Kia PHEV Reviews

Review: 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV

The 2023 Kia Sportage has had a big update over the previous generation. New looks, new features, and new engines. I’ve already reviewed the base and the hybrid powertrains. So that begs the question, is this PHEV variant the best of the three?

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior


Engine – The powertrain in this Sportage PHEV is shared with other Kia & Hyundai models such as the Santa Fe or Sorento. At the core is a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that, on its own, produces 177 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque (132 kW & 264 Nm). The electric motor supplements the engine by providing an additional 90 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque (67 kW & 304 Nm). The total output of the powertrain is 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (194 kW & 350 Nm). 

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior

Although you won’t get the “pushed to the back of the seat” feeling that you will get with a full electric vehicle, the speed quickly increases in this Kia. Before you know it, you could have red & blue flashing lights behind you… in a Sportage. But when you don’t need all of the power of the powertrain, the 2023 Sportage PHEV’s electric motor has enough grunt to accelerate the crossover from a stop to highway speeds without breaking a sweat. Additionally, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV can tow up to 2,000 lbs.

Fuel Economy – Although the Sportage PHEV tips the scales at 1,937 kg (4,270 lbs), the fuel economy is pretty good, even when it’s just the engine that is providing the motivation. It is rated for 6.6 L/100km (35.6 MPG) in a city and 6.7 L/100km (35.1 MPG) on a highway. Again, just on the engine with a depleted battery which means that it will behave like a normal hybrid vehicle. However, if you consistently plug it in, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV has a combined fuel economy rating of 2.8 Le/100km (84 MPGe). During my time with the CUV, I averaged around 3.3 Le/100km (71.2 MPGe). But it could have been better.

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior

Battery & Charging – The 2023 Sportage PHEV has a claimed electric-only driving range of 55 km (34 miles). It was a bit hard for me to confirm that because the engine will still turn on to provide heating for the cabin even if the car is in EV mode. So if you have a short, 10 minute errand and you want to stay warm and cozy, the engine will be running for about 7 or 8 of those 10 minutes. Of course on longer journeys, the car will eventually shut off the engine once there’s enough cabin heating and it’ll only turn it back on periodically just to maintain the set cabin temperature. There are heated seats & a heated steering wheel but your face will probably not like the cold. During the summer months, obviously there’s no need for cabin heating so the engine never needs to turn on. But for the winter months, the fact that the engine needs to turn on to provide cabin heating defeats the purpose of having a PHEV, especially for short errands when you would never need to use the gas engine. In other PHEVs like the Mitsubishi Outlander or Volvo XC60, the engine does not need to turn on to provide heating for the cabin. It’s all done with electricity. 

On the flip side, yes, this does impact the EV-only driving range by a bit but electricity is, generally speaking, much less expensive than gasoline. As well, looking at things from a different perspective, having the engine turn on once a while is a good thing. At the very least you won’t have fuel in the gas tank that is several months old. Also, when the engine does turn on to provide heating, it acts like a generator. So the rpms remain at a constant 1,300 which is the most efficient range for the engine.

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior

Although there are pros and cons from each side of the coin and perspective, in my opinion, Kia & Hyundai’s engineers should have followed in the footsteps of other manufacturers in providing cabin heating through the use of electricity, not the engine. For the types of commutes I take, I can’t help thinking how wasteful it is to run the engine for cabin heating. I’d happily lose 3 or 4 km off the EV driving range because electricity is cheap and I don’t want to choose between saving money at the pumps or being comfortable in my own car.

To recharge the 13.8 kWh battery, it takes approximately 12 hours from flat to 100% from a regular wall outlet. From a level 2 charger, it can take as little as 2 hours, depending on the charger power.

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior

Braking – The Sportage PHEV has regenerative braking, which recharges the battery ever so slightly, but it does not have different regen braking modes. All of the regen braking is done through the brake pedal. The transition from regen braking to using the physical brakes is seamless.

Handling – This new generation 2023 Kia Sportage has a longer wheelbase which gives it a planted ride at highway speeds. The steering is on the light side but responsive. However, there is quite a bit of body roll if you drive too quickly through corners. This is by no means a sporty feeling crossover which is fine as this new generation Sportage focuses more on providing comfort.

2023 Kia Sportage Interior


Ride Comfort – Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the 2023 Kia Sportage has a smooth and comfortable ride for a CUV. Potholes do not feel as harsh as they do in some other compact SUVs. The seats are also superbly padded. They’re not too soft, not too hard, just right. There aren’t a whole lot of adjustments for the seats but at least on these higher trim models of the Sportage, both the driver and the passenger have power operated seats… for the Canadian market.

2023 Kia Sportage Interior

Interior Space – The longer wheelbase also allows for more interior space. Legroom in the front and back seats is more than in other compact SUVs such as the Mazda CX-5. Headroom is ok as well so long as you lower the seat. The great thing is, the plug-in hybrid and the hybrid versions of the Sportage have the exact same amount of cabin space as the non-hybrid version.

