2023 Kia Sportage debuts in US-spec with rugged, new X-Pro model
Kia's all-new Sportage will reach North American trails and roads early next year with the debut of the X-Pro trim level with mild off-road upgrades.
Antuan GoodwinReviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
ExpertiseReviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainmentCredentials
North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Okay, so the new Kia Sportage was technically already revealed earlier this year, but that was the global spec. Today, we get the specifics on exactly powertrain and feature configurations will be headed to America and get the details on a new, rugged X-Pro off-road trim level debuting when the 2023 Kia Sportage makes landfall in the first quarter of 2022.
The new design is a blend of sharp angles and organic curves, pulling elements from Kia's new "Opposites United" design ethos which first debuted on the electric EV6 crossover. Up front, the automaker's signature "tiger nose" floats over a massive honeycomb intake, both flanked by the Sportage's bold boomerang daytime running lights. At the rear, notch-shaped tail lights wrap around the corners, connecting to one another via a narrow strip above the automaker's new logo.
The new Sportage is 7.1-inches longer than last year and its wheelbase is 3.4-inches longer; it's now 183.5 inches from bumper-to-bumper with 108.5-inches between the axles. The SUV also grows about a half-inch taller and wider. The extra length frees up more legroom (now 41.3 inches) and stretches the cargo space to 39.6 cubic feet.
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro flexes light off-road chops
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine lives beneath the hood and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with standard front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option for most trim levels and, interestingly, also adds about 1.5-inches of additional ground clearance to the Sportage's ride.
Kia says that it is "targeting" 187 horsepower, which is oddly vague since this is likely the same 2.5L we've already seen in the Sportage's similarly sized platform-mate, the new Hyundai Tucson. Perhaps Kia hasn't finalized the tuning for this application -- the sister companies have been known to tune their shared platforms and tech very differently -- but it's more likely that the final numbers will be identical to the Tucson's 187-hp and 178 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy also hasn't been finalized, but Kia is hoping for an 8-percent boost over last year, putting the 2023 Sportage somewhere in the 25-28 combined mpg ballpark depending on configuration.
The four-banger is the only powerplant announced for the US-market Sportage, but Kia promises that "information regarding additional powertrain availability will be shared at a later date." Will we see a more potent turbocharged variant, a hybrid version or a plug-in hybrid similar to the Tucson? Time will tell.
Trail-ready Sportage X-Pro
New for this generation are the "trail-ready" X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige models that boost the Sportage's off-road cred a bit with 17-inch matte-black off-road wheels shod with BF Goodrich all-terrain tires. The Sportage X-Pro further visually distinguishes itself with beefier front and rear bumpers, side garnish, glossy black exterior details and roof rails. There are also new multi-terrain drive modes, a heated windshield and washer nozzles and LED fog lights. The X-Pro can also be had with an optional two-tone roof. Meanwhile, the X-Pro Prestige spec further upgrades to LED projector headlamps and ventilated front seats with 8-way power adjustment along for the ride.
Kia will also continue offer the Sportage with its normal trim level structure, ranging from base LX and EX models to sporty SX and SX-Prestige specs. There's also an X-Line model that boasts a more rugged look similar to the X-Pro but with 19-inch wheels and street tires.
Big screen tech
Inside, the Sportage features a curved dual-screen dashboard, linking a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel with a 12.3-inch infotainment display at center stage. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard along with the latest generation of Kia's onboard software. Drivers and passengers are also able to take advantage of Wi-Fi hotspot capability, optional wireless phone charging, and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration. And like most modern cars, there are USB ports all over the place, including a set of ports molded into the back of the front seat headrests along with integrated coat hangers and bag hooks.
Every 2023 Sportage comes standard with LED headlamps with high beam assist, lane keeping steering assist, rear park distance warning and forward collision avoidance with pedestrian and cyclist detection. A rear camera is standard, but a 360-degree birds-eye camera system is available as an upgrade. Other driver aid features, including Kia's Blind-Spot View Monitor camera, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, rear cross traffic alert with brake assist and Junction Turning capability for the forward collision avoidance system come online with various trim levels and packages.
Pricing and trim level breakouts have not yet been announced, but we expect we'll learn more as the 2023 Kia Sportage's Q1 2022 launch window approaches.