Sharp looks & hybrid variants aggrandize the 2023 Kia Sportage [Update]

The U.S.-spec 2023 Kia Sportage, the fifth generation of Kia’s compact SUV, is here. Kia has confirmed that, unlike any past model, it will offer the 2023 Sportage with a hybrid powertrain and likely even a plug-in hybrid powertrain, both of which it has already announced for the Euro-spec model and are available to its cousin in the U.S., the new Tucson.

We’re excited to bring to market an LX, EX, SX and SX Prestige trims. And adding our new X-Line, Sportage X-Pro and future Hybrid models will open Sportage up to a whole new range of customers.

Tom Kearns, Chief Designer, Kia Design Center America, on October 27, 2021

Much like the all-new Hyundai Tucson, the platform-mate from Kia has a bold design. Take a look at what we know so far on the next-gen Kia Sportage for the U.S. market:

Background

Kia first introduced the Sportage as a concept in 1991 (Kia Urban SUV concept) and then launched the production version in 1993. The compact crossover SUV hit the five million sales milestone in the fourth generation in 2018. From its launch in 1993 till May 2021, Kia sold 6,136,357 or more than six million units of Sportage worldwide.

While the Sportage is the best-selling Kia model worldwide, the brand’s first offering to cross the six million sales milestone, the fifth-generation could add a few million units to the tally as demand for the crossover SUV model peaks worldwide.

Design

The 2023 Sportage incorporates Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy. Kia says that Opposites United consists of five pillars: Power to Progress, Tension for Serenity, Joy for Reason, Technology for Life, and Bold for Nature. The last pillar has influenced the design creation to a great extent. The company’s designers in South Korea, the U.S., Germany, and China contributed to shaping up the all-new Sportage.

Source: Youtube/Kia America

Kia has designed the new Sportage with a familiar silhouette but used aggressive and technical-looking elements. At the front, the compact SUV lets go of the bug-eyed look. Sharp, vertically positioned Matrix LED headlamps with boomerang-shaped LED DRL and a significantly larger, sharper, and black radiator grille that spans the entire width of the face for a dominating look.

On the sides, a noteworthy change is the conventionally designed rear door frame that makes the profile look more attractive. With crisp character lines, muscular shoulder lines, and a reimagined greenhouse, the 2023 Kia Sportage looks noticeably different. For the first time in a Sportage, Kia now offers an option to get the roof painted in combination with a different body color for a two-tone exterior.

The new Sportage features what one can only describe as a quirky front end, but the rear is more or less conventional. It comes with razor-sharp LED rear combination lamps, an arching indent where the registration plate sits, and a large Kia logo right above. The bumper houses symmetrical secondary lights.

Variants

The U.S.-spec 2023 Sportage will be available in LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, and X-Line trims, as well as all-new X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige trims. The X-Pro trims feature more aggressive bumpers and extra off-road hardware to be trail-ready. Check out their additional main features below:

  • 17-inch matte black off-road wheels
  • LED fog lights and LED projector headlights (standard on X-Pro Prestige)
  • Heated windshield and wiper washer nozzle
  • Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow drive modes
  • Two-tone roof (optional)
  • Ventilated front seats (X-Pro Prestige)
  • 8-way power front passenger seat

2023 Kia Sportage Interior

The 2023 Kia Sportage features a thoroughly upgraded interior replete with a snazzy dual-screen cockpit, sleeker dashboard design, and a center console with reduced physical buttons. Overall, the interior is a big step up from the previous generation model.

The top-end 2023 Kia Sportage gets a curved panel that seamlessly merges a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, covering more than half of the width. The panoramic curved display, which Kia says is the “nucleus” of the all-new Sportage’s cabin, reduces distortion caused by viewing angles. It makes it easier to recognize information and minimizes driver distraction.

2023 Kia Sportage interior dashboard
The 2023 Kia Sportage features a minimalist interior that will apply to the hybrid variants. Image Source: Kia

Two slim vertical air vents hug the two screens of the driver cockpit. The center console also carries a more upmarket design, and it houses a shift-by-wire transmission dial instead of a conventional lever.

The floor console of the 2023 Sportage has a high-end gloss finish, and it provides storage space, cupholders, and soft-touch switches, with the latter positioned alongside the transmission dial. The front seats sport a slim shell design, and their headrests integrate hanger-type designs, which allows hooking clothing and handbags. A Harman Kardon premium sound system is present onboard to appeal to the audiophiles.

Kia has included many new smart features in the 2023 Sportage. Kia Connect, a suite of connected car services, allows connecting the vehicle to smart home devices like lights and air conditioners. Customers can save their personal profile that automatically adjusts the main vehicle settings like seat position, infotainment system functions, AC temperature, etc.

2023 Kia Sportage Specifications

Kia has developed the fifth-gen Sportage on its new N3 architecture. This is the company’s first model available in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase versions depending on the market. We expect Kia to sell the Sportage long-wheelbase in most regions worldwide, places where customers demand space.

