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Kia dominates the small SUV segment with the Sportage, Soul, Seltos, and Niro. Indeed, the Sportage is the brand’s most popular model. However, a recent study shows another Kia compact SUV — the EV6 — rates higher in owner satisfaction. How do the Sportage and EV6 compare in sales, and which is the better Kia SUV?

The Sportage is the best-selling Kia model, even more popular than the beloved Telluride. Year-to-date sales numbers show Kia delivered 83,742 Sportage SUVs in the first six months of 2023, almost 20,000 more than in that timeframe in 2022. 

This past July alone, the South Korean automaker sold 11,853 Sportage units. It’s the cherry on top of Kia’s record-setting July sales total of 70,930, a 14% gain over July 2022. 

The 2023 EV6 can’t touch the Sportage in sales. The new all-electric Kia compact SUV sold only 10,265 units in the first half of 2023. In the same period last year, it sold 14,284 units. And this past July, only 1,937 EV6 SUVs moved off dealership lots. 

Although more shoppers pick the Sportage over the EV6, owners highly praise the electric SUV.

The EV6 is the highest-ranked Kia compact SUV in owner satisfaction

A red 2023 Kia EV6 GT blasts around a corner.
Kia EV6 GT | Kia

The EV6 is one of nine Hyundai Motor Group models to win this year’s J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Awards. 

The Sportage didn’t receive any honors, not even cracking the top three in its segment. Kia’s other model award winners are the K5 midsize car, Carnival minivan, Forte compact car, Rio small car, Stinger midsize premium car, and Telluride upper midsize SUV. In addition to being the highest-rated Kia compact SUV, the EV6 tied with the Nissan Ariya as the highest-ranked compact SUV overall. 

So, why is the EV6 so satisfying? Owners told J.D. Power they like the SUV’s power, quiet cabin, and excellent fuel economy. However, they think the audio system’s sound quality could be better. They also gave the 2023 EV6 below-average ratings for its headlights’ effectiveness and its cargo capacity.

This year’s APEAL study is based on feedback from nearly 85,000 owners of new models who had the vehicle in their possession for 90 days. The study surveyed buyers who purchased their vehicles between November 2022 and February 2023, based on car registration records. J.D. Power collected the data from February through May 2023. 

Is the 2023 Kia EV6 a good car?

Seats in a 2023 EV6, the highest-ranked Kia compact SUV in owner satisfaction
2023 Kia EV6 | Kia

The Kia EV6 is an excellent EV. It has standard rear-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive for better traction. The all-electric powertrain enables this Kia compact SUV’s Wind RWD and GT-Line RWD models to travel an estimated 310 miles on a full charge. The other EV6 trims can go about 232 miles. 

Packing 167 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the EV6 can zoom from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. It’s also capable of handling 400-volt and 800-volt DC fast chargers. With an 800-volt charging system, users can juice the battery from 10% to 80% in about 18 minutes. 

As for the interior, the 2023 EV6 has roomy, comfortable seating for five. However, owners are justified in criticizing the EV’s subpar storage space. This Kia compact SUV provides only 24.4 cubic feet behind the rear row and 50.2 cubic feet with that row folded flat. For comparison, the Sportage touts 39.6 cubic feet of rear cargo room and 74.1 cubic feet with the seat area. In fact, the Sportage is a cargo space champ.

Regarding tech features, the EV6 boasts a 12.3-inch touchscreen, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, and five USB ports. Advanced driver-assistance systems include rear parking sensors, smart cruise control, blind-spot detection, and automatic emergency braking with junction-turning detection.

Although the 2023 Sportage is the most popular Kia model, the EV6 beats its best-selling sibling in the J.D. Power APEAL Study. Overall, though, both are safe and reliable compact SUVs. 


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