2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige HEV AWD - Review by Bruce Hotchkiss +VIDEO
An Economical SUV
Special Correspondent, West Coast Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
A while back I opined that I was done with hybrids. I felt that their day had passed, why have a partly electric vehicle? Well, I was wrong. I am eating my words. I hadn't even finished a full week with a 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid when I completely changed my mind. Any SUV that is rated at 38-city mpg and 38-highway mpg is a home run in my book. I did not equal the EPA's city mpg getting 'only' 34 mpg (not too shabby) but I exceeded the highway number by 1.4 mpg.
Right up front I will admit that there was one thing that I did not like, and it is easily fixed. The paint - Shadow Matte Gray - just doesn't do anything for me. I've heard that matte paint requires special washing care. Evidently, you should only use a wax-free, ph neutral, car wash soap. Just choose one of the glossy colors.
The Sportage is a five-person, medium-size SUV. It really will hold five adults, two up front and three in the back seat. According to Kia the Sportage has best-in-class rear seat leg room (41.3"), and cargo room (up to 73.7 cubic feet).
What motivates the Sportage Hybrid? A combination of a 1.6-liter gas engine and an electric motor that combined produce 277 hp, and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered through a 6-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. There is a center-locking differential if the going gets really tough. The best part of all this tech in my opinion is I never noticed it. I just drove the Sportage like any other car. I always left the drive mode in Economy.
Like many vehicles the Sportage has a touch screen. I am not a big fan of touch screens. My fingers don't always work, I find it difficult to hit the right spot (you ought to watch me try to text), and the screen ends up with a million fingerprints all over it. Give me knobs to twist, which Kia actually does. If you look at the picture above you see a slender panel with a knob at either end. But it's showing the climate controls. Kia has a little trick, just to the left of the first temperature setting (70) you see some symbols. If you push the top symbol that looks like an arrowhead the panel changes to the sound system controls. Neat. Hybrids are not known for their towing capabilities. With trailer brakes the Sportage HEV can tow 2,000 lbs., five hundred pounds less than the non-hybrid. But really if you tow more than 2,000 lbs. you're going to want something bigger, something like a Telluride (up to 5,500 lbs.). If you haven't got it yet I like Kias. I even like their new logo. As much as I've enjoyed driving some electric vehicles I would not buy one right now. But I would buy a hybrid. Who can argue with the 2023 Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige HEV AWD's fuel economy? Not me. The 2023 2023 Sportage Hybrid SX-Prestige AWD HEV starts at $36,190. It was very well equipped. I could list everything but it's easier to just show the Monroney Label. You can see there is only $750 in options. All in, without tax, the test Sportage was $38,155.
If you're not ready to spend that much but you think the Sportage is the right size for you a base FWD Sportage LX Hybrid starts at $27,290. An added benefit is the FWD Sportage ups the fuel economy to 42-mpg city and 44-mpg highway.