2023 Kia Sportage PHEV Review

To say Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis have been pushing the design envelope would be an understatement. All three sister companies have been producing some striking designs in their latest vehicles (vehicles like the Kia EV6, Ioniq 5, Genesis G70, and more), showing us what is possible rather than following the herd with aerodynamically efficient cars that don’t do much for the senses. The latest designs might not be for everyone, but I do commend the Korean trio for daring to be bold.

The Kia Sportage is the latest vehicle to receive a full redesign, featuring a striking design that looks nothing like the vehicle it replaces. I reviewed the previous 4th generation Sportage, which was an okay-looking CUV, but the new one is radically different and fashion-forward.

The Kia Sportage has been on sale since 1993 in markets worldwide; it made its North American debut for the 2010 model year. Kia introduced the 5th generation Sportage in 2022 as a 2023 model year. The 5th generation Sportage gets a PHEV variant, a first for the Sportage.

2023 Kia Sportage Canadian Prices

The 2023 Kia Sportage comes in various trims, with prices starting at $28,795 for the base LX FWD trim and topping out at $41,595 for the X-Line Limited trim in the gasoline one versions. Below is a price list of all the gasoline-only trims of the Sportage:

Sportage LX FWD$28,795
Sportage LX$30,795
Sportage X-Line$34,395
Sportage EX$36,095
Sportage EX Premium$38,195
Sportage X-Line Limited$41,595

The Sportage Hybrids and PHEVs have starting prices of $36,495 for the HEV EX and top out at Sportage PHEV SX at $48,995; these prices do not include Freight & PDI of $2,549. Below is a list of prices for all the hybrid/plug-in hybrid variants of the 2023 Kia Sportage:

Sportage HEV EX$36,495
Sportage HEV SX$43,195
Sportage PHEV EX Premium$45,595
Sportage PHEV SX$48,995

Our review car had a price tag of $45,595; the only option it came with was the $250 Gravity Grey paint. The Kia Sportage PHEV qualifies for the $5,000 Federal iZEV program incentive and provincial incentives depending on your province of residence.

2023 Kia Sportage Engines

All trims of the gasoline-only Kia Sportage CUVs are powered by 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engines, producing 187 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 178 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels on the LX FWD trim and all four wheels on every other trim via an 8-speed automatic transmission. According to Kia, all trims should consume 10.4/8.5/9.5 liters/100 kilometers in the city/highway/combined driving.

The Sportage Hybrid and PHEV are equipped with 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engines. This engine produces 177 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 195 pound-feet of torque between 1,500 – 4,500 rpm. These two vehicles also come with electric motors and batteries, a larger battery in the case of the Sportage PHEV. The electric motor on the Sportage hybrid produces 69 horsepower between 1,600 – 2,000 rpm and 195 pound-feet of torque between 0 – 2,100 rpm. The electric motor on the Sportage PHEV produces 89.7 horsepower between 2,100 – 3.300 rpm and 225 pound-feet of torque between 0 – 2,100 rpm.

The combined power produced by both propulsion systems is 227 hp and 258 lb-ft on the Sportage HEV and 261 HP and 258 lb-ft on the Sportage PHEV. Both versions are all-wheel drive and use 6-speed automatic transmissions, making them feel much more like conventional gasoline vehicles because Kia isn’t using a CVT.

The Sportage HEV is rated at 6.1/6.3/6.2 L/100 km in city/highway/combined driving. The Sportage PHEV’s combined consumption (gasoline/electric) is 2.7/3.0/2.8 Le/100 km. However, when the batteries are fully depleted, the gasoline-only consumption is 6.6/6.7/6.7 L/100 km.

The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV is equipped with a 13.8 kWh battery pack. Charging the Sportage PHEV takes about 11 hours on a regular 120-volt standard household outlet, from 10 – 100%. A level 2 (240-volt) outlet does the same thing in 2 hours. The Sportage PHEV is not compatible with Level 3 charging. The estimated all-electric driving range is 55 kilometers, which will vary depending on weather conditions and driving style.

