The 2023 Kia Sportage Has Too Many Trims
The compact crossover segment is flooded with options, and wading through all the available models can feel like drinking from a firehose for prospective owners. Additionally, many are offered in various trims with a range of prices, features, capabilities, and amenities to meet the needs of a wide selection of people. But some models perhaps take this pick-and-choose too far—a prime example being the 2023 Kia Sportage.
Let’s explore the different trims Kia offers for this affordable compact SUV and why sometimes offering more isn’t always better.
The 2023 Kia Sportage is offered in 12 total trims
Even if the Sportage makes a buyer’s shortlist among the bevy of options in the segment, there remains a dizzying array of Sportage’s from which to choose. The 2023 model is offered in an array of 12 total trims across its full lineup, which includes internal combustion only, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid iterations.
The lion’s share of those trims are for the ICE Sportage, which is available in seven guises. To make sense of all those trims, prospective buyers are essentially asked whether they value some all-terrain looks and capability, or if they will keep their Sportage exclusively on the paved paths.
For those who value some off-road capability, the X-Line AWD, X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige are offered. The X-Line features standard all-wheel drive, additional ground clearance and a center locking differential in addition to some visual upgrades like 19-inch black alloy wheels.
The X-Pro, the second most expensive in the ICE Sportage lineup, gets all the equipment of the X-Line (save for 17-inch wheels versus 19-inchers) with additional kit like all-terrain tires and all-terrain driving modes.
While those two trims are logical, the X-Pro Prestige muddies the water. The top trim of the ICE Sportage lineup doesn’t add any all-terrain kit, but it includes all the features and more upscale appointments of the top non-off-road capable model, the SX Prestige.
Those who don’t need all-terrain features can opt for the base Sportage LX, starting at $27,615, which is fairly basic on amenities but includes a suite of driver’s aids. Those wanting features like synthetic leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, wireless charging, remote start, and heated front seats need to spring for the EX.
The SX and SX Prestige share much of the same equipment, but the more expensive Prestige version wears larger tires, has ventilated front seats, and additional safety equipment like a surround-view camera.
Adding to the confusion, the Sportage Hybrid can also be had in LX, EX, and SX Prestige trims, but they come with some variations in features compared to the ICE versions.
Meanwhile, the Sportage PHEV is offered in either X-Line or X-Line Prestige trims with all-wheel drive, but neither offers the off-road kit of the “X” branded trims of the internal combustion-only Sportage.
The Sportage’s lineup could be simplified
To make shopping among more casual buyers easier, the Sportage could trim the fat of its lineup.
While the LX and EX trims make sense, the SX and SX Prestige could be combined with some of the additional features of the upper model offered as stand-alone options since not too much separates the two models to begin with.
The entire lineup’s naming structure could also use an overhaul. The X-Line designations of the PHEV model are confusing as its only real all-terrain capability is its all-wheel drive architecture while the ICE models have plenty of all-terrain features.
Additionally, the variations of standard equipment among the internal-combustion-only EX and hybrid EX, for instance, can confuse potential owners.
Using the same naming structure across the lineup with the same features would allow buyers to simply choose what level of features they desire without necessarily concerning themselves with what powertrain they choose.
And if one popular consumer test is any indication, that could help Sportage sales while simplifying things for buyers. In a particularly famous study, when buyers were presented with a multitude of options for jam flavors, they bought less than when they were offered fewer choices.
The 2023 Kia Sportage is a solid contender in its segment, but its lineup could be simplified to keep buyers interested.