Life is short, it’s said. And in America, it’s getting even shorter these days.
Life expectancy in this country has dropped precipitously two years in a row, according to the Centers for Disease Control, at least in part because our waistlines continue to grow.
The redesigned Kia Sportage is trying to do the opposite: get portlier while lasting longer.
The Sportage, long considered a small crossover, grows a whole lot bigger after its clean-sheet overhaul for 2023. It’s about half an inch wider and taller than before, plus a whopping 7.1 inches longer. That’s perfect for us growing Americans.
Unlike our flabby, COVID-ravaged bodies, though, new Kias seem to be getter dramatically healthier recently.
For the first time ever, Kia is the No. 1 brand in J.D. Power’s widely-tracked Vehicle Dependability Study, which surveys owners over three years about how many problems they had with their vehicles.
If they were people, Kias would be cover models on fitness magazines.
More than seven inches longer than last year’s version, the all-new 2023 Kia Sportage is roomier and more refined than before.
That presents a problem for the Korean brand because it spent decades building the automotive version of me: balding, pudgy, middle-aged cars who definitely are not cover-model material.
The new Sportage does a lot to change that reputation. It’s still a good value, delivering ample content and space for the money.
At the same time, nothing about it feels cheap.
Its redesigned body looks gorgeous, at least by affordable-small-crossover standards. It’s sleek, contemporary and fresh without straying too far from the familiar crossover shape that sells bazillions of copies in America every year. I thought my tester looked especially handsome in matte gray paint.
If you’re on a hunt for the nicest cabin in a mainstream crossover, you’d be hard pressed to beat this one, too. After this redesign, the Sportage looks and feels a lot like a scaled-down version of its bigger, pricier sibling, the Telluride, which raked in awards after it hit the market a few years ago.
I think Kia’s interior designers hit a home run with this car. Granted, my tester was a loaded SX Prestige model with lots of features and some upgraded materials that could have swayed my perception, but if I covered up the Kia badge on the steering wheel, I’d swear I was sitting inside something expensive and German.
An optional panoramic curved display fuses two 12.1-inch screens together for a seamless digital look across the dash.
Part of that perception is because of the optional dual panoramic curved display that covers a huge part of the dash with digital screens. It seamlessly fuses two different 12.1-inch panels together to sweep from behind the steering wheel almost all the way over to the passenger side of the vehicle, something I’ve only seen in pricey, high-end luxury cars before now.
The price of my tester was around $38,000, hardly luxury territory, but it came equipped with a lot of the content I’d expect in a pricier car, including lane keeping assist, smart cruise control, a panoramic sunroof and ventilated seats.
One place it feels like Kia skimped is in performance, though. It’s not a quick vehicle, even with the upgraded hybrid drivetrain that delivers 227 horsepower between a turbocharged gasoline engine and an electric motor. It’s more about fuel efficiency than thrills.
Pricing starts at $26,290 for the 2.5-liter gasoline version and just $1,200 more for the hybrid, which offers better performance and fuel economy. I think it’s well worth the extra money.
At A Glance