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Kia Carnival MPV Review

The 2023 Kia Carnival is an ark of accommodation. Its lean styling is a refreshing reset to the typical minivan’s big hips and broad beam

An exterior view of the blue Kia Carnival in front of a train station

The 2023 Kia Carnival MPV SX Prestige tester was $49,285 with three options. (Mark Maynard photos or as credited)

Table of Contents

The Last Honest Vehicle
New for 2023
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
Powertrain and Performance
Ride and Handling
Why Buy the Kia Carnival?


I see the look in fathers’ eyes as they follow my slow cruise in the Kia Carnival MPV through the beach parking lot. It is a look of envy — with resignation that their lot in life could be so much easier with that damn M-word — minivan. But, no, their hands and their partner’s hands are struggling to untangle a stroller from a crowded trunk while they schlep armloads of a trike, scooter, and a stuffed duffel of clothes and snacks for when everybody is wet, tired, and cranky.

There is much irrational venom directed at this most-efficient mode of moving people. It is as if the minivan represents swallowed pride to make the best of a sad situation.

I count my blessings that this stage has passed in my life. But I always enjoyed testing minivans. Not for their lively drivability but for an hour or so of free time. I’d park the latest test minivan in the driveway, and the kids would want to do homework or watch a movie. It was a secure space that would give me 45 minutes of peace and quiet … for laundry or cooking.

There is comfort and security in the family minivan. It is the modern ark of accommodation. Sure, bring a friend or three. And parents can pull the seats for room to haul furniture … to usher that college kid to the college dorm.

Minivans are built for comfort and accommodation. They are part lounge and part romper room. And any minivan with a combustion engine will get better fuel economy and cost less to maintain (tires and suspension elements) than a comparably sized SUV.

Driver controls are smartly placed and ergonomically designed.

Driver controls are smartly placed and ergonomically designed.

The Last Honest Vehicle

Unlike the SUV, the minivan is the last honest vehicle made today. Minivans don’t have to be something other than what they were intended. A minivan does not need sport bucket seats with their annoying in-your-crack bottom bolsters. A minivan doesn’t need paddle shifters. They surely don’t need a tachometer, which might be the most worthless space-cluttering element in the driver’s gauge display for an automatic-transmission vehicle. And they don’t need a Sport mode to turn the gauge display red.

Manufacturers have tried to sportify the minivan to little avail. Sporty features, such as aerodynamic fairings and hot wheels, just added to the cost. Today, the minivan segment is small: the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and today’s tester, the Kia Carnival MPV.

Kia has sold a minivan in the U.S. since 2002 called Sedona. It was unremarkable at the time when compared to the competition from Honda, Chrysler, and Toyota. But it did get high marks for safety from NHTSA and IIHS.

Undeterred, Kia moved forward with a second generation in 2005 as a 2006. A third generation came along in 2014 as a 2015. And now, the fourth generation debuted in North America in Feb. 2021 as a 2022 model. The 2022 redesign included adding Kia’s global nameplate Carnival MPV, or multi-purpose vehicle.

There isn’t a beauty competition for a minivan — it just can’t be ugly. Except for the Kia Carnival, there is dowdy minivan DNA in the exterior styling of the competitors, mainly in the big hips and a broad beam. The Kia Carnival, however, looks more like a business attaché. It has lean lines without contrived curves or bulges to hint at “sport.” The Carnival’s styling is legitimate and contemporary.

The 12.3-inch-wide navigation screen

A 12.3-inch navigation screen. (Kia)

2023 Kia Carnival Pricing

All models of Carnival are front-wheel drive with no option for all-wheel drive. For that traction capability, minivan shoppers must consider the Chrysler Pacifica or Toyota Sienna.

The 2023 Kia Carnival MPV is sold in four trim levels of LX, EX, SX, and SX Prestige. Pricing starts at $34,465 for the LX, and there is an LX Seat Package model for $36,465; it adds eight-passenger seating with SynTex upholstery and second-row slide-flex seat adjustment.

The midrange EX and SX start at $39,965 and $43,165.

The SX Prestige tester starts at $47,565 and was $49,285 with three options:

  • Astra Blue paint ($495);
  • Rear seat entertainment package ($1,000);
  • Carpeted floor mats ($200, for three rows).

All MSRPs include the $1,395 freight charge from Gwangmyeong, Korea.

For current Carnival pricing and incentives, go to

VIP lounge seating with power controls.

VIP lounge seating with power controls.

What’s New On the 2023 Kia Carnival?

With the Carnival’s debut just a year ago, updates for 2023 are a minor shuffling of features for the SX and SX Prestige models. And there were price increases of $800 for the LX and EX models and $500 for the SX; the freight charge went up by $70.


  • Integrated panoramic 12.3-inch digital cluster and 12.3-inch center display are now standard;
  • Blind-Spot View Monitor is now standard;
  • Dual screen rear seat entertainment and streaming media package was added as a $1,000 option.

SX Prestige

  • 8-passenger Slide-Flex Seating with second-row center multi-function seat is now standard;
  • Dual screen rear seat entertainment system and streaming media capability is a new $1,000 option;
  • 2nd row VIP Lounge Seats is a no-cost option, replacing 2nd-row Slide-Flex Seats. The seat package is for seven-passenger seating and adds a pair of power-operated VIP lounge seats that recline with leg support and an adjustable headrest. The seats also are heated and ventilated.
The video Passenger View display.

The video Passenger View display.

Carnival Interior Function

Space is the luxurious frontier of a minivan. And while the Kia Carnival is not a luxury vehicle, its refinement of interior materials, switchgear, and touchpoints are of rewarding quality.

The Carnival cabin has big-and-tall front headroom of 40.9 inches and shoulder room (door to door) of 64.2 inches, which is 2.6 inches wider than the Kia Telluride SUV.

Sightlines for the driver are unobstructed at the side mirrors and across the hood. Of special value is the around-view camera with overhead and forward views. The camera can be switched on when inching forward in a parking slot or the garage.

There is no stress to step in and buckle up, and definitely no need for running boards, but there is still an elevated ride height for a clear view down the road.

The interior design is fresh with no old-fogey faux wood trim, just clean metallic trim elements. All controls are smartly placed and ergonomically designed.

The shift console is a functional work zone with cup holders divided by a phone slot. A charging e-bin includes a wireless pad and USB charging ports. Small storage areas are handily placed throughout, including a large armrest box.

Rather than a flip-down conversation mirror to keep an eye on children, Kia has a video passenger view and talk function. It is accessed through the main 12.3-inch wide screen and can be set up as a one-touch button on the steering wheel.

The third row seats in the Kia Carnival

Third-row legroom of 35.6 inches is up to 3 inches less than in some competitors.

Back Seats and Cargo Space

Sliding side doors are a parent’s friend — power-operated and foot activated. The openness of the doors allows a parent to get close to the child seat for buckling without hoisting a child up into an SUV seating position.

The driver has controls to open and close either side door, which is helpful for the school taxi when admitting your charges, especially when there is rain or snow.

I would prefer the standard three-position second row; it has more family function than the VIP Lounge seats that are exclusive to the SX Prestige. With the eight-seat configuration, the second-row seats can be removed, or just the center seat removed for an aisle pass-through to the third row.

Kia adds a nifty feature of slide-flex seat adjustment. Both window seats can be moved manually inward by a couple of inches. The side movement is beneficial with the VIP Lounge seats, which cannot be removed and do not have a fold-and-tumble design for third-row access. The side flex isn’t much, but it doesn’t take much for a kid to slip by and into the third row.

Lounge seats (heated and ventilated) seem like a cool idea, cruising in a La-Z-Boy style with legs supported. But the full recline position made me feel propped up and vulnerable. It might seem more special when parked and watching a movie. I felt uncomfortable (safe) with the sizeable iPad-like video screens so close on the front seatbacks.

There is adult legroom in the second row — a max of 40.5 inches if a tall person is not sitting ahead. But a tall adult might not feel comfortable in full recline of the lounge seats.

The power panel for second-row climate controls.

Electronic second-row climate controls.

Carnival’s Third Row

There is no shortage of details for those in the third row. There are charging ports, an inset for cups or juice boxes, and a phone slot.

Headroom of 38.6 inches is adequate for adults of average size. However, the max legroom of 35.6 inches is up to 3 inches less than some competitors.

The Carnival cargo area with the third row folded

Fold the third row for 5 feet in length of flat storage.

Carnival Cargo Space

Carnival earns its cargo salt with the obligatory 4-foot width, as if owners will load sheets of plywood. As with most minivans, the waaay back has multi-function.

With the third-row seats in place, there is a deep well of steamer-trunk capacity that neatly corrals a multitude of grocery bags or whatever. Fold the 60/40 seatbacks to drop flat into the cargo well and a parent could roll in bikes and trikes or strap down a large dog kennel. The interior height of 40 inches is about 31 inches or less for a midsize SUV. With the third row folded there is flat space that is 5 feet in length.

The storage well in the cargo area when the third row seats are upright

Steamer-trunk cargo capacity behind the third row.

