The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid won our Motor1.com Star Award for Best SUV for a multitude of reasons. The Sportage Hybrid pairs a buttery smooth powertrain with unique styling, space in spades, and a delightful drive, making it well-deserving of top honors in its class for 2022.
But what a difference a powertrain can make. The Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine doesn’t have the same award-winning likability as the hybrid model. It lacks oomph and fails on efficiency, while this version still costs nearly $40,000 as-tested.
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|Quick Stats||2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige|
|Output:||187 Horsepower / 178 Pound-Feet|
|Drive Type:||All-Wheel Drive|
|Efficiency:||23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined|
Gallery: 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro AWD: Review
- Exterior Color: Jungle Green / Ebony Black
- Interior Color: Black
- Wheel Size: 17 Inches
The 2023 Kia Sportage opts for style over simplicity. The focal point is the front end; two boomerang LED accents wrap around diamond-shaped headlights with both elements baked into the Tiger Nose grille. Equally angular taillights streak across the rear, while both the front and rear fixtures boast standard LEDs as part of the Prestige trim tested here.
This is also the X-Pro model, which makes small tweaks to the front fascia. The Jungle Green paint and Ebony Black roof ($395) join 17-inch black wheels wrapped in all-terrain rubber. The Sportage X-Pro has a slight ride height lift, too, that brings it 1.5 inches higher off the ground for better clearance (8.3 inches total).
A lot of the same stuff we like on other Kia products carries over to the cabin. A mix of high-quality materials coat the center console, real matte wood accents dot the door panels, and although there are some harder plastics and gloss black features around, they're tolerable among the nicer elements. There's also a sleek screen control panel that transitions from climate to volume controls at a touch, which helps cut down on clutter and reduces the need for additional buttons.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Kia Sportage
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 39.6 / 74.1 Cubic Feet
Because the fifth-generation Sportage is bigger than its predecessor – by 7.1 inches in length – it has more cargo and passenger space. The front two seats are roomy yielding ample headroom and legroom, while the back seat boasts some of the best legroom in the class alongside its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Tucson. Second-row cargo space is also a strong point for the Sportage.
|Interior Dimensions||Headroom, Front/Rear:||Legroom, Front/Rear:||Cargo Volume:|
|Kia Sportage X-Pro||37.8 / 38.0 Inches||41.4 / 41.3 Inches||39.6 / 74.1 Cubic Feet|
|Honda CR-V||38.0 / 39.1 Inches||41.3 / 40.4 Inches||39.2 / 75.8 Cubic Feet|
|Hyundai Tucson||40.1 / 39.5 Inches||41.4 / 41.3 Inches||38.7 / 80.3 Cubic Feet|
|Nissan Rogue||41.1 / 39.2 Inches||41.5 / 38.5 Inches||36.5 / 74.1 Cubic Feet|
|Toyota RAV4||37.7 / 39.5 Inches||41.0 / 37.8 Inches||37.5 / 69.8 Cubic Feet|
In terms of ride quality, the Sportage finds a solid middle ground between dynamic and comfortable. The chassis is well-sorted, which makes this SUV relatively fun to fling around (more on that in the performance section), but it also absorbs speed bumps and imperfect roads without crashing down too harshly. The only knock against the Sportage X-Pro in the comfort department is the tires; the knobby 17-inch rubber can be a touch loud at highway speeds.
- Center Display: 12.3-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: No
The base Sportage sports a ho-hum 8.0-inch touchscreen with a tiny digital instrument cluster perched between two analog gauges. Upper trims, like this X-Pro Prestige, get a nicer 12.3-inch touchscreen with a corresponding 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that both come loaded with the latest infotainment tech from Kia.
Kia's Uvo infotainment system is as good to use as always; neon graphics cover the home screen, the nixie-tube radio display is a neat touch, and touch-responsiveness is still smartphone-quick. But as usual, Kia only offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on its base screen. You still have to plug in here.
Kia also replaced the traditional volume/tuning and climate control knobs with a slightly too-clever touch panel that swaps between the two functions at the press of a digital button. It works well in practice and looks nice, but it's hard to parse while driving.
- Engine: 2.5-Liter Four-Cylinder
- Output: 187 Horsepower / 178 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
With the hybrid powertrain equipped, the Sportage is award-worthy. Without it, the Sportage's base 2.5-liter four-cylinder is just ok, delivering 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. You'll have to bury deep into the accelerator to get this SUV up to speed on onramps or the highway.
At least the eight-speed automatic transmission marks an improvement over last year's six-speed with quicker and smoother shifts, while the optional all-wheel-drive system adds some additional grip.
Dynamically there isn't a ton to write home about, but the Sportage does strike an admirable balance between comfort and sportiness – leaning more toward the former. But at least the steering is nicely weighted and the suspension is responsive.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick
Things like automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane centering, and high-beam assist come standard on every new Sportage. The X-Pro Prestige and other upper trims add forward collision assistance with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, additional parking assistance features, and Kia’s lauded Highway Driving Assist (HDA).
Activating HDA helps keep the Sportage perfectly centered in the lane while also delivering acceleration and braking inputs automatically depending on the flow of traffic. It’s one of the most advanced driver assistance features you can find at this price point.
- City: 23
- Highway: 28
- Combined: 25
- Base Price: $25,990 + $1,295 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $38,085
- As-Tested Price: $38,555
A reasonable $27,285 (including the $1,295 destination fee) will get you into a base Sportage, but it won’t get you a lot of equipment. On the flip side, the top-trim X-Pro Prestige starts at $38,085 and comes loaded with features. Our tester, with the two-tone Jungle Green paint ($395) and carpeted floor mat accessories ($155), comes in at $38,555. Almost everything else is standard.
The Sportage X-Pro Prestige is a decent value compared to the other “rugged” alternatives; the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road costs $38,410 and the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is $39,140. Only its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Tucson XRT AWD, is more affordable at $35,005 to start.
But the $10,000-plus gulf between a base Sportage and a fully loaded model is steep – and that puts this version well above the average price for this segment. And like we said, the hybrid powertrain is the one to get. So unless you really want a taller ride height and knobby tires, other versions of the Sportage offer much of the same for less.
|Pricing||Base Price + Destination:||Trim Base Price||Competitively Equipped|
|Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD||$25,990 + $1,295||$38,085||$38,555|
|Honda CR-V EX-L AWD||$31,110 + $1,245||$35,005||$38,700|
|Hyundai Tucson XRT AWD||$26,450 + $1,295||$34,570||$36,470|
|Nissan Rogue Platinum AWD||$27,150 + $1,295||$39,865||$40,610|
|Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road||$27,575 + $1,215||$38,410||$38,410|
Sportage Competitor Reviews:
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige