Boomerang-shaped daytime running lights are a standout feature of the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid compact SUV. (Kia)

Boomerang-shaped daytime running lights are a standout feature of the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid compact SUV. (Kia)

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid just might have it all

The compact SUV delivers the goods on desirable qualities.

Among compact SUVs, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is one of the most eager to please, delivering the goods on desirable qualities. It’s a new model for 2023.

There are three trim levels: LX, EX, and SX-Prestige. The LX has standard front-wheel drive with all-wheel-drive available for an extra $1,800. EX and SX-Prestige are exclusively AWD.

Base pricing is $27,290 for a front-drive LX; $30,990 for the EX; and $36,190 for the SX-Prestige. These figures do not include the destination charge of $1,295.

The Sportage Hybrid powertrain provides a zippy 227 horsepower, and gas-guzzling is not involved. EPA ratings for AWD are 38 mpg for city, highway and combined driving. The LX with front-wheel drive kicks it up to 42 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 43 mpg combined.

Sportage Hybrid styling is sharp and classy, inside and out.

I drove the SX-Prestige, the top-tier model that embellishes the well-equipped LX and very-well-equipped EX with every other item available on the Sportage Hybrid.

A large digital display for the multimedia interface is the focal point inside the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid compact SUV. (Kia)

A large digital display for the multimedia interface is the focal point inside the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid compact SUV. (Kia)

The Harman Kardon premium audio system was stellar, and there were so many driver-assistance features, I couldn’t have had more assistance if I just let someone else do the driving.

The Sportage Hybrid cabin is serene and sophisticated, with highly comfortable seats upholstered in animal-free better-than-leather SynTex material. (For the record, the steering wheel is wrapped in leather on the EX and SX-Prestige, but not on the LX. And the LX has cloth seats rather than SynTex.) Generous amounts of passenger room are provided around both rows of seats.

In a move away from the norm, there’s a touch control beneath the infotainment display that “toggles” between the climate system and the stereo system, rather than having them displayed at the same time. Not praiseworthy, in my experience.

The Sportage Hybrid ride is gentle under all circumstances. That’s not to say it’s floaty and boring to drive; there’s enough spunk to keep it interesting.

On the ever-important cargo front, Sportage Hybrid has a vast rear cargo area. Even with the back seats in their upright position, 39.5 cubic feet of space is available. Pop up the rear liftgate and the opening is big, wide, and nearly perfectly square, almost like Kia designers wanted the Sportage Hybrid to have the best compact SUV cargo area ever.

They even thought to make the floor flat and level with the rear bumper, like they knew someone might love having an easier time of dragging out her 40- and 50-pound bags of wild bird food.

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid has seating for five, backed by an expansive cargo area providing 39.5 cubic feet of space even with rear seats in upright position. (Kia)

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid has seating for five, backed by an expansive cargo area providing 39.5 cubic feet of space even with rear seats in upright position. (Kia)

2023 KIA SPORTAGE HYBRID SX-PRESTIGE

Base price, including destination charge: $37,485

Price as driven: $38,530

Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.

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