2023 Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige AWD

Kia has given the new Sportage a subtle yet welcoming presence, without making an effort to make it stand out too much. Our X-Line test car, which comes in Vesta Blue, has distinct bumpers and gloss-black side mirrors, roof rails, window surrounds, and 19-inch wheels.

To match the larger Sportage proportions, the grille has been made bigger, and big lower faux intake panels have been added. The LED lighting throughout includes boomerang DRLs, while small design details add flair. The hood creases have been ironed out to the edges, and there is modest black cladding over round wheel arches to the rear, with LED taillights bridging the tailgate.

INTERIOR

In all trims except for the base LX, the car’s interior has a horizontally oriented 12.3-inch touchscreen. Additionally, an available 25-inch display integrates the digital cluster, curved towards the driver under one pane of glass, showing information for navigation, diagnostics, convenience, entertainment, and immersive vehicle features.

Equipped with Blind-Spot View Monitor, the car projects a live feed of blind spots onto the instrument cluster when the turn signal is triggered. This system can guide the vehicle in its current lane to avoid potential collisions when combined with the optional Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist.

With the use of four exterior-mounted cameras, the 360° Degree Surround View Monitor provides a 360° view of the car’s surroundings, increasing awareness when maneuvering in certain situations. Additionally, wireless charging for devices and two USB-C chargers located on the back of the seats are also available.

Doubling as a menu bar, the touch-sensitive climate control panel can have its temperature dials changed to audio volume and tuning by pressing the arrow button, while the climate controls become a menu bar for the touchscreen. The car’s vents are framed with chrome-like plastic, adding visual interest to the refined wood and carbon-fiber-like trim, but the smudgy gloss-black plastic console and door panels detract from the premium appearance.

FUEL ECONOMY

With a 7.2-kWh battery pack, the plug-in hybrid system offers up to 34 miles of electric range before switching to gasoline hybrid mode. This results in almost 30 MPGe efficiency gains, although the Sportage PHEV doesn’t come with DC fast-charging, it can be charged at a Level 2 station within two hours using the 7.2-kW on-board charger.

Reliance on public chargers for the Sportage’s battery charging is less convenient and may not be as efficient due to slow charging speeds. Nevertheless, charging at home overnight is feasible, and the plug-in version offers greater fuel savings compared to other models, making short fully electric drives in urban areas possible.

PERFORMANCE

With 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the Sportage PHEV utilizes a 1.6L Turbocharged plug-in hybrid powertrain with a 6-speed auto, the same system as the plug-in versions of the Sorento and the Hyundai Tucson. Additionally, it is equipped with all-wheel drive and a 13.8-kWh battery that powers the electric motor.

With electric assistance, the Sportage accelerates quickly from a stop and easily maneuvers through busy traffic, while still promoting safe driving habits. The Sportage PHEV strikes a balance between agility and responsibility.

Communication through the steering is lacking, and emergency stops were hampered by inconsistent and squishy brake pedal feel. Although the Sportage experiences some body roll and nervousness over midcorner bumps, its forgiving ride and satisfactory handling make it suitable for daily driving.

A quiet engine and seamless transition between electric and gas power creates a tranquil powertrain, and the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Wind noise at highway speeds may become intrusive, and although the engine can become noisy when exceeding 3000 rpm, it doesn’t sound unrefined or gruff.

CONCLUSION

The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige AWD we tested was priced at a total of $44,285 and featured a black interior with a Vesta Blue exterior.

Competition

The Toyota RAV4’s potent Prime plug-in hybrid, which provides 42 miles of electric range, currently leads the class. In contrast, the Ford Escape serves as a versatile foundation for a range of models, including the Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Maverick hybrid pickup truck. Additionally, the new Hyundai Tucson is noteworthy for its origami look and significant gains in size and efficiency, thanks to its hybrid edition.

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