2023 Kia Sportage
The Sportage Has Grown Up
The Sportage is Kia’s longest-running American nameplate, arriving in the mid-1990s before compact SUVs were really even a thing. Well, as we all know, the Kia brand has grown a lot since then, and so has the Sportage. So, let’s check out this 5th-gen Sportage, and see how much more it offers to reel in today’s savvy crossover buyers.
The Sportage has grown up. That’s the best way to sum up this 2023 Kia Sportage. It not only looks much larger than before, but every exterior dimension of this compact utility has indeed increased. It’s more than 7-inches longer than before, with a wheelbase stretch of 3.4-inches; height and width grow less dramatically, both by about half an inch. All helping it transform from one of the smallest vehicles in the compact utility segment to one of the largest.
It looks more mature too, with Kia’s tiger nose grille taking on a “floating” design, bookended by unique daytime running lights. Hybrids come with 17-inch wheels, but these 18s are an option. That larger size allows for 39.5 cubic-ft. of rear cargo space, which compares favorably with many midsize utilities; max capacity with seatbacks folded is 73.7 cubic-ft.
It also feels more stable too, with a ride quality that’s very smooth for a small SUV; quite comfortable as well; some staffers declaring it was even more comfy and spacious feeling inside than Kia’s midsize Sorento. Adding to the airy feel is an enormous panoramic sunroof.
There’s plenty of glass on the dash as well; side-by-side 12-inch screens for instrumentation and infotainment. Just below the central screen is a panel with a mix of traditional and touch controls for climate and the radio, which in top SX-Prestige trim is a Harmon/Kardon 8-speaker premium system. Thoughtful placement of the multiple storage nooks with USB ports for charging adds greatly to overall usability. Rear seat passengers get some of the best legroom in the compact class, along with reclining seatbacks.
Standard engine for the new Sportage is a 187-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4. But we highly recommend stepping up to this Hybrid; its combined 1.6-liter turbo I4 and 44-kW electric motor are truly a best of both worlds scenario, delivering 40 additional horsepower, 80 more lb-ft. torque, and better fuel economy. Kia even gives you a tried and true 6-speed automatic transmission. On top of all that, the hybrid powertrain just feels much more responsive, and allows more than 500-miles of driving on a tank of gas.
You can still get all-wheel-drive too, which comes with tweaked suspension to add an additional inch of ride height; though it does impact fuel economy quite a bit. Government Fuel Economy Ratings with all-wheel-drive are 38 across the board for City, Highway, and Combined. We got close with a 36.5 miles-per-gallon average on Regular. The front drive version’s Combined rating is 43.
For numbers of a different kind, it was off to Mason Dixon Dragway.
After launching strictly on battery power, the gas engine quickly kicks in. The tach sweeps past 3,000 RPM, and you can really feel some power coming on. We hit 60 in 7.7-seconds, a quite acceptable result for a mainstream compact SUV.
That 6-speed transmission that we very much appreciated in daily use felt a little clunky here at the track; and this little turbo tends to sound more whiney than pleasing. But ultimately, the ¼-mile run is fairly smooth and uneventful; completed in a quite good 15.8-seconds at 90 miles-per-hour. Being based on Hyundai-Kia’s midsize N3 platform pays major dividends when it comes to handling.
The Hybrid adds $1,300 to a base Sportage LX, putting it at $28,585; all-wheel-drive adds $1,800 more. The Hybrid is only available in LX, EX, and SX-Prestige trims; topping out at $37,485. A plug-in hybrid with up to 32-miles of EV range will soon join the party.
The Sportage has played a major role in the Kia story from the very beginning; and it seems we’re really getting to the good part of the book where the main characters go through major transformations that impact where the story goes from here. The Chronicles of Kia are far from their conclusion, but the 2023 Kia Sportage is the plot twist we’ve all been waiting for, and will certainly have us anticipating what’s to come next.
- Engine: 2.5L I4 | 1.6L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 187 | 227
- Torque: 178 lb-ft | 258 lb-ft
- 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 15.8 seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 38 combined (AWD) | 43 combined (FWD)
- 60-0 Braking: 116 feet (avg)
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient
Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain in just about everything they make, so it did seem odd that last year, when they debuted an all-new SUV version of their long-time best-selling Corolla, a hybrid was nowhere to be found. Well, it didn’t take long for Toyota to correct that situation, delivering this Corolla Cross Hybrid for 2023.
With prices for everything seemingly going up daily, we can all use a little more cost efficiency in our lives. That’s a mission that Toyota has been undertaking for some time now and continues to do it with this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Alabama-built Corolla Cross arrived just last year as Toyota’s attempt to bring their best-selling nameplate into the SUV era, and give them an additional entry into the most popular automotive segment going right now, small crossovers.
There are some RAV4 styling cues here, but the Corolla Cross is mostly its own deal, and the Hybrid is more than just a fuel efficient option, it has added performance too. So, it’s offered only in Toyota’s S line of trims S, SE, and XSE, where the standard Corolla Cross is available in base L, LE, and XLE.
There are some differences outside, most notably unique front and rear fasicas; the front with a much more aggressive look, with larger grille and blacked-out trim.
Black trim and logos in back too, along with a redesigned bumper; plus, you can optionally go 2-tone by adding black paint to the roof.
Great packaging has it feeling roomier inside than most small 5-seat utes, straddling the line between subcompact and compact. And seats are way more comfortable than your typical urban-minded utility.
In fact, the entire interior feels quite upscale, and the layout will be very familiar to those stepping up from an actual Corolla.
Those who put off buying a Corolla Cross until now will be rewarded with upgraded infotainment, as all Hybrid’s will come with Toyota’s latest 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system standard.
The Hybrid’s small battery is located under the rear seat, so there’s minimal loss of rom, with a good 21.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space available; expanding to 61.8 with rear seatbacks folded.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel-sipping ways are courtesy of the 5th generation of Toyota’s Hybrid System which outputs a combined 196-horsepower through its trio of electric motors and naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine. One of those motors operating strictly the rear axle for standard all-wheel-drive.
At our test track, there was a nice little chirp of the tires off the line, but that’s where the excitement ended.
So while a 7.5-second trip to 60 may not raise your blood pressure, it’s a full 3-seconds quicker than the standard Corolla Cross we tested last year. We’ll take that!
CVT automatic means engine revs and engine noise both hang relatively high throughout the whole ¼-mile, which took us 15.6-seconds to complete, finishing at a reasonable 90 miles-per-hour.
The Hybrid also gets a “sport-tuned” suspension, and indeed it felt light and nimble through our cone course, very neutral too, with no noticeable understeer or oversteer. Steering was light but still provided good feedback. With some grippier tires, this would certainly give the best handlers in the segment a run for their money.
But the real reward comes in Government Fuel Economy Ratings which are 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined. We averaged a great 43.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular; that’s a 40% increase over the 30.9 miles-per-gallon we averaged in the standard Corolla Cross last year.
But, that does come at a cost, though it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with separate trim families, but pricing starts at $29,320 for the Hybrid, about 3-grand over a base all-wheel-drive non-hybrid. Top XSE comes in at $32,400.
As influential as Toyota is in spreading the hybrid doctrine, it was indeed odd that the Corolla Cross arrived last year without a hybrid option. Smartly, it didn’t take them long to right that wrong, as it was always part of the plan, and the Corolla Cross has benefitted from it greatly. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is not just more efficient, it’s more capable, and a much better small utility all around.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 196
- 0-60 mph: 7.5-seconds
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.3 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: e-CVT
- Torque: 139 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined