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The 2023 Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid is stylish, practical and has stellar safety scores

The Kia Sportage Plug-In Hybrid is a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award winner for 2023. Pricing starts at $38,690.

The 2023 Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid compact SUV is an all-new variant of a new Sportage generation. The 2023 model year marks the debut of this popular SUV’s fifth iteration.

The entire range encompasses versions with just a gasoline engine, a regular hybrid model, and this plug-in hybrid.

Often referred to as a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), a plug-in hybrid has a bigger battery and usually a more powerful electric motor than a regular hybrid. This gives it the ability to travel for a meaningful distance using battery power alone — what’s known as range. And unlike a regular hybrid, this battery can be recharged from an outside source, hence the plug-in description. But there’s still a gasoline engine on board to keep everything running.

Learn more: What is EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? Here’s your guide to types of electric cars

Kia
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 says the new Sportage PHEV has an all-electric range of 34 miles. That’s one better than the closely related Hyundai
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Tucson PHEV, at 33 miles. It also boasts a starting price under the $40k mark.

For those with short commutes and/or occasional errand-running around town, the Sportage PHEV could be used just as an electric vehicle during the week, only using gasoline on those weekend visits to the in-laws.

The 2023 Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV went on sale in the summer of 2022. It’s offered in two well-equipped trim levels. Oh, and it’s KBB’s Best Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle of 2023.

The 2023 Kia Sportage and the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid are reviewed separately.

2023 Kia Sportage Plug-In Hybrid pricing

The 2023 Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV starts at $38,690. That’s for the X-Line PHEV AWD model. The better-equipped and more luxurious X-Line Prestige version begins at 43,190. If you’re not sure which is right for you, try comparing them side-by-side.

The 2023 Kia Sportage


Kia

The Hyundai Tucson PHEV is an alternative costing around the same as its Kia Sportage counterpart, with which it shares a platform. The Toyota RAV4 Prime is more like $40K.

2023 Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid

MSRP

Sportage Plug-in Hybrid X-Line

$38,690

Sportage Plug-in Hybrid X-Line Prestige

$43,190

These are manufacturer’s suggested retail prices and don’t include the $1,325 factory-to-dealer delivery fee (destination charge).

Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area paid for their new Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV. We expect resale values for the plug-in Sportage to be on par with segment averages.

Read: 10 top hybrids for less than $30,000

Driving the 2023 Kia Sportage Plug-In Hybrid

With 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, along with 34 miles of electric range, the 2023 Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV looks set to deliver an advantageous combination of satisfying acceleration and responsible fuel economy.

The 6-speed automatic transmission has selectable drive modes, plus Downhill Brake Control. This brings the ability to top up the battery’s charge level using brake energy regeneration, while simultaneously keeping the SUV’s rate of descent under control.

Kia says this PHEV has a higher level of brake regeneration than rival models. That means more electric-only miles are possible using essentially free energy.

Interior comfort

Because of their bigger batteries, plug-in hybrids tend to lose a little space in the back. That’s the case with the 2023 Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV.

The gasoline-only 2023 Sportage has 41.3 inches of rear legroom and 39.6 cubic feet of luggage space behind the rear seats. This PHEV version has 39.5 inches of rear legroom and 34.5 cubic feet of luggage area. The thing is, that’s still really good — better than the Toyota RAV4 Prime.

Just as Kia exteriors are growing bolder, Kia interiors are becoming more lavish. Once the 2023 Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV is in its top X-Line Prestige PHEV AWD trim level, there’s the twin-screen setup and leather seating surfaces.

Read: The pros and cons of plug-in hybrids and your guide to buying one

Exterior styling

A new Kia Sportage SUV range brings a completely fresh design. Arguably the most dramatic element is the front end, with an evolution of the corporate Kia grille and lighting elements like the K5 sedan.

Kia has made this whole new Sportage generation bigger than its predecessor. Consequently, it has become one of the largest in its class.

The body itself deploys ultra-high-strength steel for increased torsional rigidity compared with the fourth generation. The benefits of this include the ability to tune suspension components to a finer degree, as well as provide greater protection in the event of an impact.

Favorite features

Standard all-wheel drive
It’s doubtful that a 2023 Sportage Plug-in Hybrid SUV is an off-roader’s dream, but the grip and traction of all-wheel drive is great to have in bad weather.

Dual-screen dashboard
One unit that looks like a large, horizontally oriented tablet device incorporates two 12.3-inch displays — one for driver information, the other to control the infotainment system. It’s a high-tech touch that was pioneered by Mercedes-Benz. And now it’s in the mainstream, available in the highest of the two 2023 Sportage PHEV trim levels.

Standard features

The first of two 2023 Sportage Plug-in Hybrid trim levels, the X-Line PHEV AWD model, comes with all-wheel drive, 19-inch alloy wheels, Apple
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CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit warning, lane-keeping assistance, rear parking sensors, and automatic high beams.

Factory options

The poshest new Sportage Plug-in Hybrid is the X-Line Prestige PHEV AWD. Among the many features in this version are two 12.3-inch screens, 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control with steering assistance when the freeway curves, intersection assistance, Blind-Spot View Monitor, front parking sensors, remote parking assistance, Wi-Fi for up to five devices, wireless phone charging, and a Harman Kardon audio setup.

Engine and transmission

On the combustion side of this plug-in hybrid drivetrain is a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. On the electric side, a permanent magnet synchronous motor is energized by a lithium-ion polymer battery.

The battery needs about two hours for a full recharge when connected to a 240-volt supply. With a full charge, the plug-in Sportage can travel up to 34 miles using just electric power.

1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
Permanent magnet synchronous electric motor
Total horsepower: 261
Total torque: 258 lb-ft
EPA combined (city/highway) fuel economy: 35 mpg in hybrid operation, 84 MPGe in all-electric mode

More Sportage Plug-in Hybrid range and efficiency information is available at the EPA’s website.

Stellar safety scores

The Sportage Plug-in Hybrid has received favorable crash-testing results earning it the IIHS Top Safety Pick award.

Also see: Used car values are dropping. Here’s when forecasters expect prices to normalize

Class-leading warranty

Part of what makes the Sportage Plug-in Hybrid our PHEV Best Buy is its outstanding 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

KBB’s car review methodology.

This story originally ran on KBB.com. 

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