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In-depth reviews

Kia Sportage Hybrid review

The fifth generation of Kia’s mid-size family SUV is a refined cruiser with an impressive infotainment setup, although the ride may be on the firm side for some

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Styling
  • Infotainment
  • Cruising refinement

Cons

  • Slightly firm ride
  • More efficient plug-in hybrid available
  • Pricier than equivalent Hyundai Tucson
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid44-49mpg129-146g/km7.7-8.3s

The original Kia Sportage debuted in its domestic market of South Korea in 1993, arriving here two years later. Since then, it has cemented a position as one of the country’s most popular family SUVs, even managing to tempt buyers away from the all-conquering Nissan Qashqai.

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It has evolved into a well-rounded and accomplished family car, presenting a compelling blend of style, practicality and value for money. This fifth-generation Sportage arrived in 2021, taking everything that was good about the old model, and adding more style and a range of electrified powertrains. 

Standout features of the latest version include a cutting-edge, tech-filled cabin and bold, striking styling – which is increasingly what we’ve come to expect from Kia’s line-up, following the high benchmark set by the pure-electric EV6 in 2021. A zero-emissions version of the fifth-generation Sportage isn’t on the horizon, but there are plenty of hybrid powertrain options.

These include mild hybrids and, for the first time, a plug-in hybrid version, which we’ve reviewed separately. However, we’re focusing here on the ‘full hybrid’ Sportage, which couples a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a 59bhp electric motor, fed by a 1.49kWh battery. The Sportage’s rivals include its sister car, the Hyundai Tucson, as well as the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Toyota RAV4 and Vauxhall Grandland.

Total power output for the Sportage Hybrid stands at 227bhp, which is enough to take the front-wheel-drive version with its six-speed-automatic gearbox that we drove from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-range, four-wheel-drive model will do the same sprint in just over eight seconds. Both have a top speed of 120mph.

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On the road, the full-hybrid Sportage does its best to run on electric power whenever possible, with the engine cutting in smoothly unless you suddenly put your foot down, which sends the revs soaring and unleashes a harsher tone from under the bonnet. A more relaxed approach is rewarded by impressive refinement that makes the Kia comfortable when cruising on the motorway.

All-round visibility has been improved over the previous Sportage, and you now get a chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel, which is pleasing to hold and gives the family SUV a slightly sporty feel. In fact, when tackling corners, the Sportage grips well and keeps body lean in check. On the downside, the ride is a little firm, especially when compared to the Tucson. It’s far from a dealbreaker, but does mean the Sportage can be upset by poorer surfaces.

CO2 emissions stand at between 129 and 132g/km for front-wheel-drive cars, or 140g/km for the all-wheel-drive version. That's on par with the Tucson, as is the hybrid Sportage's fuel economy; we reckon you’d easily get an average of mid to high-40s mpg in everyday driving.

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Where this Sportage really shines is inside. Kia has lifted the impressive dual-screen infotainment setup from the EV6 electric car almost unchanged. Both 12.3-inch panels – one behind the steering wheel and another central touchscreen – are crisp, responsive and easy to use. There are more controls on the centre console, as well as below the main screen on the changeable panel that allows you to flick between navigation and heating/ventilation operation, which is preferable to systems that bury climate controls in sub-menus. Cabin quality overall is top-notch, too.

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There’s space for four six-footers, and even with the panoramic glass roof fitted, those in the rear shouldn’t complain about headroom. Meanwhile, there’s 587 litres of boot capacity, which is not only more than the previous Sportage offered, but around 80 litres up on the Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid. You also get a nice, flat floor to make sliding large loads in and out easier. Fold down the rear seats, using the easy-to-access handles on either side of the boot, and space increases to 1,776 litres.

The Sportage Hybrid skips the entry-level 2 trim level and starts with what would otherwise be the mid-spec GT-Line trim, followed by 3 spec and finally the range-topping GT-Line S – which also gives you the choice of front or all-wheel-drive. Our test car came in the top-spec trim, priced at around £40,000. The amount of kit was impressive, including 18-inch alloys, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, an optional two-tone black roof and synthetic leather/suede upholstery. However, it’s still more than the equivalent Hyundai Tucson costs.

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It’s also worth remembering that, although the Sportage Hybrid benefits from a £10 VED (road tax) discount from year two, some versions slip into the premium supplement for cars with a list price of more than £40,000. This can make a big difference to your motoring costs. For example, at £36,000, the Sportage Hybrid 3 will cost £170 a year to tax, while at £40,500, the Sportage Hybrid GT-Line S is £560 a year. Over five years, that’s an additional £1,950, which is something you might want to consider when looking at a used example.

Safety is a strong point, with the Sportage gaining a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating in mid-2022. Adult and child occupant protection was rated at 87% and 86% respectively, while the safety assistance score was 72%. The rating applies across all the trim levels and powertrains that make up the Sportage range.

Our time in the new Sportage Hybrid revealed promising cruising refinement and handling, as well as impressive interior quality, infotainment and cabin space. It’s worth noting that the Sportage is based on the same N3 platform as the Hyundai Tucson, a car that was named Mid-size SUV of the Year by one of our sister titles for the third year in a row in 2023. The Tucson is certainly the more comfortable and more practical of the pair, but it can’t match the Sportage’s sharp styling and striking cabin.

Which one you choose will come down to personal preference, or maybe even the warranty, with Kia offering a seven-year/100,000-mile guarantee, and Hyundai covering its cars for five years but with unlimited mileage.

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Welcome one and all, I’m Ellis the news reporter on Auto Express, the brand’s former online reviews editor and contributor to DrivingElectric. I’m proud to say I cut my teeth reporting and reviewing all things EV as the content editor on DrivingElectric. I joined the team while completing my master’s degree in automotive journalism at Coventry University and since then I’ve driven just about every electric car and hybrid I could get my hands on.

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