2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid: Review — Cars.com

(bright music) – Compact SUVs are like bunnies, they’re cute, small, look alike, and are just about everywhere. With so many out there, it’s hard to keep them all straight. But the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid stands out, thanks to its thoughtfully-designed cabin, roomy footprint, and pleasant road manners. In Kia’s SUV lineup, the Sportage sits between the tiny Seltos, and three-row Sorento. Redesigned for 2023, the fifth-generation Sportage grows in size and power, and, Kia added a hybrid model to the lineup. For the most part, the Kia Sportage Hybrid is a big win for Kia, and one of

the best compact SUVs in the class. There are a couple of things that do need work, however. Let’s check it out. At first glance, the Sportage’s cabin is forgettably average, with predictable amounts of hard plastic, and a pretty boring design. But actually, there’s some pretty cool stuff going on that makes it more flexible for carrying people and their stuff. In front, I like these multisize cup holders, that can be expanded to hold a large drink, or minimized for a regular can or bottle. There’s also a very deep center console storage box, that easily swallowed my

family’s stash of road trip snacks. A mom hack made the backseat more family-friendly. Kia calls these coat hangers, but I use them for my homemade rear entertainment system. Below that, are integrated

hooks, for holding charging cables or shopping bags, and below that, are large pockets for stashing more stuff. In terms of room, it excels here too. Second row headroom and legroom were great for two adults, and the seats are nice, and supportive, and comfortable. It also did well in our car seat check, thanks to accessible latch anchors, and plenty of legroom for two car seats.

In back, spring-loaded cargo area handles easily and quickly fold the seats flat, and this under floor storage space was a really nice way to corral smaller items. Space back here is competitive too. It’s very wide and deep, and easily swallowed a week’s worth of my family’s luggage. I’m also impressed with the controls for the most part. Base models use an eight-inch touchscreen. My EX model uses a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen, that also pairs with a 12.3-inch gauge cluster. Together, they combine for a high tech, sleek look and feel. I could use a little more low tech

when it comes to the knobs below the screen, however. While the touchscreen’s buttons and menu structure were straightforward and easy to navigate, the pair of climate knobs below the screen were awkward to use, because they switch functions between temperature controls and audio controls. I’m all about sharing, except when it doesn’t make sense. Push the paper airplane-like button, and the left knob becomes volume control, and the right knob changes the radio station or track. Push the fan button, and the knobs switch to control cabin temps. Here’s what happened to me comically several times during my test.

I’m listening to a song that I like, I wanna crank the volume, instead, I end up cranking the cabin temp to 80 degrees. It’s not a dealbreaker, it’s just a weird quirk that caught me several times. There’s one other oddity, but it’s only for us Android users. Pairing my phone with Android Auto was seamless, but the display could be better. For Android users, the interface takes up about two-thirds of the screen, with a lot of wasted space on the right side. Connect an iPhone, and it uses 100% of the screen, for a much better use

of space. Again, it’s not a dealbreaker, it’s just odd. Road manners are another high point. The Sportage Hybrid’s brisk acceleration feels almost EV-like off the line. Near instant torque from the electric motor, combined with a turbocharged engine’s power, makes for a peppy and engaging start. The 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder combines with a 1.49 kilowatt-hour battery, and 44 kilowatt electric motor, for a total of 226 horsepower. The setup is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. On the whole, it cruises comfortably, with a smooth ride, composed handling, no-nonsense shifts, and precise steering with good feedback. Choosing Sport Mode

adds some heft to the steering, if you’re looking for a firmer feel. It also adds more oomph on takeoff. Eco Mode does the opposite, and dulls responsiveness to save gas, which you might need to do, as fuel economy was disappointing during my test. The Hybrid is EPA rated at 42, 44, 43 miles per gallon, city, highway, combined in two-wheel drive. All-wheel drive lowers the numbers considerably, to a city, highway, combined rating of 38 miles per gallon. In practice, I achieved well short of all these figures. During a 408-mile road trip, in this EX all-wheel drive

model, I averaged a weak sauce return of 33.8 miles per gallon. However, conditions were not optimal, and my trip was full of gas-hogging, mitigating factors. My drive consisted of about 80% highway driving, so there weren’t many opportunities for capturing breaking energy, which boosts efficiency. Also, it was hot. So the AC was cranked, which lowers efficiency. Lastly, the SUV was loaded with people and gear, two adults, two kids, and a cargo area filled to the max. Better mileage is on the horizon, however, with a plug-in version that’s coming next year, that has an EPA estimated range

of 32 electric miles. The Sportage Hybrid scores more points in the safety and value departments. A suite of advanced driver assistance systems comes standard across all trims, and includes Driver Attention Warning, Lane-Centering Steering, Lane Keep Assist, and Forward Collision Avoidance with Cyclist Detection, and Autonomous Emergency Breaking. Optional add-ons include a Blind-Spot Monitor with Collision Avoidance, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking, and Navigation-Based Adaptive Cruise Control. It’s sub $30,000 starting price makes it competitive in the class. Although it’s worth noting that these models offer standard all-wheel drive. But even with all-wheel drive, the Sportage Hybrid

is still a couple hundred dollars less than the RAV4 Hybrid. With a strong blend of space, value, and comfort, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid excels as a compact SUV. As a hybrid though, fuel economy was disappointing in my test. (bright music)

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