Kia Sportage hybrid delivers strong design, performance and fuel economy Featured

Posted On Monday, 25 December 2023 18:53 Written by
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The 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid is a brand new hybrid offering from the automaker. The 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid is a brand new hybrid offering from the automaker. Photo courtesy of Kia

Among the most interesting conversations in the automotive world right now is that EV demand appears to be down, yet buyers still seek strong fuel economy.

For those buyers, there’s no better option than a hybrid vehicle. Buying a hybrid allows them to achieve their goal of saving on fuel expenses, while also not relying on the electric grid to power their vehicle. Get a hybrid now, and you can wait until EV prices go down and become more realistic for the average buyer to afford.

And since you’ll visit the gas station much less than with a traditional ICE vehicle, hybrids are still a green offering.

Kia expanded its hybrid offerings for the 2023 model year with the introduction of the Kia Sportage hybrid in the popular compact crossover segment. The Sportage was completely redesigned for 2023, and the 2023 hybrid carries over to 2024 without any major changes.

The Sportage is now offering a diverse lineup, with everything from an ICE version, to the hybrid powertrain, to a plug-in hybrid offering.

The latest version of the Sportage has grown in size from the previous generation model, and has upgraded its technology features. In terms of Kia’s hybrid lineup, it fits in size between the Kia Niro and the Kia Sorento, and it’s a close relative of the Hyundai Tucson hybrid. 

Read on for a full breakdown of how it measures up against other leading compact crossover hybrid offerings.


Forget what you know about the look of previous generations of the Sportage, as this latest version is a whole new deal. And the changes are for the better.

It’s been upgraded in size to offer more room for all five passengers, and cargo space is also quite impressive compared to rivals.

The exterior is where things are changed pretty radically, with a front-end design featuring a bold, in-your-face grille and unique diamond-shaped headlights that I loved, but may be an acquired taste for some potential buyers.

Kia also offers a sharp-looking matte paint option, which really makes the car stand out vs. rival crossovers. Just be careful not to run it through the car wash, as you’ll need to hand-wash it and be careful about what solutions you use to clean it.

The rear design on the Sportage hybrid also stands out, and while not everyone will love the looks, I appreciate Kia being willing to experiment with design.

My test vehicle featured 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, roof rails, a rear spoiler and rear privacy glass.

Moving inside the Sportage hybrid, you’ll find truly high-quality, comfortable seating. The materials are higher-end than you’ll find in many competitors, and it ranks among the best interiors in class overall. While not quite at a luxury level, you’re definitely not slumming in the Sportage. It easily tops the design of rivals such as the RAV4 hybrid.

There’s also a large amount of room in the Sportage hybrid for both passengers and cargo. You’ll get a hair under 40 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats up, and roughly 74 cubic feet with the rear seats down. These are impressive numbers that compete very well in the segment.

Similarly, passenger space and legroom numbers also compete well with rivals, including 41.3 inches of legroom for rear passengers.

The dashboard has an attractive look due to curved digital displays in the center and in front of the driver. My test vehicle featured a particularly snazzy Carmine Red interior color package that really catches the eye.

Other interior features include:
— Memory settings for driver's seat and outside mirrors 
— Heated leather-wrapped steering wheel 
— Power adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar 
— LED interior lighting
— Heated and ventilated front seats
— 60/40 split-folding and reclining rear seats


The hybrid powertrain under the hood of the Kia Sportage hybrid features a turbo, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. It’s combined with a 44-kW electric motor as well as a 1.49-kWh battery pack. Put that all together, and you can claim 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from the system. These numbers top what’s offered by many of the key competitors in the compact hybrid segment.

The power plant is paired with a 6-speed automatic transition, and paddle shifters are also included.

The Sportage hybrid is offered in front-wheel drive (on base trim) or all-wheel drive (on top two trims). It also features Electronic Stability Control, Downhill Brake Control, and Hill-Start Assist Control.

If you don’t want a hybrid, the ICE version of the Sportage offers a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and offers just 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. So in my book, it’s preferable to get the hybrid version.

