54fMGR51 2023 Kia Sportage SX 5
2023 Kia Sportage SX 5

Kia Sportage: Charting new territory

2023 Kia Sportage SX 6

What is it?

Last year was a bumper one for Kia.

With total sales of 78,330 vehicles, the Korean manufacturer finished third in the sales race behind Toyota and Mazda — the company’s first-ever podium finish.

Along the way Kia also won family bragging rights by outselling sibling Hyundai for the first time.

Star performer for Kia in 2022 was the fifth-generation Sportage which arrived at the start of the year and accounted for almost a quarter of sales. 

As with the previous model Sportage comes in four versions: S, SX, SX+ and GT-Line, with the choice of petrol or diesel engines and two- and four-wheel drive.

2023 Kia Sportage SX 7

What’s it cost?

Although we’re told the styling is polarising, we love it as presumably do nearly 19,000 people who bought the car last year.

The front has a bold look with a new gloss black grille stretched across the width of the vehicle and flanked by a pair of boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights.

While the similarity is probably coincidental, we reckon they’re modelled on boomerangs – that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

In profile there’s a new semi-fastback look with the roofline that slopes down to an integrated spoiler and angular tail lights which are linked by a strong horizontal line that gives the car a wider appearance.

Each spec level gets a different wheel style. All are machined finish alloys, 17-inch in the S, 18-inch in the SX and 19-inch in the SX+ and GT-Line.

Sportage comes with three different infotainment touchscreens: 8.0-inch in the S, 12.3-inch LCD in the SX and SX+; and a curved display in the GT-Line that combines both the 12.3-inch LCD screen with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The lower-spec models each get a basic 4.2-inch LCD cluster.

The SX, SX+ and GT-Line get satellite navigation with 10-year updates as well as the capacity to personalise preferences such as radio favourites and Bluetooth priorities.

All variants get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless in the S (which doesn’t have satnav) but wired in the three higher-spec models which do. 

Wireless smartphone charging is available only with the GT-Line.

Sportage scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2022 under the new more stringent regime. 

Standard safety features across the range include seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping and following assist, intelligent speed limit assist, rear cross traffic warning, multi-collision braking, reversing camera automatic headlights, and IsoFix child seat anchors for the outer rear seats.

For the careless driver there’s also driver inattention alert, safe exit warning and blind spot collision warning,  

Sportage S gets rear parking sensors, the others add front sensors.

2023 Kia Sportage SX 9

What’s it go like?

The cabin of Sportage has been upgraded and now has a more upmarket look and feel even in the lower-level SX that we drove. 

The extra width of MY22 Sportage translates into more interior space all round, especially in the rear where there’s comfortable space for two adults — three without too much shoulder and hip rubbing.

Rear seat passengers do miss out on many of the features that we’re becoming used to including storage spaces, air conditioning controls and USB ports. There is a large folding centre armrest with two drink holders.

Boot space is pretty good at 543 litres with the rear seats in use, expandable to 1829 litres when they’re folded.

SX+ and GT-Line have a powered tailgate.

Another plus, at least in our opinion, is that all Sportage models get a full-size spare wheel which is located under the cargo area floor.

The choice of powertrains could hardly be more impressive.

There are two petrol and one diesel engine, manual and three different automatic transmissions plus either front or all-wheel drive.

The S, SX and SX+ each get a naturally-aspirated  2.0-litre petrol engine that carries over from the previous model.

Maximum outputs are 115kW at 6200 rpm and 192Nm at 4500 revs.

Both S and SX have a six-speed manual option while all three get a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive only.

A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is available with all variants. It generates 137kW and 416Nm and is mated to an eight-speed auto and comes only with all-wheel drive. 

The third engine option is a new 1.6T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine that produces 132kW of power and up to 265Nm of torque.

It’s available with both the SX+ and GT-Line and comes with seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and AWD.

The height of Sportage makes for relatively easy access and, once settled, the front seats are firm, supportive but still comfortable and bode well for long-distance trips. 

There’s excellent visibility in all directions thanks to large windows and side mirrors, and a sloping bonnet.

The steering wheel is reach and height adjustable.

Start-up in both S and SX is via old-style key-in-ignition which we actually still prefer – at least you always know where the key is.

Having said that it’s pretty rare nowadays and we did spend most of the week tossing the key into the centre console before scrambling to retrieving it.

SX+ and GT-Line have push button start/stop.

Likewise, only SX+ and GT-Line get a power-adjust driver’s seat, with the passenger also catered for in the GT-Line.

All Sportage variants do however get powered driver lumbar support.

As with most Australian models there has been considerable local input into tuning the suspension to suit local conditions.

The result is improved ride and handling that combines comfort with stability even when pushed reasonably hard. 

Steering is direct and responsive. 

Fuel consumption is listed at 8.1L/100km from the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine in the SX that we tested.

We averaged 9.2 L/100km.

By comparison, claimed usage from the 1.6-T engine is 7.2 L/100km or 6.3L/100km with the diesel. 

2023 Kia Sportage SX 8

What we like?

  • Love the look
  • Eye-catching Boomerang lights
  • Strong safety story
  • Cabin has more upmarket look and feel
  • Full-size spare wheel
  • Excellent visibility in all directions
  • Seats are firm, supportive but comfortable

2023 Kia Sportage SX 1

What we don’t like?

  • Wireless phone charging restricted to GT-Line
  • No USB ports for rear seat passengers

2022 Kia Sportage SX 2

The bottom line?

With its combination of striking looks, spacious interior, large choice of drivetrains, added safety features and an impressive seven-year warranty, the new Kia Sportage has plenty of offer.

2023 Kia Sportage SX 3


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Kia Sportage SX 2.0 petrol 2WD, priced from $37,000
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10

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