2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid First Drive: Good Power, Good MPG

kia sportage-hybrid Complete presentation

Advantages

  • More power, less gas
  • Spacious cabin
  • Luxury technology

The inconvenients

  • Air conditioning and radio controls
  • Smooth steering
  • High roll

In a world where compact SUVs remain the best-selling vehicles on the market, the hybrid niche of these compact SUVs is perhaps even more in vogue, especially given today’s exorbitant gas prices. The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid hits the market at a time when other automakers have already launched hybrid variants of their compact crossovers. But the Sportage Hybrid finds a way to differentiate itself from the rest with its bold styling and best-in-class fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive model. Moreover, this Kia also has a lower starting price.

Why should you buy the Sportage Hybrid

As if getting better fuel economy and more power wasn’t enough, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid requires virtually no compromise to do so. The front-drive LX model starts at $28,545, but we spent some time driving in the top-of-the-line SX-Prestige trim, which comes standard with all-wheel drive and costs $37,545. This sizable price difference is noticeable in the quality of materials and additional technology, but any model in the Sportage hybrid range will satisfy. And those prices compare well to those of other compact hybrid SUVs.

Regardless of trim level, all Sportage Hybrids are powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine mated to a 44 kW electric motor to deliver 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The base LX trim sends all that power to the front wheels, but an all-wheel-drive system on EX and SX-Prestige trims can split power between the front and rear axles when needed.

As we’ve said before, the LX boasts about its fuel economy, delivering EPA ratings of 42/44/43 mpg city/highway/combined driving thanks to its front-wheel-drive setup. The EX and SX-Prestige models aren’t too far off, as they’re rated at 38/38/38 mpg. While the AWD numbers aren’t best in class, they’re competitive.

All in all, that’s exactly why you should get the Sportage Hybrid over the regular model. You can compensate for the extra price at the pump and enjoy more performance behind the wheel.

How does it ride?

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid delivers strong, smooth acceleration, with the electric motor delivering instant torque that’s quickly boosted by turbo power. The result is a robust punch when rolling from a stop.

While a 0-60mph time of 7.2 seconds and a quarter-mile result of 15.5 seconds at 90.3mph aren’t mind-blowing, the Sportage feels more powerful in practice. Road test editor Chris Walton said its acceleration was “impressive with very smooth shifts,” although he noted plenty of dive and body roll during our skid test. Compact SUVs aren’t known for their great bodywork and dive control, and the Sportage’s 3,902 curb weight doesn’t help much, especially when almost 60% of it is on the axle. before.

The suspension does a good job of keeping vibrations away from the cabin, but things start to feel a bit jittery on badly damaged pavement. On smoother roads and highways, however, the Sportage is a comfortable cruiser. The interior is quiet even when hitting high speeds, and the overall ride is serene.

The steering is exactly what you’d expect from an SUV in this segment: too light for our taste, but precise and linear. Sport mode adds a bit of heft, but it’s still shy of what we’d call sporty. However, this is a minor issue, and most customers will be perfectly happy with the way the Sportage Hybrid steers.

How is the interior?

This next-gen Sportage is much longer and wider than before, which is good news. Whether you’re sitting in the front or the back, there’s plenty of room for adults, and there’s plenty of cargo space. The rear seats can be folded down from the loading area or via a lever next to the seats, and the loading floor can be adjusted between two heights.

Besides the extra space and refined packaging, the interior design of the Sportage is stunning. The attention to detail in the cabin is something we’re used to seeing in a luxury SUV, not a mainstream $38,000 crossover. We had the top-of-the-line model, but the EX’s value is even better, as it gets most of the technology and equipment from the SX-Prestige at a significantly lower price. The two 12.3-inch curved screens look like they’re straight out of a Mercedes-Benz product, and the cool air vent and door handle designs bring panache to what are usually just functional elements. . The dash looks premium and we like the large storage space in the center console.

That’s not all wonderful, as we’re not big fans of the new capacitive touch switch for the air conditioning and radio, which sits below the center air vents. You have to press an on-screen button to switch between these functions, which also affects the two buttons flanking the screen – you use the same button for volume and for driver temperature. This is quite frustrating, as intending to lower the volume can cause the temperature to drop, which happened to us several times during our test.

Other than that, the interior is a good place to hang out. Some of the plastics on the door panels don’t match the otherwise upscale vibe, but the leatherette on the steering wheel and seats are premium. Technology-wise, everything you need is here, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Infotainment does not support wireless connectivity for these smartphone mirroring functions, so you will need to use a cable to connect your device.

Is the Sportage Hybrid worth it?

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is the Sportage to buy. It offers more power and more mpg for just a little more money, a good compromise. The powertrain is punchy and this hybrid SUV drives comfortably on the road. While its handling isn’t particularly amazing, it’s at least on par with what you find in the compact SUV segment. And since this is the very first hybrid Sportage, its excellence is even more impressive. Expect it to make inroads – and fast – into the increasingly popular eco-friendly compact SUV space.

This seems good! More details?

Specifications of the 2023 Kia Sportage HEV (SX Prestige)
STARTING PRICE $37,445
PRICE AS TESTED $38,195
VEHICLE UPFIT Front Motor/Electric Motor, AWD, 5-Pass, 4-Door SUV
ENGINE 1.6L DOHC 16-Valve Direct Injection Turbocharged Inline-4
POWER (SAE NET) 177 hp at 5,500 rpm (petrol), 59 hp (electric); 227 hp (comb)
TORQUE (NET SAE) 195 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm (petrol), 195 lb-ft (electric); 258 (comb)
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (DIST FWD/REW) 3,902 pounds (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 108.5 inches
Length x Width x Height 183.5×73.4×66.1
0-60MPH 7.2s
QUARTER MILE 15.5 sec at 90.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 feet
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.80g (average)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.7 sec @ 0.65 g (average)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECONOMY 38/38/38mpg
EPA RANGE, COMB 521 miles
ON SALE Now

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