The Sportage hybrid had an impressive 0-to-60 time, clocking in at a hair over 7 seconds in my testing. While not overly powerful or sporty, the Sportage hybrid did offer an extremely smooth and quiet driving experience, and respectable handling and nimbleness in the corners. In the grand scheme of compact crossover hybrids and their drive quality, it’s one of the stronger options and a welcome addition to the field.


The Kia Sportage hybrid features a unique approach to its infotainment and tech setup, with a setup that relies on nearly all digital controls, and just a couple small knobs. It’s also got an odd setup that requires you to toggle between climate controls and radio controls, as both are not visible at the same time. This change makes controls more complicated than they need to be in the Sportage.

The system features a large and attractive 12.3-inch touchscreen, and is generally easy to use, but not quite as intuitive as the systems on rival vehicles. Voice commands also worked quite effectively if you prefer that option. The vehicle also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Music lovers can upgrade the audio to a Harman/Kardon system, and other tech features include a wireless phone charger, multiple USB ports, and a Wi-Fi in-car hotspot (for a subscription fee).

Safety is a strong area for the Sportage hybrid, as a plethora of safety systems all work effectively, but don't overreact, and Kia has covered all the major systems with its Kia DriveWise features.

They include Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Surround View Monitor, Highway Driving Assist, Remote Smart Parking Assist, Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, Parking Distance Warning and Rear Occupant Alert, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Safe Exit Warning.

One feature of note is the Surround View Monitor and its 3-D View, which provides a 360-degree view around the vehicle and is helpful in parking situations.

The Blind-Spot Monitoring is also significant, as it shows the image in your blind spot on the digital instrument cluster in front of the driver.

And for convenience, the Smart Park feature will move your vehicle in or out of a parking spot via use of the key fob.


Strong fuel mileage is an essential element of any hybrid vehicle offering, and the Sportage hybrid debuts with some impressive numbers, officially offering 38 mpg in the city/38 highway/38 combined on the AWD version. Going with the FWD version will get you an official rating of 42 mpg city and 44 highway (43 combined).

The AWD model that I tested averaged around 33 mpg during my time in the vehicle, a handful of miles below the listed number, but I probably could have squeezed a couple more miles out of it by adjusting my driving style.

These numbers are competitive in the segment, but not segment leading — some rivals have a slight edge on fuel efficiency. But the difference is small enough that this shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

If you opt for a plug-in hybrid version of the Sportage, it’s estimated to cover 34 miles on EV power before moving into gas mode.


The Kia Sportage hybrid SX-Prestige AWD that I tested was priced toward the top of the lineup, at $38K. But you can get into a base Sportage hybrid (LX trim) for just under $30K, or split the middle with an EX model for about $33K. You can also opt for a plug-in hybrid version, which starts around $40K.

These numbers are quite affordable vs. its main competitors — including the RAV4 hybrid, CR-V hybrid, Tucson hybrid and Escape hybrid, making it among the most affordable hybrid crossovers on the market.

Most buyers will be happy to take home the EX and save a bit on their budget, and they’ll still get plenty of strong comfort features and tech goodies in the car.

One area where the Sportage will outshine most competitors is the stellar warranties, including:
— 10 Year/100,000 Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty
— 10 Year/100,000 Mile Limited Battery Warranty
— 5 Year/60,000 Mile Limited Basic Warranty
— 5 Year/60,000 Mile Roadside Assistance 

With those industry-leading coverages, you won’t have to worry about going into your pocket if there are any issues with the vehicle. And you may be surprised to learn that Kia was ranked at #1 in the most recent J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, measuring quality issues over the course of 3 years.

The only downside is Kia does not offer complimentary scheduled maintenance, which is offered by some rival automakers.


The 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid features a unique look, smooth ride, solid tech and safety features, a quality and roomy interior, and should prove competitive in the compact hybrid SUV category.

The segment includes many strong options, but the arrival of the Sportage into the mix is bound to shake things up and send some buyers Kia’s way. 

=== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2023 Kia Sportage hybrid  
  • Price as tested: $38,000 
  • Best feature: Fuel mileage, unique design, spacious interior, lots of cargo space 
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars    
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Buyers seeking an compact crossover with better fuel mileage than traditional ICE offerings
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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