Carnival Powertrain and Performance

No overworked turbocharged four-cylinder for this Carnival. All models have the same V-6 and eight-speed automatic powertrain. The 290-horsepower direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 has 262 foot-pounds of peak torque at 5,000 rpm.

Fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 26 highway, and 22 mpg combined using the recommended 87 octane fuel. In my week of testing, the mileage around town was 19-21 mpg, and on the highway, I tooled along at 28.9 mpg, which might have gone higher had I not needed to exit.

With the generous 19-gallon fuel tank, thrifty drivers could expect a vacation-driving range of 500 miles or more.

Acceleration force is easy to modulate to maximize mileage or to put the hammer down for evasive action. There is no delay in acceleration response.

An open hood view of the 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6

The 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6. (Kia)

Carnival SX Prestige Ride and Handling

One of the most endearing aspects of minivan ownership is, generally, a forgiving ride quality. The Kia Carnival is especially adept at not tossing heads when pulling into driveways or when transitioning speed bumps.

The suspension is a well-engineered four-wheel independent setup with steel springs and gas-charged shock absorbers. The front has MacPherson struts and a multi-link at the rear.

Ride quality with the 19-inch Goodyear Assurance Finesse tires (235/55) was poised and carpet smooth — traits I did not expect from my past experiences with Goodyear Assurance tires. These tires are affordable and will cost between $220 and $250 each when replaced.

Advantageous is the light weight to the steering and very compact turning circle of 38 feet. It is possible to make a U-turn on most residential streets. Steering control, though light, is entirely on track while cruising at speed.

Four-wheel-disc braking engages with uncommon smoothness and direct engagement. Front and rear rotors are 12.8 inches, with ventilated discs at the front and solid discs rear. These discs are comparable to the competition’s and seem fit to handle a 3,500-pound trailer with brakes.

19-inch Goodyear Assurance Finesse tires and black alloy wheels.

The SX Prestige tester in 19-inch Goodyear Assurance Finesse tires and black alloy wheels.

Why Buy the Kia Carnival?

Minivan marketers have told me that once the children are out of the house, many parents hold onto their weary, old minivan. It’s just too convenient for its size.

If so, the Kia Carnival SX Prestige will be their upgrade minivan. The VIP seats will be a special perk for those travel getaways with friends.

And best of all, the Kia Carnival doesn’t look like a minivan.

The Carnival EX and SX trim levels are the meat and potatoes of family fare. And the package for rear seat entertainment is worth the $1,500 option. It’s the price for 45 minutes of rest time for parents.

A rear view of the Astra Blue Carnival

The Kia Carnival has a very compact turning circle of 38 feet. (Kia)

Kia Carnival SX Prestige Specifications

Body style: large 7- to 8-passenger front-wheel-drive minivan

Engine: 290-hp, direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6; 262 lb.-ft. torque at 5,000 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 19/26/22 mpg; 87 octane

Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds


Fuel tank: 19 gallons

Cargo space: 40.2 to 86.9 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 40.9/41.1 inches

2nd-row head/leg room: 39.5/40.5 inches

3rd-row head/leg room: 38.6/35.6 inches

Length/wheelbase: 203/121.7 inches

Curb weight: 4,727 pounds

Turning circle: 38 feet


SX Prestige standard features, include: smart-key entry and push-button ignition, electric parking brake, surround-view monitor, 12.3-inch dual panoramic displays for driver gauges and navigation, blind-spot view monitors (side mirror image display in driver gauges); smart cruise control with stop-and-go; dual power tilt and slide sunroof; LED projection headlights and LED rear combination lights; LED interior lighting; leather-trimmed upholstery; heated and ventilated front and rear seats; Bose premium audio; heated steering wheel; auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink controls, passenger view (camera) and passenger talk.

Safety features include: 7 air bags (including driver’s knee bag), rear occupant alert with ultrasonic sensors, parking distance warning forward and reverse

Driver-assist technologies, include: forward collision-avoidance assist with cyclist and junction turning; blind-spot collision-avoidance assist; rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; driver attention warning and high-beam assist; lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist; parking collision-avoidance assist reverse; safe exist assist; highway driving assist.


Base price: $47,565, including $1,395 freight charge; price as tested $49,285

Options on test vehicle: Astra Blue paint $495; rear seat entertainment package $1,000; carpeted floor mats $200, for three rows.

