2023 Kia Sportage: Shaking the Misconceptions to Be a Surprisingly Good Compact SUV

What’s the best choice in the compact SUV market? Most will answer with the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V, without mentioning the Kia Sportage. It might not be perfect, but the 2023 Kia Sportage is easily one of the best options for anyone searching for an SUV in this crowded compact class.

Can you get more out of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

If you’re looking for a way to get more out of this Kia SUV than the more popular Toyota and Honda models, it’s not too difficult. The Sportage offers five trims and three powertrains, giving you several ways to enjoy the drive.

Only the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson have as many powertrains as the Sportage. The Honda CR-V falls behind with four trims and only two power options.

Is the base model of the Sportage any good?

Interior 2023 Kia Sportage
Interior 2023 Kia Sportage | Kia

The 2023 Kia Sportage LX is the entry-level compact SUV in the lineup. This base model isn’t quite as basic as others in this class. The LX trim includes:

  • Forward-collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Lane follow assist
  • Driver attention monitor
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Rearview monitor
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Rear seat reminder
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  •  Rear privacy glass
  • LED headlights and taillights
  • 60/40 split-folding reclining rear seats
  • 12.3-inch digital instrument display
  • Second-row air vents
  • Cruise control
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • 8-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Two-phone Bluetooth pairing

Are there any drawbacks to the base model of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

These reliable small SUVs like the Kia Sportage
A 2022 Kia Sportage | Kia

Yes, unless you must stick to the base model and the gasoline powertrain pricing, you should look to the hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions of this SUV. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mates to an 8-speed automatic transmission, providing 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque.

Is there a better choice?

The hybrid model of this compact SUV offers 227 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6-liter engine with a single electric motor. The plug-in hybrid model has standard AWD, 261 horsepower, and 195 lb-ft of torque for the drive.

Not only will you find more power in the hybrid and PHEV models of the 2023 Kia Sportage, but the fuel economy results are:

  • Conventional powertrain – 25 city/32 hwy mpg (FWD), 23 city/28 hwy mpg (AWD)
  • Hybrid powertrain – 42 city/44 hwy mpg
  • PHEV powertrain – 36 city/35 hwy mpg, EV range 34 miles, AWD only

What’s the sweet spot of this compact SUV?

If you want a little of this and a little of that in your compact SUV, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is the way to go. MotorTrend calls this model the sweet spot with good AWD fuel mileage, impressive power, and a quieter cabin than the base model.

“Decent efficiency; a comfortable, well-equipped interior, and an engaging drive make for a package that’s easy to recommend the next time someone asks me what to shop for, not to mention the available warranty on offer.”

Justin Westbrook, Senior Editor MotorTrend

Does this new Sportage shake the misconceptions?

A green 2023 Kia Sportage small SUV is driving off-road.
The 2023 Kia Sportage | Kia

If you remember the bargain-basement 1993 Kia Sportage that first arrived in the North American market, the new model will shock you. This SUV has evolved over the past three decades to become one of the best options offered in the compact SUV market. Before selecting one of the more popular models from Toyota or Honda, give this Kia SUV a fair shot; it just might surprise you.

Learn more about where the Sportage fits in its class, or watch this Kia Sportage video below: