Kia Sportage Hybrid is an affordable look at the latest auto technology | Auto Features


The new 2023 Kia Sportage is not so a great deal a car or truck as it is a Universal Studios topic park attraction: an reasonably priced look at the latest auto technological know-how that you can do with the complete family members: massive screens, semi-autonomous driving, crimson leather, hybrid-electrical electricity.

My Matte Gray (yes, Matte Gray in a $38,000, non-luxe car or truck) tester seems like it was sketched by a Hollywood designer.

The entrance is all grille, chrome accents and LED light bars — the headlights pushed to the very edges of the fascia. It is a stark contrast with the preceding-technology Sportage and its anthropomorphic features. The ‘22 Sportage was a cutie, its major eyes and happy mouth — er, grille — seemingly encouraged by Pikachu from the Pokemon relatives. The new Sportage appears to be like like anything from the Tron videos.

“Is that from the long term?” my neighbor John commented as I rolled past his driveway on my way up north for a lengthy highway journey to appreciate the Kia’s showcased points of interest.

While it should conform to the traditional structure of 4-door SUV, Sportage problems styling convention. Sister Hyundai has completed the exact with its angular Tucson ute, which is built on the similar platform as Sportage. The Kia’s rear is practically as intriguing as the front with a wedding cake building that separates rear window, taillights, license plate panel and diffuser into four planes. The total sculpture sits underneath a trendy floating-roof style and design.

For all its design and style ambition, even so, my Sportage tester was very realistic. It sat on superior-profile, 18-inch wheels with a handy, Wrangler-like 8.3 inches of floor clearance must I encounter a normal northern Michigan dirt street.

The prolonged drive up I-75, on the other hand, was nearly anything but typical.

The Sportage has the ideal semi-autonomous system this aspect of Caddy’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot. I’m not generating this up. Like Tremendous Cruise (and compared with Autopilot) the procedure has no curiosity in nannying me all the time.

As opposed to these subtle systems, Kia doesn’t give its adaptive cruise characteristic a extravagant name and it won’t self-navigate to your location (so it won’t immediately switch lanes in the approach). Normally, it authorized me to take it easy, believe a chair-like seating placement (fingers on my knees) — only reaching for the steering column when one more motor vehicle got in the way.

The radar brick in the front grille go through cars in front of me, slowing down from my established pace of 79 mph as I approached. Assuming the controls, I turned on the blinker, drove around them, then settled again into palms-cost-free driving. The cameras saved the automobile centered, even in extended interstate curves. Even though Tesla’s Autopilot nannies me every 30 seconds to apply torque to the wheel (generating positive I’m spending consideration), the Kia method remaining me on your own, hardly ever asking me to affirm my presence.

A temporary rainstorm didn’t faze the method. In excess of the Zilwaukee Bridge, Sportage was a rock, next the lane fantastically. A pair of complete-size pickups — in a hurry to get up I-75 — roared into see at the rear of me, swerving across lanes and passing targeted visitors. All of a sudden alongside, they slice in entrance of me and into the still left lane. The Kia braked quickly as the Ram slice throughout its bow — tests the emergency braking technique — then ongoing on its way as the pickups disappeared into the length. Impressive.

As the Sportage drove alone, I experienced the prospect to make cell phone phone calls, help you save my beloved radio stations, marvel at the interior. The modern day cabin is on par with the Sportage’s sci-fi exterior and slicing-edge adaptive cruise management.

A massive, hoodless curved screen stretches across the sprint like — perfectly, a Mercedes. It homes two electronic 12.5-inch screens — just one for instrumentation, the other for infotainment — that are graphically impressive and configurable. Amid all this electronic wizardry, Sportage is continue to curiously a era at the rear of its peers in not supplying wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Fortunately, there was enough console space to plug in my cellular phone for navigating my journey. The Kia native technique was no match for the smartphone’s voice and navigation qualities.

The handsome gloss-black middle console is whole of intelligent thoughts. To limit buttons, the infotainment and local climate controls alternately obtain the same middle console display for modifying, say, quantity or warmth. Kudos to the very first member of your family who figures out this minimal Easter egg without 1st consulting the glovebox handbook.

Talking of buttons, the starter, rotary shifter and rotary manner controller are all neatly aligned like the sunshine, moon and earth in a solar eclipse.

Console cupholders are multi-purposeful. Having a webpage from Honda — whose Civic and Pilot consoles are engineering gems — the Kia’s cupholder rims can be concealed at the touch of a button, turning the place into even bigger storage for a box of fries or a modest purse. I designed superior use of the room even though downing a speedy-foods meal on my journey.

All of this was wrapped in pink leather-based less than a panoramic sunroof that I usually see in, very well, a Mercedes (or Mazda CX-50, one more mainstream automobiles with upscale ambitions like Kia).

Once again, this in a $38,000 car.

Speaking of relatives, there is a lot of place for second-row travellers. Sportage offers fantastic rear legroom, courtesy of a wheelbase stretched by 3.4 inches over that previous-gen, and I could tilt the seatback farther to permit myself more headroom.

How does it drive, you inquire?

So high-tech is Sportage that I pretty much forgot the hybrid drivetrain, which went about its obligations in workman-like way. The hybrid marries a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-banger with a one electric powered motor for a healthier 226 horses. It made fantastic acceleration out of stoplights, but when it came to tackling the twisties on my most loved M-32 west of Gaylord, the Kia wasn’t intrigued. It is no Mazda CX-5.

The hybrid drivetrain is new to Sportage (there is also a plug-in product accessible with 32 miles of battery-only range) and statements a blended 38 mpg with all-wheel drive — a large jump more than the non-hybrid’s 28 mpg. That is welcome information as I handed by gas cost indicators of $4.51 (soon to rise higher than $5).

But in my week of driving, the Sportage hybrid returned a a lot far more modest determine of 29 mpg. Oh properly. Which is a unusual miss out on in a car or truck that if not exceeds all anticipations for the normal relatives ute.

Henry Payne is vehicle critic for The Detroit News. Obtain him at or Twitter HenryEPayne.

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