen dominates the dashboard — and it should, it’s simply the best offering in its class as far as I’m concerned. The navigation system is good, but the large screen is crisp and makes it easy to see. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available.
The Sportage Hybird EX is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder hybrid that puts out an impressive 227 horsepower. Running in electric only mode it’s quick, responsive and quiet. In full hybrid you can simply take out the word quiet. It averages 38 miles per gallon and can travel more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas.
While there wasn’t a real opportunity to try out the all-wheel drive the 6-speed automatic was a smooth shifter. Not jolts or heaves, which is excellent from a 6-speed. It also came with paddle shifters if you want to exercise a bit more control. They’re responsive and did offer a nice bit of extra oomph when pushing the Sportage through its paces.
Safety and Technology
Small vehicles often give folks the feeling of being less safe. No need to feel that way Sportage EX with dual front, side-mounted and full-length curtain airbags as well as electronic stability control to help prevent the need for any of those airbags.
Additionally, it came with Kia’s Drivewise driver assistance technology, which includes forward-collision avoidance assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, parking distance warning (in reverse) and more. Fortunately, I didn’t put any of these systems to the test, but it’s nice to know they’re available and at the ready.
The massive 12.3-inch touchscreen was excellent, including the navigation system. Kia’s offering is very good and I did toy around with it a bit; however, I’m a CarPlay loyalist and I used it most of the time. It adapts well to CarPlay, which made me very happy.
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD Specifications
|Dimension||L: 183.5 inches/W: 73.4 inches/H: 65.4 inches/Wheelbase: 108.5 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine plus a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor; 6-speed transmission AWD|
|Fuel Economy||38 mpg city/38 mpg highway/38 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $30,990; As tested: $33,860, plus $1,215 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
It has looks, comfort, technology and performance — sounds like a winner, right? What about price?
Yeah. It’s impressive there too. Our EX with all-wheel drive, which isn’t the brand’s top trim level, comes in at $33,600, including the $1,215 handling fee. Now you can add value to the list, which puts 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD at the top of my most recommended list.
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX AWD — Frequently Asked Questions
Does the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid come with all-wheel drive?
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid comes in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX Prestige. All models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available in the LX and standard in the EX and SX Prestige.
Where is the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid built?
The automaker builds the Sportage Hybrid and PHEV in Gwangju, South Korea, unlike its internal combustion engine-equipped sibling, which Kia now produces at its West Point, Georgia, manufacturing plant.
When can I order a 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid?
The hybrid model is available now.