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2023 Kia Sportage: 5 things to know

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This year isn’t over yet, and as we all look toward the incoming 2022 model years, Kia is jumping ahead to the 2023 model year with the reveal of the new Sportage.

This is a major overhaul for the compact SUV, and the changes go well beyond the looks. But with an all-new front fascia and grille, it’s clear to see that this is a full redesign, not just a refresh. In fact, the new boomerang-shaped daytime running lights will be one of the first things you notice on the 2023 Sportage.

Honestly, this dramatic design change was necessary as Kia has to differentiate itself not only from a crowded and competitive segment but also from the Seltos. Thanks to the redesign and a new architecture, the Sportage  has gone from one of the smallest SUVs in its class to one of the largest.

Sportage grows up

You can’t talk about the new Sportage without immediately noticing the increase in size. This is a big deal for Kia, and it’s all thanks the N3 platform, which it will share with the Sorento.

The Sportage isn’t just a little bigger, it’s a lot bigger with an overall length increase of 7.1 inches compared to the previous generation. Plus, the wheelbase increases by 3.4 inches, and it is both taller and wider by a half inch.

Kia hopes this iteration of the Sportage will help it re-establish its footing in the segment while also giving it distinction from the smaller Seltos. Kia proclaims that the 2023 Sportage will have class-leading rear legroom with 41.3 inches and best-in-class rear cargo with 39.6 cubic feet of space. The 2022 Sportage has 30.7 cubic feet of cargo room, so clearly the increase is significant.

X marks the spot

The Sportage will continue with the same trims: LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, but will add two new trims to the 2023 model year lineup – X-Line and X-Pro. The latter two trims will add a more rugged facade, with an all-wheel drive only powertrain, 1.5 inches of increased ground clearance, all-terrain tires and a multi-terrain driving system.

Sportage X-Pro (which includes the X-Pro Prestige) has the following exclusive options:

  • B.F. Goodrich all-terrain tires
  • 17-inch matte black off-road wheels
  • LED fog lights and available LED Projector headlights
  • Heated windshield and wiper washer nozzle
  • Multi-terrain drive modes with Normal, Sport, Smart and Snow modes
  • Available two-tone roof
  • Ventilated front seats
  • 8-way power front passenger seat

Sportage X-Line is a step up on the rugged scale and adds the following exclusive options:

  • Unique front and rear bumpers with a satin chrome surround create a tougher image, complemented by side garnish
  • Side mirrors, roof rack and window surrounds finished in gloss black for a sportier look
  • Raised roof rack rails to support adventure ready accessories
  • Exclusive 19-inch wheels

More driver-assistance tech

Today’s vehicles are chock full of driver assistance technology. Some we like more than others. Kia says the 2023 Sportage will be its most advanced yet with technologies like high-beam assist, lane following assistance, lane keep assist and forward collision warning.

We especially like the high-beam assist which automatically dim the headlights when an oncoming or leading vehicle is detected.

Kia also places a new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) into the 2023 Sportage. According to Kia, this system analyzes the driver’s attention level and provides a warning if a break is recommended. It will also provide a leading vehicle departure alert, if the leading vehicle departs from a stop and the driver does not react within a certain time period.

More power, more fuel efficient

Kia is offering the 2023 Sportage with a more powerful engine. Since it will be bigger and heavier, the previous engine would’ve likely been too sluggish. As such, there’s a new 2.5-liter I-4 engine, which has a targeted horsepower of 187, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but AWD is optional.

In addition to the increase in horsepower, Kia is targeting an 8% increase in fuel economy for the Sportage, although EPA ratings are not available.

Kia also hinted at an upcoming electrified option for the Sportage. We’ve already seen the 2022 Niro EV, and we know a plug-in hybrid version of the Sorento is coming. So, we’ll be interested in seeing which direction Sportage goes: full EV or PHEV — or both.

“While Kia moves purposefully toward electrification, we are further strengthening the Sportage lineup by adding a variety of options suited for all different kinds of customers,” said Sean Yoon, president and CEO, Kia America, Kia North America. “The tremendous success formula of our current stable of SUVs has been infused into every ounce of the new Sportage, transforming it into a leader of the pack with its cutting-edge design, adventurous capability and desirable in-car technology.”

Made in America

Kia has been making a big push to manufacture its vehicles in the United States. So, the 2023 Sportage will join the Telluride, Sorento and K5 and be assembled at the West Point, Georgia, facility.

The bottom line on the 2023 Kia Sportage

When Kia dropped the Seltos into its product line, it muddied the waters internally and also muddied a crowded segment. The redesigned 2023 Kia Sportage helps to clear things up and challenges other competitors in the segment with an SUV that has significantly more space. That’s never a bad thing.

I like the look of the front end, and those boomerang-like headlights are flashy. What do you think about them? Leave your comments below.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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