Driving the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV

Since the average Canadian commute is less than the claimed range of 55 kilometers, most people will almost never need to use fuel, in theory. My daily commute is around 35 kilometers on average, reaching 50 kilometers on some days, so theoretically, I didn’t need to use gasoline during the week I had the Sportage PHEV because I was able to fully charge the batteries overnight.

In real life, things were a bit different. On most days, when fully charged, the onboard computer did show a range of 53 – 55 kilometers, even in winter conditions. The week I had the Sportage, temperatures ranged from 0 – 9 Celsius, which may not be considered cold in the rest of Canada, but it was plenty cold for Vancouver.

Driving in these conditions, the gasoline engine doesn’t need to turn on at all, but at the cost of being extremely uncomfortable because I didn’t turn on the heater. Cabin heaters are usually the Achilles heel of electric cars; as soon as I would turn on the heater, the gasoline engine would come to life, no matter how full the batteries were. This issue is not specific to the Kia Sportage only; so far, every PHEV I’ve reviewed (with the exception of the Volvo XC60 PHEV) has the same issue. I believe these vehicles don’t come with heat pumps, which is what I’m assuming the XC60 PHEV had.

However, when the batteries are fully charged, and the cabin heater is on, the gasoline engine acts as a generator and sends power to charge the batteries without driving the wheels. The engine hovers at 1,200 or 1,400 rpm while it’s doing this. Because of this, it was hard to get a good estimate of how far a fully charged battery on the Kia Sportage PHEV will take you. I drove approximately 250 kilometers in the week I had the Sportage. The onboard computer showed gasoline consumption of 1.9 liters/100 kilometers in about 65/35 highway/city driving (I charged the batteries every night). This is still pretty good, and in the summer months, the gasoline engine won’t turn on as much; it’ll still turn on once in a while to keep the engine’s oils moving.

Driving the Sportage PHEV is a nice experience; the power delivery is smooth, and the cabin is quiet. Even when the engine is on to heat the cabin, there isn’t much noise coming into the cabin. The 90 HP electric motor does a good enough job at keeping up with city traffic or highway traffic; however, putting it into Sport mode, which turns on the gasoline engine and provides maximum power, is quite fun. The Sportage is properly fast in the Sport mode, which should be good for passing on hilly highways.

In the full hybrid mode, where the engine turns on and off, depending on whether you’re accelerating or decelerating, the turning on and off of the engine is quite smooth and doesn’t require any thought from the driver. Because Kia uses a traditional 6-speed automatic, even in the hybrid mode, the Sportage doesn’t feel like a traditional boring hybrid. I’m sure a CVT would reduce Sportage’s fuel consumption, but it would make it soul-crushingly numb to drive.

2023 Kia Sportage Styling

2023 Kia Sportage PHEV Front

The styling on the new 5th generation Sportage is a huge departure from the 4th generation Sportage. The 4th generation looked like an economy CUV (not that there’s anything wrong with that); the new 5th generation Sportage has a much more premium look. I called the design on the 4th generation Sportage “non-offensive”; it just blended in; the 5th generation Sportage can’t be mistaken for another car. The design is really bold and attracts attention, some conservative buyers might not like that, but most people I talked to liked the looks of the new 2023 Sportage.

The biggest design feature that attracts a lot of attention is the front-end design, which features boomerang-style daytime running lights. It also reminds me of an X with a grill in the middle of the two parts of the X. If there’s a new X-Men movie, I think the Sportage should be the X-Men’s family vehicle, perfect for going to the grocery stores, dropping kids off at school, and other stuff families do, before being called to action to save the world from Magneto.

2023 Kia Sportage PHEV Side

The headlights and fog lights are placed on the inside of the DRLs. A rather large grill between the lights, but it blends in quite nicely. The side profile features some curves and sharp lines with piano black material over the wheel arches and bottom parts of the doors. The same piano black material blends into the bottom of the rear bumper, featuring silver trim. The taillights are quite sharp looking; again, you won’t mistake the Sportage for another car from the rear.

