Driven: The Kia Sportage Hybrid Is the Best Option

We have been busy with the 2023 Kia Sportage. We got a week with the gas-powered model about a month after spending a week with the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid. We took both SUVs along the same routes with similar tests to determine the better engine option. 

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid vs. the 2023 Kia Sportage 

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid off-roading
2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

After spending time with a few different 2023 Kia Sportage trims, we can confirm that the Kia Sportage Hybrid seems to be the better option. However, the gas-powered model gets a few more off-roading benefits. 

The gas-powered Sportage uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. This is a solid amount of standard power. According to Edmunds, you can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 9.5 seconds. 

Critics shared that the standard engine is painfully slow, but we didn’t have an issue with it. While in Sport Mode, we passed others on the highway and merged into traffic without any issues. 

Also, the gas-powered model can tow up to 2,500 lbs. It gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and up to 32 mpg on the highway. Adding AWD reduces these figures to 23 mpg in the city and up to 28 mpg on the highway. However, we averaged 19.6 mpg combined. 

How does the Sportage Hybrid perform? 

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that’s paired with a 44-kWh electric motor and a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. They combine to generate 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. 

With the hybrid powertrain, the Sportage can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.2 seconds. The acceleration is noticeably peppier than the gas-powered model. Both options provide smooth transmission shifts and have confident brakes, though. 

The Sportage Hybrid can tow up to 2,500 lbs too. The gas-powered model and Hybrid need to be equipped with the trailer towing package and trailer brakes to achieve this number. 

Also, the Sportage Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 42 mpg in the city and up to 44 mpg on the highway. Adding AWD reduces these figures to 38 mpg in the city and on the highway. 

The Hybrid is also a bit quieter than the gas-powered model. The engine is noticeably softer, and the gas option has louder roars. 

Can the Sportage Hybrid go off-roading? 

2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro off-roading
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

Yes, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid can go off-roading. Both powertrain options can be equipped with AWD, a center-locking differential, hill start assist, downhill brake control, and a snow mode. Each model with AWD has an 8.3-inch ground clearance. 

The Sportage can be paired with 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, fog lights, parking sensors, and a 360-degree surround camera view. 

The gas engine can be paired with the Sportage X-Pro package. It includes 17-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. They have a little more side wall to protect the vehicle from impacts. 

So, the gas-powered engine comes with grippier tires for off-roading, but the Sportage Hybrid has a faster performance and saves more fuel. If the tires make a difference for you, you could add after-market options to the Sportage and benefit from the same off-roading chops.

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