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The 2023 Kia Sportage boasts an attractive makeover for the new model year. Among its exciting updates are hybrid and plug-in hybrid options. Both eco-friendly versions and the gas-powered model have their pros and cons. But Consumer Reports testers note one area where the gas-powered model falls short of its hybrid siblings. 

Consumer Reports likes several aspects of the 2023 Kia Sportage

2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro | Kia

Consumer Reports has a number of good things to say about the 2023 Kia Sportage. Right off the bat, it mentions the vehicle’s roomy interior, which surpasses that of many other small SUVs. It provides 43 inches of legroom in the front and 30.5 inches of legroom in the rear, allowing space for even taller riders.

The Sportage also receives props for its ride quality, which Consumer Reports calls one of the best in the small SUV segment. Then there’s the Sportage’s ease of access. Thanks to seats at hip height, wide door openings, and only a slight step up, almost anyone can slide into the Sportage without trouble. 

The gas-powered 2023 Kia Sportage disappoints in 1 area

When it comes to the gas-powered version of the 2023 Kia Sportage, there’s one area where Consumer Reports finds it especially lacking compared with the hybrid and PHEV models. We’re talking about acceleration power

CR gives the 2023 gas-powered Sportage mediocre ratings in this area. It boils down to the amount of time the SUV takes to reach 60 mph. As Consumer Reports puts it, “After an annoyingly abrupt first burst off the line, it feels lackluster — OK, downright slow — after that. It’s one of the few vehicles today that needs 10 seconds to run from 0 to 60 mph.” 

The hybrid version, on the other hand, boasts much better acceleration. It can reach 60 mph in under eight seconds — quite a significant improvement over its gas-powered counterpart. 

Pros and cons of the hybrid model

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid boasts more than one advantage over the gas-powered version. It also has a huge leg up in fuel economy. The hybrid gets 36 mpg combined, compared with only 25 mpg for the standard Sportage. 

Despite those advantages, the hybrid is hardly perfect. One area of concern Consumer Reports mentions is braking. The hybrid requires five more feet to stop than the standard Sportage. Those five feet could make a difference when trying to avoid a collision. 

Consumer Reports also finds the hybrid Sportage’s gear selector awkward. “The hybrid model has a rotary gear selector, which takes some familiarity because you have to press a separate button to shift into Park, rather than just turning the dial to Park as would seem more logical,” the review states.  

Finally, there’s the question of handling, where the hybrid doesn’t quite live up to the standard version’s performance. “The hybrid version … was 3.5 mph slower through the avoidance maneuver, although its speed was still respectable,” CR notes. “Less tire grip, more pronounced body roll, and a more aggressive ESC intervention hurt its speed.”

So although the standard 2023 Kia Sportage falls short of its gas-saving sibling in acceleration, the hybrid still needs to catch up in quite a few other areas.