Where assembled: Gwangmyeong, Korea

Warranties: 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain; 5-years/60,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance

Read more

Kia Telluride: What’s New for 2023

1,000-mile round-trip road trip in a 2023 Kia Telluride in near-luxury and complete comfort

An exterior view of a 2023 Kia Telluride sport utility vehicle in wolf gray

The 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line tester was $53,825 with options for Wolf Gray paint ($495) and carpeted floor mats ($210). Pricing includes the $1,335 freight charge from West Point, Ga. (Photos by Mark Maynard)

Table of Contents

Road-Trip Ready Telluride
2023 Telluride Pricing
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo Space
V-6 Performance
Ride and Handling
Safety Technologies
What’s New for 2023?
Why Buy the Kia Telluride?


I had just unpacked from a 1,000-mile round-trip road trip in a 2023 Kia Telluride and wasn’t ready for the drive to end. It was a holiday getaway with the girlfriend-wife and her sister and brother-in-law to spend Christmas with the sisters’ brother and wife in Santa Cruz. It was the quintessential getaway of four retirement-age friends rolling along in near luxury and complete comfort.

With its 291-horsepower V-6, there was plenty of power for secure acceleration — with all of us, our gear, and the Telluride’s all-wheel-drive curb weight of 4,482 pounds. Hefting such poundage still returned a combined fuel economy of 21.2 mpg to a max of 25.6 — on the recommended 87 octane.

To call the Telluride an SUV is almost disrespectful. The clumsy term with negative impact has endured from the early truck-based “sport utility” vehicles. And most of these were seldom sporty or provided much utility.

A view through the windshield from the driver's seat on a rainy day.

Sightlines are unobstructed over the fenders and over the shoulder.

Road-Trip Ready Telluride

The test vehicle was an upper trim level Telluride SX-Prestige V-6 with all-wheel drive and the new-for-2023 X-Line treatment. The new X-Line and X-Pro trim levels have some off-roading traits. X-Line and X-Pro trims have a slightly raised ride height (about a third of an inch), 20-inch black wheels, a unique black grille, trailering tow mode, and upgraded traction control for better control on gravel and sand.

Somebody could forgive such a blunt front end for some interior wind noise, but the Telluride is better soundproofed than some luxury SUVs I’ve tested. Conversations do not wash out in a wall of white noise or road harshness, thank you very much in part to the Michelin tires.

With three rows, the Telluride has seats for seven with the second-row captains’ chairs or eight seats with a second-row bench. The three-position third row is kid class in legroom, but it folds flat into the floor, making it ideal for lots of luggage. We could stow all the suitcases, the cooler of homemade foods and goodies for holiday meals, and the presents. It all fit below the rear window line, but if cargo must be stacked to the headliner, the Telluride has a digital rearview camera that gives a wide-open rearward view. (It is a welcome feature when pulling a trailer.)

There is no need for running boards to climb aboard (even with the X-Line lift). And all four of us had captain’s chairs, heated and ventilated, with rear side sunshades. The front seats are power-adjustable, including lumbar, with seat-bottom thigh extension for the driver.

Dual pane sunroofs in the Telluride SX create a light and pleasurable space for passengers.

Dual pane sunroofs in the Telluride SX Prestige.

2023 Kia Telluride Pricing

Telluride is sold in 10 trim levels: LX, S, EX, EX-X-Line, SX, SX-X-Line, SX-X-Pro, SX Prestige, SX Prestige X-Line, SX Prestige X-Pro. Entry-level LX, S, EX trims are front-wheel drive; AWD is optional ($2,000) and includes Michelin tires. Trims of SX and above have standard, active on-demand AWD.

The powertrain for all trims is a 291-horsepower, Atkinson cycle 3.8-liter, direct-injected V-6, and eight-speed automatic transmission. The tow rating is 5,000 pounds or 5,500 for the SX X-Pro.

Starting prices range from $37,025 for the LX to $54,120 for the top-line SX Prestige X-Pro. Today’s SX-Prestige X-Line tester starts at $53,120, and with options for Wolf Gray paint ($495) and carpeted floor mats ($210), the sticker price was $53,825. All manufacturers’ retail pricing includes the $1,335 freight charge from West Point, Ga.

Kia’s new vehicle warranty coverage is 5 years or 60,000 miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance. The powertrain has coverage of 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Find current pricing and incentives here.

Second row legroom in the Telluride is very long at 42.4 inches.

Second-row legroom is grand at 42.4 inches.

Telluride Interior Function

Because the cabin has door-to-door shoulder room of 61.6 inches, interior roominess is maximized.

The contemporary cabin design is open with contemporary with design elements of brushed metal trim and light gray wood in the tester. The plastics have an appealing texture, with attentive assembly to all panels. The headliner, roof pillars, and visors are wrapped in soft microsuede. Large sliding sun visors have large, covered mirrors.

