The Kia Sportage has come a long way from the “ayee” swamp-touring days.
During the years since that 2000 commercial, the company’s oldest SUV nameplate has grown – in size, power, technology, comfort, design and popularity. Now it’s one of the leaders in the crowded sub-compact SUV segment.
Kia Motors hosted a first look at the 2023 Sportage Oct. 27. The on-line “launch” showed a new-from-the-ground-up vehicle developed as part of Kia’s “Movement that Inspires” global brand transformation.
In the most significant change since it came on the market, the fifth generation of Sportage is 7.1 inches (180.3 mm) longer than its predecessor with a wheelbase that’s grown by 3.4 inches (86.3 mm) which results in a 3-inch (76 mm) increase in rear seat legroom to 41.3 inches (1,100 mm). Cargo capacity grows to 39.6 cu. ft. (1121.3 litres).
Standard power is a new 2.5L four-cylinder engine with a targeted 187 horsepower rating. Shifting is handled by an eight-speed automatic. The Active AWD system uses electro-hydraulic coupling with centre-locking differential to actively distribute power between front and rear wheels.
The U.S. market gets seven trims: LX, EX, SX, SX-Prestige, X-Line, X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige. Kia Canada says X-Pro trims won’t be available here, but we will get an X-Line trim.
Whatever the trim, the new “opposites united” design philosophy gives Sportage an attractive presence from Kia’s tiger nose grille perched above a blacked out grille to its “notch shaped” taillights connected by a thin black graphic across the tailgate.
The interior is a pleasant cabin with thoughtful “near-luxury” standard and available features.
Leading the list is an available dual panoramic curved display connects two screens – 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment screen.
A new touchpad with climate and audio controls sits below the infotainment screen. Switching between functions changes what tasks physical knobs perform. A 360-degree 3D surround-view monitor gives a view of vehicle surroundings.
Optional Kia Connect services access embedded connectivity including Wi-Fi hotspot connection for up to five devices on 4G LTE-based internet. A refreshed Kia Access App allows Apple and Android-based smartwatches to access features like remote climate control, door lock/unlock and others. Smart Speaker integration allows use of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
There’s even stolen vehicle tracking and immobilization capability.
Safety is a big deal here. Besides the usual bevy of airbags, standards include driver attention warning that warns if a break is needed, LED headlights with automatic high beam, Lane Following Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, forward collision avoidance, rearview monitor with dynamic parking guidance and reverse parking distance warning.
Optional driver assistance systems include: blind spot monitor that projects live view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, highway driving assist which uses speed limit data from the navigation system and will adjust speed accordingly, intelligent speed limit assist uses information detected through the front camera or navi system to warn if the limit has been exceeded. Navigation-based smart cruise control (zone) helps lower speed before upcoming speed limit changes. Smart cruise control (curve) helps lower speed before approaching curves.
Options also include reverse parking collision avoidance; safe exit warning detects approaching vehicles from the rear-side if someone is exiting the vehicle and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go.
So, when the new Sportage is available, you might want to hang your jacket on the purposely-shaped front headrests, slide in behind the wheel and take a spin.