2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid Review: An Addicting Total Package

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid review highlights 

  • 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid: $27,290 – $36,190 
  • Best Medium SUV – Business Motoring Awards 
  • Pros: Smooth ride, excellent cargo space, quiet interior, fuel-efficient 
  • Cons: Lack of physical tech controls, could be sportier, higher trims are AWD only 
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid review
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The Kia Sportage was totally revamped inside and out for the 2023 model year, and the first Sportage Hybrid made its debut! We can confidently say that the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is changing the game as it outranks rivals in terms of quality, comfort, power, and tech. 

It may have a new face with an LED headlight design that’s out of this world, but it definitely belongs as an excellent option for daily commuting and road tripping. The Sportage is larger than before, with more cargo space than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Honda CR-V Hybrid. 

We can’t forget to mention the near-luxury interior with a massive touchscreen that spans across the dash. It’s vibrant, attractive, and surrounded by high-quality materials. Plus, a long list of safety features and driver aids come standard. 

Which Kia Sportage Hybrid trim is best? 

There are three 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid trims: 

  • Kia Sportage Hybrid LX – $27,290 
  • Sportage Hybrid EX – $30,990 
  • Sportage Hybrid SX Prestige – $36,190 

The Kia Sportage Hybrid EX serves as a value-packed option that adds convenience and comfort features such as faux leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a wireless phone charging pad. But if you don’t want AWD, you can select the LX model. 

If you want a little more, upgrade to the SX Prestige trim adds enhanced simulated leather upholstery, ventilated seats, a surround-view camera, upgraded LED headlights, LED fog lights, enhanced tech, and more. 

How does the Kia Sportage Hybrid drive? 

A 2023 Kia Sportage HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) compact SUV driving past a field of windmills
2023 Kia Sportage HEV | Kia America

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is motivated by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a 44-kWh electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack to generate 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. 

The Sportage provides instant acceleration as one of the fastest hybrid models in the class with a smooth power delivery. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.2-seconds, which is faster than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. This SUV has no problem merging into traffic or passing others on the highway. 

Switching from Normal to Sport mode makes the ride a little more engaging with a sharper throttle response and an increased steering effort. You can use the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters if you need extra spice. 

The steering can sometimes feel a bit light, but the handling is very responsive, and the brakes are confident. The Sportage corners well and feels planted around sharp curves. Plus, the Sportage is agile and easy to maneuver in tight city areas. 

The new Sportage Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 42 mpg in the city and up to 44 mpg on the highway. We got a little less than that but spent time off-roading, in the city, on the interstate, and up curvy mountain roads without needing to fill up. 

Can the Sportage Hybrid go off-roading? 

While the Kia Sportage X-Line is better equipped for off-roading challenges, the Sportage Hybrid can hold its own. Models equipped with AWD have an 8.3-inch ground clearance, which is pretty good. 

We were worried that the Sportage Hybrid might be too short, but we didn’t scrape or bump the chassis on gravel and dirt trails through the woods. The AWD system feels confident and in control of slippery situations. Plus, there’s an AWD lock, downhill brake control, and Snow Mode. 

While we didn’t push the Kia Sportage Hybrid too far, it seemed to perform better than the Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-5 while climbing steep inclines. It was also smoother over rough sections of the trail than the Toyota RAV4 TRD Pro. 

The Sportage Hybrid will get you to your campsite without any problems but don’t expect it to keep up with a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. 

How comfortable is the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid? 

Comfort is one of the areas where the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid really shines. It has a peacefully quiet interior with a minimal amount of wind and road noise at highway speeds. It’s so discreet that sound is added to alert pedestrians while you travel at low speeds. 

The Sportage has large, well-padded, supportive seats that provide ample comfort for long drives. There are plenty of adjustment controls to find the perfect driving position. The seats have a good amount of side bolstering to hold you in place. 

The rear seats are well-padded but are slightly firmer. The backrest sits at a relaxed angle, and passengers in the rear have adequate space. Only those above 5’8″ may want a little more room.

Plus, the Sportage Hybrid features an incredibly smooth ride. Impacts are dampened and absorbed well for relaxing spins around town. You can access sounds of nature, such as waves crashing on a beach, to create an even calmer atmosphere. 

Does the Kia Sportage Hybrid have a nice interior? 

Yes, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid has a premium interior that provides an upscale feeling with an attractive layout and soft-touch-covered materials. Even the plastics have a textured design to provide a sense of exceptional quality. 

