More details on the U.S. model 2023 Kia Sportage have arrived.
We’ve already seen the car earlier this year as it made its Korean debut — new platform, new styling and all. What we didn’t yet know is what sort of powertrains, trims and features to expect when the car reaches our shores, but that changes today. This time around, the fifth-generation Sportage — based on the same “N3” architecture as nearly all updated Hyundai/Kia models including the Sorento, Santa Fe and Tucson — is taking a bold new tack. Not just in styling, but in trim philosophies and powertrains.
In terms of numbers, the new Sportage is in fact larger than the outgoing car. It’s gained 7.1 inches in overall length, and rides on a wheelbase 3.4 inches longer than the old model. That helps it achieve 41.3 inches of rear legroom — pretty cavernous for a small crossover — as well as a best-in-class 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space, with the rear seats in place. The fifth-gen model also packs a wider stance, as it’s half an inch taller and wider than the previous generation.
One engine at launch (with more on the way)
When it arrives in the first quarter of 2022, the new Kia Sportage will also share its launch engine with the Hyundai Tucson. Out goes the old 2.4-liter mill, and in its place is a slightly more potent, 2.5-liter engine. The updated powerplant puts out 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, sending its power to the front wheels or all four through an 8-speed automatic transmission. To make it more dirt-worthy, all-wheel drive Sportages gain 1.5 inches in ground clearance over the outgoing model, bringing it up to a decent 8.3 inches. Not quite as much clearance as a Subaru Forester, but at least it’s now in the ball park.
At the moment, Kia has not shared information on additional powertrains, but did mention that a hybrid model is in fact coming. Based on the 2.5-liter revelation, we can more or less expect a Sportage Hybrid to mirror the 2022 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, pairing a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine to an electric motor for a total output around 226 horsepower. It’s unclear whether that will be the direct replacement for the old 2.0-liter turbo option — we’ll have to wait and see there.
New X-Line and X-Pro trims
Like before, the 2023 Kia Sportage kicks off at the base LX trim. From there, you climb the range through EX and SX. This time around, though, it gains the SX-Prestige trim like the Sorento, with more choice options. Some higher-end models gain access to a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment display, as well as an available 360-degree camera, Harman Kardon premium audio system, wireless charging and an available Wi-Fi hotspot. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability come standard across the range.
As well as all the driver assistance tech you’d expect these crossovers to carry (Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep and Lane Follow Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance, Park Distance Warning and a host of optional safety tech features), the 2023 Kia Sportage also brings a few new trims to the table.
The Sportage X-Line brings in standard all-wheel drive, as well as a few unique touches to give it a more rugged look. You get unique front and rear bumpers, side mirrors, a bespoke roof rack and window surrounds finished in gloss black. The raised roof rack rails offer some more flexibility for adventure gear, though we hesitate slightly in our off-road ambitions when we see “19-inch wheels” as part of the package, which the X-Line has.
Then there’s the X-Pro trim, which gives you some more hardware to actually make your Sportage more off-road worthy. Smaller 17-inch wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, for example, help a bit over the other AWD Sportage trims. As ever, the X-Pro (and those other AWD trims) do get a locking center differential with an electro-hydraulic coupling to split the power between the front and rear wheels.
The X-Pro also brings in LED fog llights, as well as a heated windshield and wiper washer nozzle for winter conditions. An X-Pro Prestige model brings in some more luxurious features like standard LED projector headlights, ventilated front seats and an 8-way power adjustable passenger seat.
Since we’re still a couple months off from the 2023 Kia Sportage hitting dealers, exact pricing isn’t available yet. The current model starts just north of $25,000, so I’d expect the base LX model to kick off slightly higher. As for trims like the SX-Prestige, X-Line and X-Pro, you could fairly estimate that they’ll occupy the mid-to-upper-$30,000 brackets.
If you’re looking for some comparison between this Sportage and the old one, check out our efforts to test the outgoing car’s towing prowess up the Ike Gauntlet in our “Tike Ike” series: