The Kia Sportage PHEV Electric SUV Has Changed the Way I Look at Kia

With luxury details, intelligent technology, surprising power in an electric SUV and a beautiful design, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV changed my view of Kia.

Kia Sportage Featured Image

Honesty is the best policy, right?

In that spirit, I must start my review of the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV (for plug-in electric hybrid) with full transparency… I’ve had a bit of trepidation over the years about Kia. I’m sure the next question you’re asking is, why? Well, I owned a Kia Sorento a few years back, and let’s just say everything that could fall apart or be dysfunctional did JUST that. It left me crying as I stared at my car’s engine one afternoon as it was hoisted in the air at the auto shop, freshly fallen snow dripping down its sides…. a gaping hole in it thanks to a dropped transmission. Thank goodness for auto warranties is all I can say.

However, I am an optimist. As luck would have it, I got to try out the new 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV with standard all-wheel drive…. in the middle of a Texas ice storm. I was excited to spend some quality time in this car to see what changes and improvements Kia has made since my experience years ago.

As soon as I got in the driver’s seat, my worries melted away, unlike the snow that week. I literally felt like I was in a tank, ready to take on the cold and snowy streets.

Related: The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid and X Models: Premium, Capable SUVs That Will Rock Your World

Just A Girl (And Her Fresh Pedicure) Enjoying My Ride In The Kia Sportage. Photo: Danyel Buie

Just a girl (and her fresh pedicure) enjoying my ride in the Kia Sportage. Photo: Danyel Buie

At First Glance, the New 2023 Kia Sportage is Beautiful

What attracted me immediately was the matte paint color, a unique and expensive-looking finish. This isn’t your “run it through the neighborhood car wash” kind of finish. This paint requires hand washing (and no wax) to keep it looking nice and scratch-free. Aside from the Shadow Matte Gray paint you see here, it comes in other colors like:

  • Clear White
  • Snow White Pearl
  • Steel Gray
  • Sparkling Silver
  • Burnished Copper
  • Black Cherry
  • Hyper Red
  • Pacific Blue

Related: Rugged yet Futuristic Kia EV9 Electric 3-row SUV Makes Its Debut

Kia Sportage Side View Screen. Photo: Danyel Buie

Kia Sportage side view screen. Photo: Danyel Buie

Cost of the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV

The Kia Sportage PHEV comes in two trims: the X-Line, priced at $38,690 and the X-Line Prestige, priced at $43,190. Both are AWD, carry an upgraded selection of features and have the most powerful of Sportage’s engine options: a 1.6-liter engine and electric motor combination that generates 261 HP – 80 more than the standard gas model.

The X-Line comes standard with a panoramic sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, leatherette seating, a 12.3″ multimedia touch screen, dual-zone climate control and Kia DriveWise driver assist and safety features, including emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, rear parking collision avoidance, front and rear parking sensors and rear occupant alert. It also includes GPS navigation and mapping data that makes for safer and easier travel.

The X-Line Prestige (the one that I drove) adds a heated windshield, surround view monitor, blind spot monitor, remote park assist, highway drive assist Harman Kardon premium sound, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise with stop and go, and a center locking differential for true off road capability. Both editions are distinct in that they are designed to showcase the “black out” look with dark exterior and wheel details.

Related: Space, Luxury and Savings without Compromise in the Kia Sorento Hybrid SUV 

Kia Sportage Door. Photo: Danyel Buie

Kia Sportage door features elegant details like wood trim and stitching. Photo: Danyel Buie

This Hybrid Has Good Electric Range

I have a fondness for electric cars now, and the Kia Sportage PHEV fits that bill. It’s a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can run on electric power for about 34 miles before the gas engine kicks in. A full tank of gas along with a fully charged battery can get drive about 430 miles with no stops for gas in between. If you plug it in every day, you can go even further.

Being able to use battery power for part of my drive and then the gas engine for the rest was so useful for my longer trips. I could go further between gas stops. Also, I always thought that charging an electric car would take up a lot of my day. However, once I completely charged up, I was ready to go in about 2.5 hours. Not bad at all!

Related: The Hyundai Ioniq 6 First Drive: This Sporty Sedan Makes You Feel all the Electric Car Loveliness

A Girls Guide To Cars | The Kia Sportage Phev Electric Suv Has Changed The Way I Look At Kia - Ev Charging

A quick charge-up before a night out! Photo: Danyel Buie

What About Premium Features in the Kia Sportage PHEV?

This SUV has plenty to go around! The first ones that caught my attention (thanks to the frozen temps) were the heated seats and steering wheel.  The wheel took no time to heat up, at full flow about 2 minutes after I got into the car. The seats took a bit longer, but I could feel the full heat experience within about five minutes. While sitting in the car, I began to admire the rotary gear selector. Personally, this is a welcome change from the conventional shift lever I’m used to. It was surprisingly intuitive and easy to manage.

Related: The Beautifully Modern All-New Prius Prime Plug-In Hybrid Leaves Its Predecessors In The Dust

Kia Sportage Steering Wheel Controls. Photo: Danyel Buie

Kia Sportage steering wheel controls. Photo: Danyel Buie

Cameras Make Driving Even Easier

The best part was that each time I put the car in reverse, I had a full view of the vehicle in all its digital glory right on my dashboard screen. Changing lanes was also a breeze! The camera image of the side of the Sportage gave me access to my blind spots when I tapped the signal. Even the sound system dropped in volume automatically to ensure I could concentrate on my surroundings better. No worries, music lovers, it goes right back up once you’re in drive and cruising down the road.

Related: What’s Old is New Again: Adding a Kenwood Car Stereo; Backup Camera to a 2008 Mercedes-Benz

A Girls Guide To Cars | The Kia Sportage Phev Electric Suv Has Changed The Way I Look At Kia - Seats

Sitting in the lap of luxury inside the Kia Sportage PHEV!

The X-Line Means Luxury as Well as Capability

At first glance of the interior, I felt like everything inside belonged in a luxury vehicle. It’s just that nice. The shapes of the door handles and air vents are elegant, as is the wood trim and upholstery stitching. The leatherette seats felt thick, comfortable, durable and of high quality. You almost forget you’re sitting in a car with so much leg and headroom. That’s a great indication of Kia’s growing sophistication.

A premium sound system is always a necessity for me in a new vehicle. Luckily, the Kia Sportage did not disappoint. It took me a few hours before I started checking out the specs and tweaking the sound….why? I didn’t need to, it’s that good!

The Sportage is well equipped for wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I loved that I (and every other passenger in the car) could set up my own personal profile in the vehicle. The Bluetooth connection allowed us to stream all of our favorite tunes and audiobooks at the same time– and from multiple phones. This made for happy rides for sure.

The high-resolution multimedia screen gave me so much information that I needed for every trip: up-to-date route navigation thanks to real time-mapping, up-to-the-minute traffic info to help get through congestion and construction zones, and all the weather updates to make sure I get where I needed to safely.

Kia Sportage Gas Cap. Photo: Danyel Buie

The Kia Sportage PHEV runs on gas AND electric power. Photo: Danyel Buie

Kia Made a Great New Impression on Me

Kia, you have my heart. Everything from the impressive electric range to the smooth-as-butter seats, roomy cabin space and effortless driving, made me feel like this car was meant for me. Enough to make me forget about the snow.

Disclosure: Kia provided the 2023 Sportage PHEV for this test drive, and all opinions are my own.

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Danyel Buie is the Midwestern Girl with sweet Southern Charm! She is based in Dallas Texas and owns her... More about Danyel Buie