One thing that can be said about the all-new 2023 Kia Sportage is its space-age styling is far from conservative. The reimagined compact crossover emerges appearing like a completely different beast and for the first time introduces a slightly more rugged (looking) X-Line model. Here’s how the latest offering stacks up.
“The Sportage is entering its most exciting generation yet,” says Kia Canada COO Elias El-Achhab in a press release. “We can’t wait for Canadians to experience this completely redesigned SUV that is not only a cut above when it comes to design, innovation and technology, but it is also an absolute thrill to drive.”
Gone is the traditional headlamp and tiger nose grille. The setup is replaced by a cluster of LEDS nestled inside boomerang-shaped signature daytime running lights, flanking a dominating 3-D mesh grille spanning the width of the front fascia. Bold sheet metal creases run down the side continuing around the back where a pair of “notch” taillights remain connected via a thin black bar running across the tailgate.
Visibly larger measuring over 180 millimetres longer than the outgoing vehicle and nearly 13 millimetres taller and wider, the X-Line is particularly attractive with the exclusive chunky lower bumper garnishes, dark gloss side mirrors, ladder-style roof rails and two-tone 19-inch wheels. The Jungle Green paint colour on our media loaner suited the utility-focused accoutrements quite nicely.
The Sportage, particularly in the Limited grade is more premium than expected for the segment featuring hydro-dipped wood dash trim and quilted-centre leather seating. Kia’s decision to continue using an ergonomic T-shaped shift lever is a nice touch amid a sea of rotary and button-type transmission selectors.
Climate control is integrated into the dual 12.3-inch instrument gauge and infotainment display, the latter which is beautiful and responsive however navigating radio stations is a bit of a pain especially with the absence of a physical volume or tuning knob.
While both hybrid and plug-in hybrid options are available on the platform, the X-Line utilizes the 2.5-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive is standard. Producing 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque there is no pretense of high performance here and fuel economy, at an observed 11.9 L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving, is pretty decent for AWD.
Speaking of which the intelligent AWD is proficient at detecting wheel slippage, sending the proper amount of torque to the rear axle as necessary. Even in rainy Vancouver the SUV remained stable at relatively high speeds, and though the system may very well be proficient on low traction trails, the ride height is no different from the other variants making off-roading a potentially risky venture.
Safety-wise the vehicle is fully loaded and equipped with a plethora of driver assistance equipment including Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Follow Assist and the excellent Blind View Monitor that shows a live video feed of activity beside the car whenever the turn signal is activated.
The 2023 Kia Sportage X-Line starts at $40,995 MSRP.
Highlights (as tested)
Motor: 2.5-litre four cylinder
Horsepower: 187 @ 6,100 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 178 @ 4,000 rpm
Gearbox: eight-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 11.9 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)