Our review car came with 19” wheels, smaller 17” wheels are standard on lower levels. The charge port on the Sportage PHEV is placed on the passenger side, while the gasoline port is on the driver’s side. The gasoline door is opened by pressing a button on the dashboard, which is a reminder that you’re opening the gasoline door and don’t mistakenly stick the electric plug into the gas tank.

2023 Kia Sportage PHEV Taillights

I like the overall design of the Sportage; I think it looks fresh and looks different from other CUVs.

2023 Kia Sportage Interior

The interior of the previous generation Kia Sportage wasn’t as “economy car” as the exterior; it looked pretty good. However, the interior of the 5th generation Sportage steps things up a lot. This interior may look familiar to car lovers because the design borrows heavily from the Kia EV6 electric car. I was a fan of the EV6’s interior, which looks just at home on the Sportage.

2023 Kia Sportage PHEV interior

The interior has a premium look and features the massive curved 12” touchscreen that blends into the digital gauge cluster. The graphics on these screens are crisp and quick to respond to the touch. All the information is laid out in an easy-to-understand manner.

Like the EV6, the Sportage has another screen below the big screen. This screen controls the climate features and can switch to radio and short keys to navigation and other features by pressing a small section of the screen. Below this section is a small storage area with a cover housing 12V, USB-A, and USB-C outlets and a wireless charging pad. The center console features the engine stop/start button, a rotary knob gear selector, buttons for the heated/cooled seats, and the heated steering wheel. Below this section are the buttons and a knob for driving modes, parking sensors, cameras, and auto-hold.

The interior is a good mix of hard and soft-touch plastics. The interior is quiet and comfortable. I found more than enough room for my 5’ 8/9” frame in the front and rear seats with room to spare. The headroom is good in the front and the rear.

Tech, safety, etc

The Korean trio of Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis don’t skimp on available tech, safety, and convenience features. The 2023 Kia Sportage is no exception, it comes standard with a long list of features, and our review car had even more of these features. Below is a list of some of the features of our review car:

  • LED lights
  • Solar glass
  • Heated windshield
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Acoustic laminated windshield
  • Projection LED headlights
  • Heated/Cooled front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Keyless entry
  • Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
  • Cruise control
  • Memory Driver Seat
  • Power adjustable passenger’s seat
  • Heated rear seats
  • Interior LED Lighting
  • 12.3″ multimedia interface with integrated navigation
  • Ambient mood lighting
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Smart cruise control (SCC)
  • Smart Key & Push Button Start
  • Remote engine start
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Rear-View Camera with Dynamic Parking Guidelines
  • Bluetooth
  • 12.3″ Supervision LCD/TFT instrument cluster
  • Harman Kardon premium audio system
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Electronic stability control (ESC)
  • Hill-assist control (HAC)
  • Downhill brake control (DBC)
  • Trailer stability assist (TSA)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • Advanced forward collision-avoidance assist (FCA)
  • Lane Keep Assist System (LKA)
  • Lane Follow Assist (LFA)
  • Blind-spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA)
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCAA)
  • Rear Seat Occupant Alert
  • Rear Parking Collision Avoidance Assist
  • Highway Drive Assist (HDA)
  • Blind-spot view monitor
  • Around view monitor (AVM)
  • Front and Rear Parking Sensors
  • Remote Smart Park Assist

Final Thoughts on the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV

The 2023 Kia Sportage is a great-looking SUV; it’s comfortable, equipped with many features, and can be used as a gasoline-powered car or a plug-in hybrid. Our plug-in hybrid performed well, with minimal gasoline usage. I wish Kia would put in a heat pump so gasoline usage could be minimized even further, especially in winter.

Overall, I was pleased with the vehicle and enjoyed my time with it. Please visit Kia Canada’s website for more information on the Sportage and other Kia vehicles.

2023 Kia Sportage Review Photo Gallery




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Faisal is the cofounder and automotive photographer at Unfinished Man. He provides insider perspectives on the latest rides through his acclaimed photography. Faisal also serves as the site's watch expert, staying on the pulse of emerging timepieces. His seasoned eye for men's lifestyle products makes him an authoritative voice.

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