2023 Kia Sportage PHEV
One of the Best Compact Crossover Options Gets Another Option
With the slow but steady transition to full battery electric vehicles, long-running nameplates like the Kia Sportage are proving to be an integral part of that evolution. Infusing more and more battery power into what they do, without sacrificing what they are. All that to say, this Kia Sportage now has a plug!
Kia has been rapidly spreading electric power throughout their lineup, and the latest vehicle to get the plug-in treatment is this 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV. After going through quite a growth spurt, the 5th generation Sportage remains one of the roomiest in the compact crossover class, and its available turbo-hybrid powertrain delivers above average response and driving experience.
This PHEV makes it even more so, with an additional 90-horsepower thanks to a 66.9-kW electric motor added to the Hybrid’s 1.6-liter turbo-4, bringing totals to 261-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. It really makes this Sportage feel like a whole different vehicle.
Indeed, some of the hardware is already used on the Sorento and Hyundai Tucson PHEVs. There is heaps of power, smoothly delivered through 6-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel-drive. A 13.8-kWh battery delivers 34-miles of strictly EV range, about the same as fellow newcomer Dodge Hornet R/T, but well shy of the Toyota RAV4 Prime’s 42. Though the Sportage can be fully charged on Level 2 in just 2-hours.
There are no major departures when it comes to exterior design, though PHEVs are available exclusively in X-Line and X-Line Prestige trim, which means rugged styling cues, satin chrome trim, and 19-inch wheels for the outside…
…and more of a premium mindset for the interior. The great materials throughout the cabin reinforce that, as does the available panoramic dual screen display, that merges a pair of 12.3-inch screens for driver info and infotainment. Prestige level adds full LED lighting, surround view monitor, alloy pedals, Harmon Kardon Premium Audio, and additional safety features. Seats in both front and rear are very comfortable, and there really is lots of rear legroom. UVO infotainment remains intuitive, but we are still not fans of Kia’s multipurpose touch panel for audio and climate controls.
Batteries and hybrid hardware are stored in back, limiting the Sportage’s dual level cargo area to just the higher floor position. Though space remains quite good at 34.5 cubic-ft., down from 39.5. Max remains a generous 65.5 cubic-ft.
At the track, there was a little hesitation off the line, and a clear transition of power, as the electric motor gets things rolling with the turbo-4 kicking in shortly thereafter for full speed ahead. Once that happens, speed builds quickly, hitting 60 in 7.0-seconds flat; 7/10ths quicker than we saw in the standard hybrid.
The automatic transmission’s 1-2 shift is fairly aggressive, and has you looking forward to what’s to come, but as we worked our way down the track, the 2-3 shift was very lethargic, killing momentum that it never seemed to be able to regain for the rest of the ¼, which ultimately ended in 15.2 seconds at 93 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 35-Combined for gasoline only, a number we agree with, and 84-Combined MPGe.
PHEV pricing begins with X-Line at $40,015; adding Prestige takes it to $44,515.
That’s obviously a significant amount of money for a small crossover, so it’s really only your best choice if you can take full advantage of this PHEV’s EV miles as much as possible, though having all of that extra power always on tap will surely appeal to many.
Regardless, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV is another example of Kia’s forward thinking, and results delivering. The Sportage was already a great compact crossover option. Now, the PHEV just makes it one that is totally up, and even a bit ahead, of its time.
- Engine: 1.6-liter turbo-4
- Battery Size: 13.8-kWh
- Torque: 258 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.2 seconds at 93 mph
- EPA: 35 MPG | 84 MPGe
- Electric Motor: 66.9-kW
- Horsepower: 261
- 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
- Electric Range: 34 miles