2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro vs. 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness: A Compact Off-Road Battle

The newly announced 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro is the newest addition to the off-road vehicles pouring into the market. The Sportage is completely redesigned for the 2023 model year and looks like a significant improvement. The compact SUV now has the X-Pro off-road-focused trim level. It’ll battle alongside other off-road compact SUVs like the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness, so which one is better?

Off-road features we know about for the 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro

The 2023 Kia Sportage on display in a showroom, its new X-Pro off-road trim will compete with vehicles like the Subaru Forester Wilderness
2023 Kia Sportage | Kia

The X-Pro trim levels feature upgrades like 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, a heated windshield, and LED fog lights. An Increased amount of ground clearance comes standard with any all-wheel drive Kia Sportage for 2023. We think it’s safe to assume that all X-Pro models will have AWD. That information and more is not available to the public yet.

The other portion of the off-road model is the X-Line appearance package. It gives the 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro new bumpers, wheels, a roof rack, and black trim. These accents give the entire vehicle a darker, sleeker look. The appearance package is perfect for the off-road model, though it is not exclusive.

Is the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness better for off-roading?

A blue Subaru Forester Wilderness drives through the forest on a dirt road. It's better than the 2023 Kia Sportage for off-road driving.
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Subaru

The Subaru Forester Wilderness is going to be hard to beat for off-road capability in the compact SUV segment. It’s loaded with all-terrain features to ensure drivers are prepared for anything. Drivetrain and suspension modifications improve capability, and the Wilderness edition doubles its tow capacity. It gains ground clearance from its raised ride height as well.

It’s 1.4 inches taller than the standard Forester models, boosting it to a total of 9.2 inches of ground clearance. The Forester Wilderness also comes with specially-tuned dampers for smoothing out the ride quality in rugged areas. It has selectable driving modes for snow and dirt, or deep snow and mud. The Wilderness Edition also gives the Forester’s CVT eight simulated ratios, up from the standard seven, to increase its climbing and descending capability.

Which one costs more?

Green 2023 Kia Sportage with mountains in the background. Its X-Pro off-road trim enters the lineup for 2023.
2023 Kia Sportage | Kia

Kia has not revealed the official 2023 Kia Sportage price points. CarAndDriver expects the price to be higher than the previous model year, and land somewhere between $25,265 and $36,425. With the equipment and capability included in this model, the X-Pro landing somewhere between those marks would be huge. Around the $30,000 is the sweet spot for affordable small SUVs, especially ones as nice as the Sportage.

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness starts at $32,820. We’d like to see the 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro come in close to that mark, possibly for even less. From what we know now, the Wilderness is still the better off-road option. It’s loaded with extra features geared for leaving the road. The dampers, extra ride height, and increased climbing capability make it a great off-road option.

This compact off-road battle will surely be one for the ages. As the new Kia Sportage enters the market, it’ll bring with it loads of new features. An off-road-focused trim is promising, and we hope to hear more about it soon. The new redesigned Sportage will be available in 2022. The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness is available now and can be customized using the build & price tool on Subaru’s website.

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