The 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD is the latest version of Kia’s compact crossover SUV. The mechanical twin of the Hyundai Tucson, it has been moving upmarket since first introduced in 1993. This Crossover fits between the Kia Seltos and the three-row Sorento, but it has been getting larger. Napleton News recently had a chance to spend some time in this new off-road capable ute. Here’s what we thought.
What’s under the Kia Sportage X-Pro Hood?
There are several engine choices that depend on the model and trim level you choose. Standard throughout the lineup is a 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine that delivers 187 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm and 178 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm. It is available with a front or all-wheel drive powertrain that could take you anywhere! The AWD system uses an electro-hydraulic transfer case to direct power to the front or rear wheels.
If your driving habits are more cultured, you can select the Kia Sportage Hybrid with its 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 that’s mated with a 44-kilowatt motor capable of achieving up to 43 mpg. Along the way, it delivers 227 horsepower. A Sportage Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is also available, with a 1.6-liter turbo inline-4 cylinder that produces 177 horsepower. A 66.9-kW electric motor joins it to give 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
In other words, there’s something for everyone.
How does the new Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige look?
Everything on the new Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD is new. It’s available in base LX form and follows with EX, SX, SX Prestige, X-Pro and, like our tester, the Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD. All models are standard with FWD and offer AWD as a $2,000 option. The X-Pro models are standard with AWD.
Highlights on the new Sportage begin with a black graphics-oriented grille that goes full width across the front end. Flank the grille sides with boomerang-shaped daylight running lights (DRL). It has even grown longer. The new Sportage is 7.1 inches longer than the model it replaces. Its wheelbase has stretched 3.4 inches more, adding more legroom for those in the second row.
Side panels feature compound curves that add immense interest to what could have been a relatively flat and uninteresting surface. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. In another case of whimsy, the headlights are mounted below the Sportage’s waistline, adding some interest. Honestly, we wish the headlights were above the fold rather than below.
As an aside, we really like the brushed metal Kia logos found on the hood and rear hatchback of the Sportage.
A Prestigious interior
Passengers will find a futuristic, thoughtfully designed interior made from animal-free leather in Sportage models from the EX onward. The center console offers everything from cupholders to space large enough to accommodate a tablet. Other innovative features include an innovative coat hanger located on the backs of the two front seats. Hang your coat and arrive wrinkle-free, we say. Thanks to heated and ventilated front seats, you can arrive as cool or heated as you please. Trust us. You’ll want to be here.
Upon sitting inside, you’ll first notice the (optional) large curved display that stretches from the door to the other side of the center console. It looks like a single piece of glass, but in actuality, it is two 12.3-inch displays that allow a driver to control nearly every in-car function by touching the screen. The one thing that caused a bit of confusion was the screen display button that toggles between audio and climate controls. It took a while to figure out but once mastered, it allowed occupants to switch back and forth easily.
But the absolute coolest feature in the Sportage is the rearview cameras that project an image of the vehicle’s left or right blindspot when using the turn indicator. The image shows up in the tachometer or speedometer side of the display screen, depending on which way you are turning.
Favorite features of the X-Pro
The Sportage X-Pro and Sportage X-Pro Prestige models are a pair of top-shelf models that are dirt-friendly, but only to a certain degree. It may not be as capable as a Landy or a Jeep Wrangler, but it will come complete with off-road drivetrain settings. An extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance is added to the mix. In addition to the higher ride, that added inch and a half helps to accommodate a set of BFGoodrich all-terrain tires.
Driving the Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD
The Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD offers capable abilities on and off the road. A very smooth operator, it brings decent acceleration for around-town commutes. But the thrill is gone when you step on the skinny pedal, as B.B. King would likely say. We feel it should have the more powerful engine found in the Sportage Hybrid.
Under specific loads, the Sportage’s gearbox reacts like it were a CVT, holding gears longer than we would like. Drivers will quickly realize you need to mash it hard to step down to a lower gear to achieve real acceleration. As an alternative, we spent most of our drive time in Sport mode.
Safety is on board with everything from forward collision warning, lane departure prevention, and blind-spot intervention. We think the lane departure warning is a bit high strung and had us fighting the steering wheel when attempting to change lanes without a turn indicator. Still, the ride quality never wavered. Some of the credit is owed to the large, knobby BFGoodrich off-road tires that helped to smooth things out regardless of where we were headed.
Don’t be quick to discount your interest in the new 2023 Kia Sportage. It’s a stylish, off-road capable compact crossover vehicle. It does all things well. We just wish it did some of them a bit better!
|2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD
|2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-4
|187 hp @ 6,100 rpm
|178 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
|8-speed auto w/AWD
|25 mpg (23 city/28 hwy)
|Strut / Multi-link
|Various trim levels, Hybrid, PHEV
|5 years/60,000 miles
|10 years/100,000 miles
|NHTSA Safety Rating
|Not yet rated
|Max Seating Capacity
|Cargo Room (Behind 1st, 2nd & 3rd row)
|74.1/39.6 Cubic Feet