For 2023 the Kia Sportage is all-new from the ground up with the latest styling language from the brand known as Opposites United. What does that mean? A lot of futuristic details and artistic ovations likes its boomerang signature driving lights and patterned metal trims.
Bigger than the old Sportage in every direction by up to seven-inches, it rides on the same N3 platform architecture as the larger Sorento. As such it is now the largest of all its competitors in class such as the RAV4, CR-V and Escape just to name a few.
Standard with FWD and optional with AWD such as in our EX Premium tester, the new Sportage Hybrid has a longer wheelbase than before and is a lot heavier now at 3896 lbs as tested. It features a common strut suspension at the front and a multi-link at the rear.
I found the ride around town to be tuned a little bit on the bouncy and floaty side meaning it seemed to have excess body motions over undulations, dips, speed humps and the like. Bumpy pavement also seemed to unsettle the chassis easily.
It was otherwise a comfortable and quiet existence with a 63.2 dB noise rating on our 70 mpg highway test. At speed the Sportage Hybrid feels stable and solid with predictable handling characteristics. As with any SUV, what I’m really interested in is how it handles off the pavement.
Under the hood is a rather unique combination, a 1.6.-liter direct-injected turbocharged four cylinder engine with a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission and a powerful electric motor sandwiched in between them.
The result is 227 combined system horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, top of class. EPA rates the combo at 38 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined. If you get FWD, you can get up to 42 mpg.
I found it to be very peppy around town and for passing on the highway. The engine and transmission combination is one of the most refined in the class with a traditional driving feel afforded by its traditional automatic transmission.
Where this powertrain let me down however was in its efficiency, missing the EPA rating by a significant gap, only achieving about 30 mpg in our week of combined testing.
The interior was a major bright spot with a very mid-century modern fashion in its design. Good materials for trims and bits, excellent switch gear and rich navy blue color impressed me. Feature content for the price is impressive too.
Seating is vinyl, what Kia calls SynTex. It looks and feels like leather and the seats themselves hold you like they love you. Power adjustable for the driver and manually adjustable for the passenger they are worth the ride.
The rear seats feature the most legroom in class with the longer wheelbase. Its cargo hold also grows to largest in class and features a slick dual load floor at the rear.
In all I was impressed with the new 2023 Kia Sportage, improved in every way. The only look for improvement is maybe some suspension tuning and a way to extract a little more efficiency from its powertrain.