Auto123 reviews the 2023 Kia Sportage HEV.
When we first drove the revised 2023 Kia Sportage SUV this spring, its maker had already confirmed two other variants – a straight hybrid and a plug-in hybrid – were on the way. Those versions were not ready or available to us then, so we made do with the old-school ICE version of the overhauled SUV, then debuting itself in its new generation.
In a nutshell, the model revealed many qualities and few remaining weaknesses, and while it seemed clear the new Sportage is definitely a step forward from the old, the consensus was the best was yet to come, in the form of versions with electrified powertrains.
We’re part way there now, with the launch of the HEV version (the PHEV is expected in the coming weeks).
The new Sportage
We won’t dwell on the exterior differences of the new Sportage in relation to its predecessor – that’s ground already covered, and there are no differences appearance-wise between the regular and HEV versions, save the badging on the back end – except to say things are less dull here for the beholder. The larger and bolder tiger nose grille o the evolved Sportage leads the way, and overall the shape and profile of the SUV are far more exciting than previous.
Needless to say, it’s also overall bigger than ever, with total length increasing by 180 mm to 4,660 mm and wheelbase by 86 mm to 2760 mm. Predictably, this translates into very generous rear passenger space and quite a large cargo area. In both respects, the new Sportage sits in the top half of its segment. Note, however, that in the case of this HEV variant you do lose a bit of the cargo space the ICE version has (1,003 litres instead of 1,121).
Of course, if you like the practicality of very small SUVs for scooting around town and flitting in and out of tight parking spaces, this longer, wider and taller Sportage will disappoint you. The Niro awaits you in that case.
Also worth noting once more is the very modernized interior of the new Sportage, which represents a big leap forward compared to the old model. The impressive dashboard screen is actually dual 12.3-inch screens in one seamless display, and it’s quick and responsive, its image resolution high. The central console portion of that display is for infotainment and it’s a touchscreen with the menus laid out fairly usefully.
If you’re not a screen-menu-scrolling kind of person, know that there are touch sensitive commands (meaning, they’re not physical buttons, although there are two knobs at each end) lower down on the console. These are divided into two rows, one for audio and nav and such, the other for the climate control. But only one shows at a time; to toggle between one set of commands and the other you must – yes – push one of two touch-sensitive commands.
We’ve seen the system in the EV6 from Kia, and while it certainly is an efficient use of space, it’s a little too easy to mistakenly and suddenly crank the volume way up high when you meant to increase the temperature. Or vice versa. Anyways, you can always take refuge in the redundant buttons for basic commands found on the steering wheel.