The Sportage is Kia’s longest-running nameplate, a compact crossover sport utility vehicle. It is also one of the brand’s most popular models, arriving stateside for the 1995 model year. This small vehicle seats five, comes with standard front-wheel drive, and offers available all-wheel drive. It is also one of the most tech- and safety-laden vehicles in its class.
Just one note: Kia calls the Sportage a subcompact model in its press release. We believe this is a mistake as the company enlarged it in recent years to battle other compacts. These include the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, 2023 VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, and the Nissan Rogue. Kia does sell a subcompact model, the Seltos. Moreover, the Kia Soul sits somewhere in that range.
Highlights of the 2023 Sportage
There is much to explore about the all-new Sportage. First, the vehicle goes on sale in the first quarter of 2022. Second, new trims and electrified versions will follow. Most trims are built at the company’s West Point, Georgia, facility with the rest imported from South Korea.
Fresh Design, Expanded Trims, and the First Electrics
Opposites United. Kia’s design philosophy is known as “opposites united.” This means the automaker is “taking the idea of opposition and using it to evolve the identity of Kia.” Specifically, the Sportage heads in a new design direction, including a wider “Tiger Nose” grille and boomerang-shaped running lights. Design cues from the all-electric EV6 are also apparent. In all, the latest look is a clear departure from the previous look.
The 2023 Sportage measures slightly larger than before putting it within the thick of things in its competitive segment. For 2023, the Sportage gains all-new X-Line and X-Pro trims. These pair come with an added 1.5-inch clearance on AWD models along with rugged tires and enhanced off-road capabilities. The two new models join the LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige in filling out the Sportage’s gas-powered model line. But Kia likely isn’t done as a GT-Line may follow.
First electric models. Electrification is taking hold with Kia, with the Niro EV its current model. However, the Soul EV is no more. Beginning in 2022, the Kia EV6 joins the lineup, a model poised to tackle the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the VW ID.4. We know that electrified Sportage models are on the way too. This means hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are on the way.
Upgraded Tech and Safety Features
The 2023 Sportage gains its first-ever Wi-Fi hotspot, suitable for connecting as many as five devices. Its available navigation system offers available on-the-fly updates for real-time changes. As before smartphone integration is possible through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
A 12.3-inch touchscreen display anchors the infotainment system. Importantly, a new touchpad joins with voice and touch to expand the system’s accessibility. The new screen is matched by a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Combined, the two screens give the Sportage an unusual and upmarket look.
On the safety front, the 2023 Sportage comes with eight standard driver-assist tech features. These include a 360° surround view monitor with 3D View and a live-feed blind-spot view monitor set within the instrument cluster. Automatic headlights, lane control, and forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection comes standard.
Under the Hood, Larger Size
The Sportage’s powertrain offerings begin with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. It replaces the previous 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower. The new engine works with an 8-speed automatic transmission to send power to the wheels. Kia estimates an 8 percent improvement in fuel economy. This means fuel economy would increase from 26 mpg to 28 mpg for the base engine.
The Sportage’s other powertrain announcements have yet to be qualified, although we know electrified models will follow. In any case, we expect the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will return as an option or standard on some trims. This one currently earns a robust 240 horsepower.
Besides the larger engine, the Sportage itself gains size as well. The new model measures 3.4 inches longer between the wheels and is 7.1 inches longer overall. Kia also claims the new model is a half-inch taller and wider than the fourth-generation Sportage. Other changes include expanded rear-seat legroom. Specifically, 41.3 inches is of legroom makes this model the roomiest in its class. Moreover, the standard cargo space now measures 39.6 cubic feet.
The All-New 2023 Sportage
With the Seltos beneath the Sportage and the Sorento and Telluride following, Kia has a strong cohort of utility vehicles for customer consideration. Besides seeking an important styling edge, Kia hopes that its price point and strong warranty plans will continue to make a difference for customers.
We also think that electrifying the Sportage makes sense. Eventually, Kia will transition to fully electric vehicles. Meanwhile, various hybrid offerings can help customers begin a move that may eventually result in their first all-electric vehicle.
Photos copyright Kia Motors.