Is the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid a Good SUV? 6 Pros and 4 Cons

kia sportage hybrid 2023 07 exterior profile scaled jpg 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | photo by Christian Lantry

Compact SUVs like the Kia Sportage check a lot of the boxes for a wide variety of buyers, making them some of the most popular vehicles in showrooms today. The good news is that fierce competition brings constant improvement, and the newly redesigned 2023 Sportage is one of the better ones available.

Related: 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid Review: Great (With a Catch)

Larger and roomier than before, the Sportage is pleasant to drive, well equipped for the money and brings strong value to the table. The redesign also includes an available hybrid powertrain; we found it smooth, refined and quick. There’s only one catch, and unfortunately, it’s a big one: The average fuel economy during a road trip was disappointing for a hybrid. That’s a serious demerit given that saving on gas is a big reason people buy hybrids in the first place.

While we found a lot to like with the Sportage Hybrid, there are a few other things that need work, too. For Jennifer Geiger’s complete review, hit the link above; for a quicker look, below are six things we like about the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid and four things we think could be improved.

Things We Like

1. Quick Off the Line

kia sportage hybrid 2023 03 exterior front angle scaled jpg 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | photo by Christian Lantry

The Sportage Hybrid is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a 1.49-kilowatt-hour battery and 44-kilowatt electric motor for a total of 227 horsepower combined. Matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, acceleration is immediate and quick, easily outpacing the rival Honda CR-V Hybrid and at least matching the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

2. Modes for Moods

A choice of driving modes lets drivers decide just how green they care to be, with a Sport mode for quicker acceleration and response or an Eco mode to restrain things a bit. Whichever mode you choose, however, you won’t find the Sportage Hybrid to be a fuel economy champ.

3. Good Travel Companion

A smooth ride, relatively quiet interior, composed handling and precise steering with good feedback give the Sportage Hybrid an agreeable combination of a comfortable yet engaging feel from the helm. Choosing Sport mode increases the sporty feel and adds a bit more heft to the steering. A linear braking response is also welcome, with none of the overeager feel of some regenerative braking systems.

4. Room for the Gang

kia sportage hybrid 2023 44 interior backseat scaled jpg 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | photo by Christian Lantry

The redesigned Sportage has a notably roomier interior; it’s now one of the largest in the class. Inside, you’ll find ample headroom and legroom front and rear, and there is more occupant and cargo space overall than the competing CR-V or RAV4 by manufacturer numbers. There’s also plenty of room for two car seats in the back, and easily accessible Latch anchors help ease installation.

5. Clever Storage Options

Nice interior touches include adjustable cupholders to secure beverage containers of different sizes, a deep center console, seatback coat hangers built into the head restraints and hooks for shopping bags. The thoughtful thinking continues in the cargo area, with spring loaded handles to release and fold the rear seatbacks and a bi-level cargo floor to secure small items.

6. Solid Value

Starting at $28,585 for a base LX trim with front-wheel drive, the Sportage Hybrid is competitively priced. That includes a generous assortment of safety and convenience features. Both the CR-V and RAV4 hybrids come standard with all-wheel drive, but even when AWD is added for $1,800, the Sportage Hybrid still costs less than either of those alternatives.

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Things We Don’t Like

1. MPG

kia sportage hybrid 2023 02 exterior dynamic profile scaled jpg 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | photo by Christian Lantry

Front-drive versions of the Sportage Hybrid are EPA-rated at 42/44/43 mpg city/highway/combined. While not terrible, that’s less than the estimates for either the CR-V or RAV4 hybrids with standard AWD. When equipped with AWD, the Sportage Hybrid drops even further, with a combined rating of 38 mpg; worse, we saw only 33.8 mpg during a long road trip with our AWD Sportage Hybrid in EX trim.

2. No EV Mode

Unlike some competitors, the Sportage Hybrid does not give drivers the option of saving gas with an electric mode to allow it to travel on electric power alone. Better news may be coming, however, with a plug-in version due later in 2022, which should be good for 32 miles of all-electric range.

3. Control Issues

kia sportage hybrid 2023 53 interior center stack display scaled jpg 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid | photo by Jennifer Geiger

There’s little to distinguish the hybrid’s controls from the conventionally powered Sportage, and that’s a good thing — the Sportage’s controls are pretty straightforward, with the only notable difference from the gas version being a rotary shift knob instead of a lever. But the two knobs below the touchscreen double as audio and climate controls, which can get confusing. More than once, we cranked up the temperature when we thought we were raising the volume for a favorite song.

4. Not Much Android Love

Pairing an Android phone proved easy enough, but the Android Auto interface uses only about two-thirds of the touchscreen. That not only wastes space, it makes the display harder to see and use. Apple CarPlay users have no such problem, as the display takes up the full width of the screen.

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