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2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid marks the first electrified model for the nameplate

2021 AutoMobility LA / LA Auto Show

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid has officially debuted at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show marking the first time the nameplate gets an electrified model. Like the standard internal combustion model, the U.S. spec model will be of the long-wheelbase variety, which is 7.1 inches longer than the previous generation in terms of overall length thanks to a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase. The new Sportage Hybrid is also 0.5 inches taller than the outgoing crossover.

Riding on Hyundai Motor Group’sN3 architecture, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is closely related to the Sorento, K5, and Hyundai’s Tucson, Sonata, and Santa Fe. The new underpinnings promise better driving dynamics, thanks to improved torsional stiffness and tensile strength courtesy of more extensive use of hot-stamped and ultra-high-strength steel parts. Kia also says the cabin is quieter thanks to the addition of more sound absorption materials and insulation.

Like the global-spec model, the U.S.-spec Sportage Hybrid features the same imposing new look with angular LED daytime running lights and headlights integrated with the grille. It blends curves with angles frequently to get to that distinct look. The Sportage Hybrid also gets unique 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels and hybrid badging to hint at its electrified nature.

Inside, the 2023 Sportage Hybrid is available with a full helping of the latest tech and driver assistance features. You can get two 12.3-inch displays housed under a single piece of curved glass. Other available multimedia options include a Harman Kardon audio system a surround-view camera, wireless charging, and Bluetooth that can connect multiple devices.

On the driver assistance front, the Sportage Hybrid gets driver attention warning, forward collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, cyclist detection, pedestrian, detection, rear occupant alert, automatic high beams, and lane-keeping assist, as standard. You can further upgrade the suite to include forward collision warning and front automatic emergency braking that works at junctions, rear automatic emergency braking, safe exit warning, blind-spot monitoring, and Highway Driving Assist, Kia’s semi-autonomous driving assistance system.

The 2023 Sportage Hybrid uses the same powertrain as the Sorento Hybrid, Tucson Hybrid, and Santa Fe Hybrid. That means it couples a 1.6-liter turbo-four with a 1.49-kWh lithium-ion battery, a 44-kW electric motor, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The estimated combined output is 226 hp. FWD models are expected to get 39 mpg on the EPA combined cycle. The maximum towing capacity is 2,000 pounds. Active AWD is optional in the LX grade and standard on the EX and SX Prestige models. It uses the electric motor to shuffle power around and improve the Sportage Hybrid’s handling. Since it’s a mechanical unit, the system also has a center lock function to improve traction on varying road conditions.

On sale early next year, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid marks the seventh electrified vehicle joining the Korean brand’s lineup. It follows the two electrified Sorento models and the EV6, all of which are part of Kia’s Plan S strategy. In other markets, the Sportage will also be offered as a plug-in hybrid with a larger 13.8-kWh battery mounted under the passenger compartment and a 99-hp electric motor. That model makes 261 hp combined, an increase of 35 hp over the standard hybrid. The larger battery should also enable it to travel over 30 miles in all-electric mode. Kia hasn’t announced whether that’s coming to the U.S. or not but the likely answer is the former, considering it brought the Sorento PHEV here for the 2022 model year. Like its larger sibling, the Sportage PHEV could only be offered in upper trims when it arrives here.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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