The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is making a grand entrance at this year’s LA Auto Show. The newest Sportage Hybrid is the latest variant of the all-new, fifth-gen Sportage introduced a while back, and it’s packing a similar hybrid powertrain as its Tucson Hybrid cousin. However, the Sportage Hybrid has a couple of tricks up its sleeve to deliver a sportier and more engaging driving experience.
The newest Sportage Hybrid has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with gasoline direct injection. The electrics consist of a 44 kW permanent magnet electric motor and a high-output 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Kia claims a combined output of 226 horsepower, a 2,000 lb. towing capacity, up to 39 mpg (FWD models), and more than 500 miles of driving range with a single full tank of gas. Additionally, Kia said the new Sportage Hybrid emits 40-percent fewer CO2 emissions than the outgoing model.
Yes, the Sportage Hybrid is available in front-wheel-drive (FWD) or with Kia’s Active AWD system with a center locking differential and E-handling to deliver tenacious grip. But whereas the Tucson Hybrid has a CVT gearbox, the Sportage Hybrid has a six-speed automatic transmission with a rotary-style shift knob and paddle shifters. CVT transmissions are great for fuel economy, but a proper six-speed shifter is more responsive to pedal inputs.
“The new Sportage Hybrid SUV marks yet another step in Kia’s advance on sustainable mobility, as part of our global ‘Plan S’ efforts,” said Sean Yoon, president and CEO, Kia America, Kia North America. If you remember, Kia unveiled its Plan S roadmap towards electrification last February. The South Korean automaker is targetting 40-percent of eco-friendly sales within the decade by offering up to 11 electrified models in its lineup by 2026.
The 2022 Kia Sportage Hybrid will arrive in three available trims: LX, EX, and SX-Prestige. Kia claims the new Sportage Hybrid has gone from one of the smallest to the largest SUVs in the segment, and they’re not kidding. The fifth-gen Sportage has grown 7.1-inches longer than the outgoing variant, and it has a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase. It’s also taller and wider than before, enabling it to offer up to 41.3-inches of rear legroom and 637-liters of cargo room behind the rear seats. In addition, it offers a dual-level cargo floor.
From a styling perspective, the Sportage Hybrid bears similar “Opposites United” design cues as its gas-only brethren. It has a similar floating tiger-nose grille with distinctive boomerang daytime running lights, angular fenders, a rakish roofline, and strong shoulder lines. Of course, the hybrid model gets the requisite HEV badging to distinguish it from the rest. Base models get unique 17-inch wheels, while more significant 18-inch rollers are standard in the EX and SX-Prestige.
Meanwhile, Kia adds the Sportage Hybrid’s interior is “inspired by high-end outdoor products, furniture, and modern architecture.” It has a premium dashboard with shapely air vents and an available dual panoramic curved display for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. The latter combines a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen under a single, curved glass panel like in an expensive German saloon or SUV. It also has a new touchpad with climate and audio controls below the infotainment display like a regular Sportage.
As expected, Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the range. Kia Connect offers a Wi-Fi hotspot with 4G LTE, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and over-the-air map updates with cloud-based routing if you want more connectivity options. And for the first time in five generations, the Sportage Hybrid is available with a 360-degree surround-view monitor with 3D view.
On the safety front, the 2022 Sportage Hybrid has standard lane-keeping and lane-following assist, driver attention warning, forward collision avoidance, rear occupant alert, high-beam assist (with LED headlights), and a rearview monitor. New to Sportage are an optional array of advanced driving aids like blind-spot collision avoidance, blind-spot view monitoring, and navigation-based cruise control, to mention a few.
The 2022 Kia Sportage Hybrid is arriving at dealerships early next year as a 2023 model, right about the same time as the non-hybrid Sportage. Pricing and other details will follow soon.