2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid Review: Grow Up, Glow Up

    The newest iteration of the Kia Sportage will get a serious glow-up. Kia has been aggressively pushing the design of its autos to the purpose that this muscular 2023 Sportage Hybrid SX Prestige appears to be like of a very totally different lineage to the lovable, small SUV it replaces. (Heck, it is barely recognizable as a Kia’s.) And behind that wild styling is a candy new hybrid powertrain, vastly improved cabin tech and the automaker’s newest driver-assistance expertise.Head-turning new lookThe new Sportage is bigger than earlier than at 183.5 inches from bumper to bumper — 7.1 inches longer than the outgoing mannequin — and has an additional 3.4 inches between its axles, bringing the brand new wheelbase to 108.5 inches. Sharply creased shoulders, extra muscular flanks and horizontal grille and rear bumper parts create the phantasm of a wider stance, regardless of the 73.4-inch vast SUV solely being 0.4 inches wider than its forebear. Overall, the brand new look is extra mature with a very good steadiness of proportions acquainted to fashionable SUVs on this class with considerate and difficult design particulars that flip heads wherever the Sportage goes.The development spurt makes room for a extra spacious inside. The Sportage Hybrid now boasts extra legroom than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, significantly on the second row the place it is gained a 3.5-inch benefit (41.3 inches versus the RAV4’s 37.8 inches). And even with the battery pack costing a little bit of cargo capability versus the non-hybrid mannequin, the 39.5 cubic toes of cargo house behind the Sportage Hybrid’s optionally available hands-free liftgate (73.7 cubes with the seats folded flat) continues to be very beneficiant for this class, beating the RAV4 Hybrid’s 37.5 cubic toes.Despite being known as Shadow Matte Gray, this instance’s optionally available $595 exterior end is extra satin than true matte and, frankly, extra premium-looking for it. The high SX Prestige spec feels prefer it was designed with this end in thoughts, complementing the paint with satin chrome accents on the grille and window surrounds and contrasting with shiny black trim across the physique and wheel arches. And whereas the LX and EX trim ranges include machine-finish 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels, respectively, the SX Prestige options virtually color-matched matte grey 18s with 235/60 all-season tires. 1.6-liter turbocharged hybridThe Sportage Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 mated to a 44-kilowatt electrical motor and a 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery. Together, they make a complete of 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque which is routed by way of a 6-speed automated transmission to both the entrance wheels or an optionally available all-wheel-drive system with a locking heart differential for mild off-road use. This is actually the identical hybrid powertrain from the excellent Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, however with another pony, so in case you do not love the Kia’s look, perhaps the Hyundai will tickle your fancy.User-selectable drive modes (Normal, Eco and Sport) enable broad customization of the Sportage Hybrid’s responsiveness. Meanwhile, normal paddle shifters grant extra exact management over the transmission’s conduct, however I virtually by no means want them given the hybrid SUV’s comfort-tuned suspension favoring a extra relaxed driving type.
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    Front-wheel drive is extra environment friendly, however EX and SX Prestige fashions come normal with all-wheel drive. Antuan Goodwin/CNETThe hybrid is essentially the most highly effective Sportage variant (for now), being considerably stronger than the 187-hp 2.5-liter engine within the non-hybrid. I’m impressed with the sleek acceleration and strong passing energy. The 1.6-liter engine does not ship essentially the most nice wide-open-throttle auditory expertise, however it’s a lot much less drone-y than most CVT-equipped hybrids and, throughout mild cruising and metropolis driving, the Sportage Hybrid is satisfyingly quiet. It’s additionally fuel-efficient. The front-drive Sportage Hybrid averages 42 mpg within the metropolis, 48 mpg freeway and 43 mpg mixed in response to the EPA’s estimates. Adding all-wheel drive knocks the numbers for my instance right down to a tidy 38 mpg throughout the board. Over a 149-mile mixture of efficiency testing and relaxed cruising, I averaged 35.5 mpg — not too far off the mark.Wait for the PHEV?Of course, in case you’re as impressed with the Sportage Hybrid’s efficiency as I’m, it might be value ready for the upcoming plug-in hybrid mannequin anticipated to launch later this 12 months. The PHEV swaps in a much bigger 7.2-kWh battery pack that may be recharged at an outlet or charging station for as much as 32 miles of electrical vary earlier than reverting to gasoline hybrid operation, which ought to increase total effectivity. It also needs to be a contact extra highly effective because of its 67-kW electrical motor.However, there are potential trade-offs to contemplate: Making room for extra battery will price the PHEV 1.8 inches of rear legroom and a pair of.1 cubic toes of cargo house — although, it’s going to nonetheless end forward of the RAV4 by each metrics. There’s additionally the upper anticipated value and probably extra restricted availability to contemplate. Still, if it is anyplace close to pretty much as good because the Hyundai Tucson PHEV — which it virtually actually will likely be with the identical powertrain and tech — the Sportage PHEV will likely be well worth the wait.
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    The hybrid is nice, however I reckon the plug-in model coming later this 12 months will likely be value ready for. Antuan Goodwin/CNETDual-screen cabin techThe Sportage’s cockpit is house to Kia’s now-familiar dual-display infotainment system that bonds two screens to a single curved glass panel stretching midway throughout the dashboard. This is actually the identical infotainment setup we have seen beforehand within the Kia EV6, however with the EV-specific menus swapped out for hybrid screens. The left show is house to the usual 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and data show. The proper is the place you will discover the newest era of Kia’s UVO touchscreen infotainment. The base LX trim options an 8-inch touchscreen, whereas EX and SX Prestige step as much as a 12.3-inch show with navigation. I’m a fan of this method’s logical and acquainted menu system, the user-customizable ‘star’ shortcut buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard and its distinctive, bizarre options like the power to file audio memos or take heed to nature sounds on the go. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal for all fashions with wi-fi connectivity on the bottom LX spec’s 8-inch system, however not the big-screen EX or SX Prestige fashions. This is an odd omission that makes the wi-fi cellphone charger added at these trim ranges really feel barely much less helpful, however not fairly a deal breaker.
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    Inside, you will discover improved tech, but in addition a lot nicer cabin supplies just like the SX Prestige’s perforated and quilted SynTex seats. Antuan Goodwin/CNETStandard Drivewise driving aidsRegardless of trim, all 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrids come normal with the automaker’s Drivewise driver support suite. This rolls in lane-keeping help, forward-collision avoidance with braking help, blind-spot monitoring, auto-braking rear cross-traffic alert and rear park distance sensors. Other optionally available security options that come on-line with the SX Prestige trim embrace adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go, Kia’s blind spot view cameras and surround-view parking cameras, in addition to 360-degree parking distance sensors with collision avoidance brake help.  The SX Prestige additionally provides Kia’s Remote Smart Parking, a characteristic that enables the driving force to maneuver the Sportage straight ahead or in reverse whereas standing curbside. For security, the system makes use of the space sensors to stop collisions with obstructions or pedestrians and solely operates when the driving force is near the car. It’s nowhere close to as advanced as, say, Tesla’s Summon guarantees, nevertheless it’s additionally very simple to function. Just line the automobile up with a slender parking spot, hop out and maintain a button on the important thing fob to information the Sportage house. As an individual dwelling with a storage that principally goes unused as a result of most automobiles will not match whereas nonetheless with the ability to open their doorways, I’d use this characteristic day by day given the possibility.
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    At the higher trim ranges, choosing the hybrid system is nearly a no brainer. Antuan Goodwin/CNETThe one to getThe 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid begins at $28,585 (together with $1,295 vacation spot) for the bottom Hybrid LX, a $1,300 premium over the identical non-hybrid spec. Add $1,800 if you’d like all-wheel drive, however provided that you assume you will actually need it in your local weather; the bottom Sportage Hybrid is probably far more price and gasoline environment friendly with out it. EX and SX Prestige fashions roll all-wheel drive into their respective $32,285 and $37,485 value tags, simplifying packaging considerably and lowering the hybrid tax to as little as $900 for the highest SX spec — selecting the hybrid is nearly a no brainer at this grade. Including paint and carpeted ground mats, my instance is available in at $38,235 as examined — over $4,000 lower than RAV4 Hybrid Limited when comparably outfitted. So not solely is the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid one of many high picks in its class with glorious efficiency and excellent design inside and outside, it is among the best values, too.

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