For the longest time in the '90s and 2000s, Korean automaker Kia struggled to make a dent on the market. Their cars weren't the best quality, they weren't particularly good to drive, and the only USP they had was that they were cheaper alternatives to better established rivals. That could not be more different today.

Note: While we wait for official word from consumers on the 2023 Sportage SUV, HotCars' 'Costs, Facts, And Figures' rating defaults to 1 out of 10. Once we start fielding what owners think of this upcoming vehicle, we'll be sure to update the score to reflect what drivers think.

Kia has morphed into a truly desirable automaker with a fantastic product portfolio. One of the cars that we have to thank for Kia's global revolution is the Sportage. While the original was a dorky Suzuki Sidekick type of vehicle, the 2010 model was an excellent, award-winning SUV. For the 2023 model year, Kia has thoroughly re-designed the Sportage, and it looks excellent.

2023 Kia Sportage

1.00 / 10
Key Features
  • Completely redesigned
  • HEV and PHEV
  • Massively improved technology
Specifications
  • Engine/Motor: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder/66.9 kW motor with a 13.8 kWh battery pack
  • Horsepower: 177-187 hp
  • Torque: 178-195 lb-ft
  • Drivetrain: FWD/AWD
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic/8-speed automatic
  • Range: 32 miles (PHEV)
  • Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Pros
  • Striking looks
  • Frugal new powertrains
  • Plentiful, modern technology
Cons
  • No third row
  • Potentially weak base engine
  • Not the best maintenance offers

Overview Of The 2023 Sportage

The front of a white Sportage SX on a bridge
Kia

The 2023 Kia Sportage is the fifth generation of Kia's compact SUV that has been around since 1995. The original model was pretty tiny, more akin to the aforementioned Suzuki Sidekick. Over the years, it morphed into a compact SUV, and even though it got off to a slow start, the latest one looks to be better than ever.

The rear of a white Sportage SX on a coastal road
Kia

RELATED: Here's How The 2023 Kia Sportage May Compare With Its Rivals

Straight away, the design of the new Sportage juts out. Whether it's in a good way or bad way is up to the beholder. The previous-generation model was good-looking, but it played things relatively safe. Striking styling, as it seems, sells cars in the modern automotive climate, and the new Sportage definitely falls under that category. Much like its cousin, the Hyundai Tucson, in fact. The Sportage destined for North America is almost identical to the Korean market model, which in turn is a little bigger than the one Europe gets. The latest evolution of Kia's tiger nose dominates the front end, with a unique set of headlights and running lights.

The side profile is also notable, with a silver trim piece surrounding the rear quarter window. The rear features a unique set of taillights, that aren't split between bumper and tailgate like the Tucson, or the previous Sportage. Obviously, the controversial new Kia logo is also found throughout.

New for the 2023 Sportage is the slightly more rugged, "off-roady" X-Pro trim level. Kia offers its usual selection of trim levels on the Sportage, including LX, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige, as well as the new-for-2023 X-Line, the aforementioned X-Pro, and X-Pro Prestige, but no GT-Line. The 2023 Sportage competes with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, which is still very popular in the States, the Volkswagen Tiguan, one of the best-sellers, the Honda CR-V and its own cousin, the Hyundai Tucson.

2023 Sportage Powertrains And Drivetrains

The front of a green Sportage X-Pro on the move in the mountains
Kia

There's tons of exciting news surrounding the powertrains on the 2023 Sportage. The base engine is a pretty standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder with around 177 hp, which sends power to either the front wheels or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. With that power figure, this engine might not be the one to go for, as the Sportage is quite heavy and substantially bigger than the previous one.

Rear 3/4 view of a green Sportage X-Pro on the move on a bridge
Kia

RELATED: The 2023 Kia Sportage Looks Awesome

For the first time ever, Kia offers electrified powertrains on the Sportage. Both of them use a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which should improve the car's get-up-and-go, while improving efficiency and emissions. The PHEV version uses a 66.9 kW e-motor with a 13.2 kWh battery pack, which Kia claims will give an electric-only range of 32 miles, which is pretty good.

Even though that's a pretty powerful e-motor, with the way they work together, the maximum output of the PHEV is 190 hp. Rather than an eight-speed, the PHEV and HEV versions use a six-speed automatic transmission. The best way to describe the way the Sportage drives is that it's good at everything, without really excelling at something. That's no bad thing, as it means it's a perfect compromise between comfort, quietness and competence when the road does get twisty.

2023 Sportage Comfort And Quality

The interior of the Sportage, gray leather
Kia

On the inside, the Sportage is the latest model to use Kia's newest interior design language. This means a continuous panel of two screens, one for the gauges and the other for the infotainment system, a decluttered center stack, and the new Kia logo. A major difference is that the North American Sportage receives a conventional automatic gear selector, instead of a turn-dial like other global models.

The rear seat clothes hangers in the Sportage
Kia

RELATED: Here’s Why The New Kia Sportage Will Be The Ultimate Urban SUV

There are various cool features available for the interior. They include a Harman Kardon audio system, smartphone mirroring, cooled seats, clothes hangers mounted on the front seats (pictured), and various driver assistance systems, some of which are appearing for the first time on the Sportage. There are also the familiar Hyundai/Kia touches, like Sounds of Nature and the award-winning blindspot cameras in the gauge cluster.

In terms of reliability, while the Sportage is too new to judge on that, Kia recently came in first place in a JD Power Reliability Survey, so there's not much to worry about. It seats five passengers, with no option for a third row despite the size, and the cargo area boasts a best-in-class capacity of 39.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up.

2023 Sportage Pricing And Launch

Front 3/4 view of a white Sportage at night, lights on
Kia

The 2023 Sportage will arrive in Kia dealerships in the spring of 2022, assuming the chip shortage doesn't get in the way. Pricing starts at $25,990 for a base LX model with FWD, and it goes all the way up to $36,790 for a fully loaded X-Pro Prestige with AWD. Pricing details for the PHEV and HEV models will come at a later date.

Front 3/4 view of a green Sportage X-Pro at night near a cliff, lights on
Kia

On paper, the new Sportage has a lot going for it. Distinctive styling, lots of new technology, frugal powertrain options, plenty of space and competitive pricing. While the competition is fierce, the 2023 Kia Sportage might just have what it takes to fight.

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