You can opt for a two-tone color scheme or go for all-black. Pops of wood veneer and silver accents allow the interior to pop in a subtle manner. Also, the SX-Prestige trim is available with ambient lighting. 

The layout is driver-focused and places everything you need within reach. The door openings are wide for easy access, and the massive panoramic sunroof doesn’t eat into head space. It fills the cabin with natural light and fresh air. Plus, the rear hatch opens wide with a convenient liftover height. 

Visibility is pretty good in the front, thanks to large windows and side mirrors. However, the front pillars are large, and the rear window is a bit small. The available surround-view camera system makes parking easier. 

What is the Kia Sportage Hybrid tech like? 

The tech in the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid feels advanced. A digital gauge cluster and an 8.0-inch infotainment system are standard, but you can upgrade to the 12.3-inch unit for clearer graphics. The graphics are crisp and vibrant. 

The system works well, but it could be a bit more intuitive. You press a button to change the radio controls to climate system controls, and a few of the menus have a few extra steps that seem unnecessary. 

While it’s distracting at first, it only takes a few minutes to learn about each function. The Sportage is easy to customize and displays your hybrid stats. Plus, the Harmon Kardon audio system sounds excellent. 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with wireless connectivity. You can opt for a wireless phone charging pad, remote park assist, a hands-free tailgate, front parking sensors, ventilated seats, and a 360-degree surround camera view. 

How much cargo space does the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid have? 

2023 Kia Sportage cargo hold
2023 Kia Sportage cargo hold | Kia

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid has the best-in-class cargo space. You can access 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and up to 74.1 cubes total. The seats fold flat to create a level load floor. You can pull a lever in the cargo hold to fold the seats down. 

Storage space for personal items is abundant, thanks to storage trays around the center console. However, the center console is a little shallow, and the glove box is tight. You can tuck the cup holders away for extra room. 

If you need more space, the Sportage Hybrid can tow up to 2,500 lbs. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid maxes out at 1,750 lbs. 

How safe is the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid? 

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is incredibly safe. It’s a Top Safety Pick. It earned a Good rating in almost every crash simulation, which is the highest score possible. 

It avoided collisions at 12 and 25 mph. In the 37 mph impact test, speed was reduced by 36 mph, and a warning was issued 1.9 seconds before contact. 

The Sportage received an Acceptable rating for its child seat anchors because they are positioned too deep in the seat. But they are easy to find and attached. 

IIHS found that the Kia Sportage has inadequate visibility with its low beams around curves. The automatic headlights work quickly but did seem a little dim compared to the Mazda CX-5. But the high beams make up for the difference. 

The safety assist features such as forward collision warning and lane-keeping assist are effective. They provide gentle alerts with soft bees and light vibrations instead of seeming over-sensitive and distracting. 

Each Kia Sportage Hybrid comes with: 

  • Forward-collision warning 
  • Automatic emergency braking 
  • Lane departure warning 
  • Lane-keeping assist 
  • Rear parking sensors 
  • High beam assist 
  • Driver attention warning 

How reliable is the Kia Sportage Hybrid? 

2023 Kia Sportage at dusk
2023 Kia Sportage | Kia

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid doesn’t have a predicted reliability rating yet. It’s still brand new and needs time to accrue some mileage. But the 2022 Kia Sportage has an above-average reliability rating of four out of five. 

With the proper care and maintenance, the Sportage Hybrid can easily make it past 200,000 miles. Some owners celebrate making it past 250,000 miles. The previous generation has an annual maintenance cost of $462, while compact SUVs cost about $521 to maintain yearly. 

MotorBiscuit gives the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid an expert rating of 9.2 out of 10 

The editors at MotorBiscuit award the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid with an overall score of 9.2 out of 10. The Sportage Hybrid proves Kia has what it takes to compete with and even outrank rivals. 

It provides a smooth, comfortable ride with features to turn up the fun. Plus, it’s well-equipped to tackle inclement weather with an excellent fuel economy. It is a confident daily driver that’s perfect for road trips. 

The interior has an attractive and functional design, but the tech could be more intuitive. Also, there’s an abundance of cargo space. Some critics feel like it has a controversial exterior style, but the LED lights look great. 

We can’t wait to see how the plug-in hybrid and gas-powered models compare. Plus, we would like to take the offer X-Line model for a spin in the wild.

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