Three letter word for "relentless self-improvement". Hmmmm.....
The Kia Sportage has been around since 1997 and no one thought the first generation was a styling masterpiece---or even that it had been styled. The Sportage was so dowdy early on that I found the 2009 model praiseworthy, got downright lavish with the high-fives for the 2011 Sportage, and somehow overlooked the bizarro front end of the 2017 model to rave about the car as a whole.
Okay, so the 2023 Sportage front end is a bit sci-fi, too---but it's also contemporary and aggressive, announcing that the Sportage is evolving. The new one is larger in every dimension with best-in-class passenger room, cargo room and second-row legroom.
Gasoline-engined Sportages get a 2.5-liter four with 187 horsepower, but our tester was the turbocharged hybrid, with 227 horsepower, all-wheel drive and an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 38 miles per gallon city/38 highway. Front-wheel drive models get 43 mpg both city and highway. We had the test vehicle waiting for us on arrival at SFO as we returned from a vacation in France, and had the opportunity to drive it in the Bay Area, back home to suburban Sacramento and around the Sacramento area for a week and found the EPA numbers totally achievable, the power more than adequate and the ride and room top-notch.
The interior feels more premium in the '23. I'm sure that's because the SX-Prestige is an upper trim level, but the pricing is remarkably down to earth. The base price of the 2023 Kia Sportage SX-Prestige AWD is $36,190.
And----that's it. Apart from $595 for the Shadow Matte Gray paint and $155 for carpeted floor mats, everything ---18 inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, Harman/Kardon premium audio system, smart cruise control with stop and go, LED headlights, taillights and fog lights, ventilated seats, a heated windshield and more---is standard. So, with $1,215 inland freight and handling, the as-tested price of the 2023 Kia Sportage SX-Prestige AWD is $38,155.
That price is right in the sweet spot in the small crossover segment, and Kia delivers on feature content, power and room in a way Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V will be hard-pressed to match (we haven't driven the all-new '23 CR-V yet). Kia is on an impressive product roll lately. The Sportage maintains and maybe accelerates the momentum.