The U.S.-spec 2023 Sportage is the long-wheelbase version, which is 7.1 inches longer than the previous model, and its wheelbase is 3.4 inches longer. The all-new model is also half-inch taller and wider. Kia claims best-in-class rear legroom of 41.3 inches and best-in-class cargo capacity behind the rear seats of 39.5 cubic feet. We’re awaiting the detailed measurements of the U.S.-spec version.

The new Sportage is the first Kia model to feature a Terrain mode for off-road driving. It automatically adjusts the vehicle for more challenging conditions like snow, mud, and sand. Also new is an Electric Control Suspension (ECS) with continuous damping control. The hybrid variants have a new ‘E-Handling’ system for improved agility and stability during cornering.

Hybrid Powertrains

Kia has confirmed that it will offer the U.S.-spec 2023 Sportage with a hybrid powertrain and “other powertrains,” but plans to announce details at a later date. One of the “other powertrains” will likely be a plug-in hybrid. In some markets, it offers a mild-hybrid variant as well.

Kia Sportage Hybrid for the U.S. (Sportage HEV)

The U.S.-spec Kia Sportage Hybrid debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Its powertrain combines a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with a 44 kW electric motor, and it produces a total power of 226 hp. Power goes to either the front wheels or an active AWD system. A six-speed automatic transmission with a rotary-style shifter is standard in the hybrid variant. The driver can select from four drive modes: Eco, Sport, Smart and Snow.

Kia claims that the U.S.-spec Sportage Hybrid offers a class-leading 2,000 lb towing capacity. It is targeting an EPA-est. fuel economy rating of up to 39 mpg for the FWD configuration. Except for the unique 17- or 18-inch wheels and the HEV badging, the Sportage Hybrid variant looks the same as the gasoline Sportage.

Sportage MHEV (Mild Hybrid)

European markets get the mild-hybrid variant with 150 PS/180 PS (148 hp/177 hp) 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline and 115 PS/136 PS (113 hp/134 hp) 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel engine options. Transmission choices will include 6-speed manual and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic for the gasoline MHEV and 6-speed intelligent manual and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic for the diesel MHEV.

Sportage PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid)

European markets have a plug-in hybrid option as well. The Sportage PHEV also features a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, but with a 66.9 kW motor and a 13.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The engine alone produces 180 PS (177 hp) of power, and along with the electric drive unit, there’s 265 PS (261 hp) of system power available at disposal. A 6-speed automatic transmission transmits the power.

The battery pack, located under the vehicle floor, charges with a 7.2 kW on-board charger. Kia claims a leading power density of 1.53 kW/l and an efficiency of 95%. There’s no word on the charging time and the range, but expect to see a similar spec sheet on the U.S.-bound model.

Considering the specifications of the sister model, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson PHEV, the Sportage in EV mode should cover over 30 miles (EPA est.). The fuel consumption rating may also be around 80 MPGe (EPA est.). Details regarding the Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid for the U.S. market are expected to be released next year.

Kia Sportage PHEV plug-in hybrid charging spy shot
Kia has developed the first-ever Sportage PHEV in South Korea. Image Source: YouTube/무한질주TV

A media report that came in late 2020 claimed that Kia is developing a pure electric version of the Sportage, though this information is unverified.

Safety

Kia says that it has improved the safety of the Sportage with a reinforced body structure. The company has confirmed the following standard safety systems for its fifth-generation:

  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW)
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
  • Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) with Cyclist detection
  • Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
  • Backup camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • LED headlights with High Beam Assist (HBA)

A long list of ADAS features will be available as an option on the 2023 Sportage:

  • Blind Spot View Monitor (BVM)
  • Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA)
  • Blind Spot Collision Avoidance (BCA) with Parallel Exit
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance-Assist (RCCA)
  • Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) with Junction Turning capability
  • Front parking sensors
  • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA)
  • Highway Driving Assist
  • Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go
  • Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Curve (NSCC-C)
  • Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Zone (NSCC-Z)
  • Reverse Parking Collision Avoidance (PCA-R) with pedestrian detection
  • Safe Exit Warning (SEW)

2023 Kia Sportage Release date

Kia has confirmed that it will launch the Sportage Hybrid in the U.S. in early 2022 (January-April 2022). The company may not bring the plug-in hybrid variant to the country until the second half of 2022.

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid FAQs

What is the new Kia Sportage Hybrid release date?

Kia will launch the all-new Sportage Hybrid in the U.S. in early 2022. The PHEV could join the lineup later that year.

What will be the 2023 Kia Sportage price?

The next-gen Sportage price should start at around $25,000 in the United States. The hybrid variants are expected from around $30,000.

What are the potential Kia Sportage alternatives?

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson & 2022 Nissan Rogue Sport are options to those who seek alternatives

Featured Image Source: Kia