Perception might not be everything but it’s definitely important. Kia has long been seen as a value brand. However, the perception about value brands is that they can be cheap. Kia is out to change that view by having you look at it as a brand that offers excellent value. You can see that in the midsize Telluride — the Edmunds Top Rated SUV three years in a row — the versatile three-row Sorento and now the redesigned 2023 Kia Sportage.
The Sportage is Kia’s compact-class SUV. Its key competitors are the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4 and the Mazda CX-5, so it’s no wonder that it can get lost in the shuffle for a lot of shoppers. The 2023 Sportage retains its comfortable seating, broad set of tech features, and class-leading warranty from the previous generation and then adds even more technology, expanded cargo capacity and some off-road chops.
What’s under the Sportage’s hood?
Both Kia and parent company Hyundai have been expanding powertrain lineups for their small SUVs, so it should come as no surprise that the Sportage is available with a variety of engines.
The standard motor is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque on tap. The Sportage is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and offers a choice between front- and all-wheel drive.
All-wheel drive comes standard on the new X-Line and X-Pro trim levels, which are aimed at off-road enthusiasts, or at least those who are curious. The X-Line merely looks the part, with unique front and rear fascias, gloss black exterior styling elements and a roof rack. The X-Pro goes even further, with all-terrain tires, additional traction modes and drivetrain tuning that accounts for the all-terrain tires, plus useful features such as LED foglights and a heated windshield. All Sportages with all-wheel drive get a lifted stance and 8.3 inches of ground clearance, which isn’t too far off from the outdoorsy Subaru Forester and its 8.7 inches. The front-wheel-drive Sportage has a more typical 7.1 inches of clearance.
Electrified versions, which come in the form of a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, will be available in Q2 (of 2022). The hybrid comes with a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that is paired with an electric motor and produces 227 hp combined. That’s pretty strong for a hybrid SUV, and its fuel economy is attractive, too: an EPA-estimated 43 mpg in combined driving with front-wheel drive, or 38 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The plug-in hybrid information is not yet available, but it’s worth noting that the Tucson and the Kia Sorento — the Sportage’s big brother — are both available with a 261-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. We believe this to be the exact powertrain that will make its way into the Sportage as well.