Sportage Redefines Compact SUV

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CHATHAM, Mass. – The all-new 2023 Kia Sportage resets its position within the compact sport-utility (SUV) segment, growing inside and out, as well as adding numerous features in its fifth-generation iteration.

We spent an enjoyable week in a Sportage X-Pro Prestige, the top of the seven-version range, which was comprehensively equipped for both on-road comfort and off-road capabilities.

As mentioned, the latest Sportage at 183.5-inches long is some 7.1-inches longer than its predecessor, with a wheelbase stretched 3.4 inches to 108.5. These dimensions, along with larger window glass, provide a roomy cabin without the cavernous feel of some SUVs.

A full complement of amenities, conveniences and features – including a comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) – fill the Sportage X-Pro Prestige spec sheet.

ADAS roster long and up to date

Every 2023 Kia Sportage features a long-list of ADAS including: driver-attention warning including leading-vehicle-departure alert; high-beam assist; lane-following-assist; lane-keeping assist; forward-collision avoidance with cyclist-detection capability; rear-view monitor with dynamic-parking guidance, and reverse-parking-distance warning.

Moving up to the Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige trim level brings the full assortment of ADAS which adds: blind-spot view monitor (live video of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster when the turn signal is activated); blind-spot-collision-avoidance assist; blind-spot-collision avoidance with parallel exit (may help avoid collisions with rear-side vehicles when exiting parallel parking spot by automatically assisting with braking); rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; forward collision-avoidance with junction-turning capability; forward parking-distance warning; highway-driving assist; intelligent speed-limit assist; navigation-based smart cruise control-curve (leverages the navigation system to help lower the vehicle’s speed proactively before upcoming curves); reverse parking-collision avoidance, and smart cruise control.

A new platform for the new Sportage

The 2023 Sportage utilizes Kia’s new N3 platform also providing the underpinnings of the latest generation Sorento compact SUV. The Korean manufacturer claims this new platform provides:

  • Better driving dynamics via expanded use of hot-stamped parts and ultra-high-strength steel for increased average tensile strength and torsional stiffness
  • Minimized road, wind, and engine noise via greater application of sound absorbing and insulating materials

All claims aside, the Sportage rides and handles very well, providing a comfortable environment for up to five. It is a much improved riding SUV than its predecessor with an uptick in on-road handling.

The components in the ride/handling department are a MacPherson-type strut setup in the front, multi-link int eh rear, with gas shock absorbers working at all four corners.

The brake system includes 12.6-inch rotors in the front, 11.9 in the rear.

The X-Pro Prestige wears 235/65R17 B.F. Goodrich all-terrain tires on 17x7J matte-black alloy wheels.


A 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pushes 187 horsepower (and 178 pounds-feet of torque) through an eight-speed automatic transmission and active all-wheel-drive (AWD) system to motivate the 2023 Sportage X-Pro.

The active AWD system uses electro-hydraulic coupling with center-locking differential to actively distribute power between front and rear wheels depending on road and driving conditions.

A comfortable, complete interior

As mentioned, the Sportage X-Pro Prestige sits at the top of the new Sportage range and as such, comes with the most comprehensive array of amenities as standard. There are no options (beyond paint color, auto-dimming rearview mirror and cargo cover) available for this model.

Enter the spacious Sportage and what is becoming a signature feature of many new Hyundai-family vehicles (Hyundai, Kia and Genesis are all brands of the group) — a 32-inch panel occupying almost two-thirds of the dash greeting the driver.

This panel houses two 12.3-inch LCD screens. The left screen, behind the steering wheel, presents the customizable information (ne: instrument) cluster, while the one on the right is the heart of the navigation/infotainment system (as well as providing control of vehicle systems and settings).

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming audio (which can handle two smartphones simultaneously), are all part of the infotainment sources which are amplified by the Harman Kardon premium audio system.

2023 Sportage X-Pro

A dual-zone automatic climate-control system supplements front-seat heaters and ventilation. The front seats also feature power adjustment (driver 10-way; passenger eight-way).

The environment is a comfortable one, very pleasant for both short, local trips and extended highway sojourns.

The X-Pro difference

Kia created the X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige versions for the Sportage buyers who wanted a more off-road capable vehicle. Beyond the standard active AWD system, all-terrain tires already mentioned, the X-Pro Prestige package includes: 

  • LED fog lights and LED Projector headlights to illuminate the trail ahead
  • Heated windshield and wiper washer nozzle
  • Multi-terrain drive modes with Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow modes specifically tuned for Sportage X-Pro trims to reduce wheel slip, maximize traction and downhill braking control

A compelling compact SUV package

The gasoline-powered Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige traveled some 27.3 miles per gallon under my right foot, bettering the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s overall rating of 25 (23 urban, 28 highway). I was very pleased with this performance, especially considering how I drive, with little concern for eking out good fuel-economy figures.

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The new Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige offers a lot for the compact-SUV shopper. The seven-vehicle range has a base price of $25,990 for the front-wheel driver LX with six additional steps to the X-Pro Prestige, which carries a price of $36,790. The review model had a jungle-green/black-roof paint scheme ($395) and carpeted floor mats ($155), so with the inland freight and handling charge ($1,215) the as-reviewed price totaled $38.550.

This is a terrific compact SUV, one very much worth the price of admission, regardless of the model chosen. The Sportage is the longest-running Kia SUV nameplate. The last generation had run its course; the new one, the 2023 moves to the top group in this segment.

Next week TBR Drives the Subaru Forester Wilderness.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.