2023 Kia Sportage revealed: Big upgrades for a key SUV

Kia has revealed its latest SUV, with the 2023 Sportage promising to combine the distinctive style of the automaker's recent models with an uptick in tech and comfort. The newest iteration of what's actually Kia's longest-running nameplate, the 2023 Sportage will initially be offered only in internal combustion form, but the company promises electrification is in the pipeline.

Outside, the redesigned Sportage borrows cues from other recent Kia launches, like the Telluride and K5. The "tiger nose" grille has more detail, with a blacked-out graphic running across the entire front fascia. It's bracketed by "boomerang" daytime running lights with sharp curves.

Angular fenders continue that stylized look, as does a rising shoulder line. At the rear, there are new "notch" taillights. Kia says the 2023 Sportage is now 7.1 inches longer than its predecessor, with 3.4 inches of that going into the wheelbase. It's also a half-inch taller and wider.

Under the sheet metal is Kia's N3 platform, as already used on the latest-generation Sorento. That means more hot-stamped parts and more ultra-high-strength steel, for a stiffer chassis, together with an uptick in sound absorption for a quieter cabin. Initially there'll be a single engine, Kia's new 2.5-liter I-4 with a targeted 187 horsepower and an 8-speed automatic.

It'll be offered with both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the latter adding 1.5 inches more ground clearance over the outgoing Sportage. The AWD system has an electro-hydraulic coupling in its center-locking differential, so that power can be optionally routed to the rear wheels for traction, or disconnected for economy.

Eventually, Kia says, there'll be a hybrid Sportage, among other powertrains. However, we'll have to wait a little longer for details on those.

Inside, as with the exterior, the cabin gets an improvement in style and equipment. There's more legroom than before, and more cargo space, with 39.6 cu-ft in the trunk and a dual-level cargo floor. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all trims, with a new touchpad with climate and audio controls for those who like physical controls.

Options include a dual panoramic curved display, with twin 12.3-inch screens, animal-free leather on EX trim and above, and optional 360-degree camera and a Harman Kardon audio system. Wireless charging is also available, as is Kia Connect, the company's WiFi hotspot and remote app control system. Kia is making a fuss over the smaller design details, too, with features like molded-in coat hooks that also hide USB ports, cup holders that can be opened into table holders, and more.

For safety, all trims get LED headlights, lane-following assist, lane-keeping assist, forward collision avoidance with cyclist detection, rear view monitoring, and reverse parking sensors. Options include blind-spot view monitor, blind-spot collision avoidance assist with parallel exit, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, forward collision avoidance with junction turning capability, forward parking sensors, and Kia's Highway Driving Assist which combines adaptive cruise control and lane keeping.

There'll be multiple trims, including LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige and X-Line; Kia is also adding the 2023 Sportage X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige trims to the range as well. They'll have AWD as standard, SynTex synthetic leather seats, unique bumpers, gloss black exterior trim, and raise roof rack rails. The X-Line will have special 19 inch wheels, while the X-Pro has 17-inch matte black off-road wheels with B.F. Goodrich all-terrain tires.

It also gets LED fog lights, available LED projector headlights, a heated windshield and wiper washers, two-tone roof option, and multi-terrain drive modes with Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow settings. The X-Pro Prestige gets ventilated front seats, a power front passenger seat, and the LED projector lights as standard.

All in all, it's a big update for what's one of Kia's most important models: second in US SUV sales, indeed, to Telluride. Kia says the 2022 Sportage will be arriving in dealerships – in gas form, at least – in the US in Q1 2022. The hybrid version will follow on later.