However, some of the cargo volume has been sacrificed in the plug-in hybrid Sportage. It can accommodate 977 L (34.5 cu-ft) with the rear seats up and 1,855 L (65.5 cu-ft) with the seats folded. Both the hybrid & gasoline variants have over 1,000 L and 2,000 L of space respectively.

Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This new generation Kia Sportage is quieter inside than before. Engine noise isn’t as pronounced, when accelerating aggressively that is, and road noise from tires is not too intrusive. As well, the transition from EV to gasoline is exceptionally smooth.

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior

Odds and Ends

Pricing – The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV starts in price where the hybrid Sportage ends. The EX Premium costs $45,595 CAD ($38,690 USD, X-Line) while this Sportage SX PHEV trim will cost you $48,995 CAD ($43,190 USD, X-Line Prestige). 

2023 Kia Sportage Interior

Gadgets – This being a top spec trim of the Sportage, it has every available gadget fitted to it. Heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, and many more features. Perhaps the only thing that is missing is a head-up display but I’m fine without it.

The infotainment system is one that we’ve all grown accustomed to as it is in every current Kia vehicle. Unfortunately, it does not support wireless Apple CarPlay nor wireless Android Auto. You still need to plug your phones in to use those apps.

2023 Kia Sportage Interior

Interior Design – This new generation takes a lot of inspiration from other Kia models. Some are good design elements, others not so much. The good thing is the dual screen layout for the driver display and the infotainment touch screen. Unfortunately, Kia likes to use a lot of piano black plastics throughout the cabin. This material attracts dust, scratches, and fingerprints very easily. This material does not look good over a long time. Thankfully, this was not used on the door pulls like in the Kia Carnival.

One item that has been taken straight from the EV6 is the climate / infotainment controls screen. The display can be switched between the two options with a push of a button. Other auto journalists have complained that it’s an extra step or that you could inadvertently turn up the radio sound when you wanted to turn up the heat in the cabin, for example. Personally, I don’t find it such a big bother because I leave it on the climate menu and use the infotainment system itself to make any changes.


Exterior Design – By far the most bold change to the 2023 Sportage is the exterior design. It looks nothing like the previous generation with an almost alien-like design. I think it looks fantastic. One thing to note, the gas filler is on the driver’s side and the electric charger is on the passenger side.

2023 Kia Sportage Exterior

Safety – The 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV is equipped with standard automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep & lane follow assist, along with a rear occupant alert and backup camera. Moving up to this SX trim will add rear park collision avoidance assist, highway drive assist, blind-spot view monitor, around view monitor, and remote smart park assist. 

The IIHS awarded the 2023 Kia Sportage with a Top Safety Pick. The car received top marks in crash tests and advanced safety aids. But it received Acceptable and Poor scores for headlight performance, depending on trim level.

Warranty – In Canada, the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV has a 5 year / 100,000 km comprehensive & powertrain warranty. The hybrid components warranty is 8 years / 150,000 km. In the United States, the comprehensive portion of the warranty is 5 years / 60,000 miles and the powertrain is 10 years / 100,000 miles. For more information on Kia Canada warranty, click here. For Kia USA warranty information, click here.


Conclusion – Although the 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV is the most expensive of the three variants and despite the engine needing to run in order to provide cabin heating, this is a good and fuel-efficient crossover. As well, this new generation Sportage is much more comfortable than the outgoing model, more spacious, and much quieter. 

Thank you to Kia Canada for providing the vehicle.

2023 Kia Sportage PHEV Gallery


  1. Mike, I enjoyed your review and just one question, will this charge while driving? I am an avid cruse control driver with the added weight of the battery on the plug in, how does the gas mileage change?

    1. Hi Ronald, Unfortunately the Sportage PHEV does not have a recharge function for the battery. But you can tell the car to hold the battery charge while cruising on highways. Fuel economy wasn’t too bad in this mode, I think I briefly averaged around 6 or 6.5 L/100km.

  2. I have 5000 miles on my 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV and when running in hybrid mode at 65-70 miles per hour, I can only average between 26-29 miles per gallon. It was rated at 38 mpg. I am extremely disappointed. I have contacted KIa and they told me to take it to dealership service department. The manager at the dealership service department said he had others come in with the same problem but cannot find any problem. I guess our only hope is for a class action lawsuit regarding false MPG advertising. Had I known about the low mpg, I wouldn’t have purchased this car.

    1. I don’t know how cars are tested in the united States for their official fuel consumption rating but here in Canada for highway tests, they don’t go past 97 km/h (60 mph). Try driving your car at around 60 mph for a period of time and see if the fuel economy that you’re getting is still in the 26 -29 mpg range or if it gets closer to the 38 mpg.

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