There are 39.5 inches of front headroom and long legroom of 44.1 inches. Sightlines are open and further empowered by the around-view camera. (The Telluride is a big vehicle, but the camera system with an overhead side view is empowering when parking and backing out of the space.)

The shift console is efficiently designed with a large charging bin with a wireless pad, 12-volt plug and two USBs. The drive-mode controller (comfort, sport, smart, eco, etc.) takes up just a small square of space, with the nearby electric parking brake switch.

A heated steering wheel.

A heated steering wheel.

Sturdy grab rails flank each side of the console, and there is yet another USB in the dual-level armrest box.

There is no confusion when reaching for climate controls or to access the navigation system, radio or other media choices. But the navi system was a struggle to use, so we used the Waze smartphone app.

Telluride has almost as many USB ports as cup holders (12). There are up to six USB chargers, five of which are the more modern C-Type. But there is one “old-style” A-Type USB in the e-bin.

Back Seats and Cargo Space

The second-row captain’s chairs are road-trip ready. They recline and, in the SX, are heated and ventilated. Legroom is grand at 42.4 inches maximum. With no step rail, placing a child in a car seat is much easier.

The back side of the front armrest console has a pair of cup holders; down low is a 12-volt plug and a 115-volt, 150-watt household outlet. Plus, there is a charging USB notched into the front seatback sides, with a bag hook in each seatback.

An electronic AC controller in the headliner allows control of fan speed, vent flow, and temperature; the controller panel also packages a pair of large reading lights. The moonroof is a welcome skylight, but it would be nice to have a separate sunshade control switch, not just the main controller up front.

Entry to the third row is via a one-touch button to tilt and slide the captain’s seats, with a nearby grab handle for leverage. The three-seat bench, with legroom of 31.4 inches, is snug for adults but fun for youngsters. The seats recline, and the area is stocked with reading lights, cup or box holders, and two more charging USBs.

The cargo area is 4 feet wide and square with up to 7 feet in length with both rows folded, but the captain’s chairs prevent a contiguous floor, such as for sleeping. Behind the third row is 21 cubic feet of grocery capacity. And below the floor is some usable basement space, with storage for the roller shade.

The second-row seats tip and slide for third-row access.

The second-row seats tip and slide for third-row access.

Telluride’s V-6 Performance

I’ve long believed in electric and electrified vehicles, so a V-6 combustion engine might seem indulgent. But it is an asset for a vehicle of this size. The Telluride’s combustion V-6 uses the Atkinson cycle design for fuel efficiency. Together with auto stop-start at idle, the direct-injected engine can be considered a mild hybrid. With 262 foot-pounds of torque at 5,200 rpm, the power response is unhesitating in Sport mode and guarded in Eco mode.

In this round-trip road trip of almost 1,000 miles, my average fuel economy ranged from 21.2 mpg to a high of 25.6. The sweet spot for interstate cruising with cruise control was a consistent 22.8 mpg. With that mileage, the 18.8-gallon tank could provide a cruising range of around 425 miles.

I couldn’t complain about the fuel economy with a cabin of four adults, tooling along between 70 and 80 mph. The Telluride SX curb weight is 4,524 pounds, plus another 700 pounds or so with people and luggage.

I drove the entire trip in Eco mode, thinking that would stretch the mileage. But I also was surprised to find that Eco mode was capable of stiff acceleration when needed, but it wasn’t all that quick to respond to an urgent demand for get-going power.

The transmission also has modes for Smart, Sport, and Comfort. Each mode applies different calibrations for the engine, transmission, and steering effort.

When I’m creeping along in commuter traffic, I dial up Sport mode. There is enough added kick to guard my line against impatient drivers who have to try to cut in front.

The V-6 Telluride engine.

291 hp and thrifty fuel economy of 18 mpg city, 24 highway and 21 mpg combined.

Telluride AWD Ride and Handling

In Eco mode, the steering weight is comfortable and appreciated when hands are on the wheel for 8 hours. The wheel has an easy roll in tight parking situations but was never vague at speed. And the suspension and Michelin tires help the Telluride track steady at high speeds without wandering. Driving the Telluride SX X-Line — with self-leveling rear suspension — never felt heavy, nor was there body lean in cornering. For my passengers, there was no mention of queasiness — and that’s high praise for a road-trip vehicle or for parents with children prone to motion sickness.

Four-wheel disc brakes are reassuring with 13.4-inch vented rotors front and solid 12-inch rotors rear.

The wide navigation and camera screen in the dashboard

Dual 12.3-inch-wide display screens for driver info and navigation and camera system.

Telluride Safety Technologies

The multi-tasking shift console with e-bin and wireless charging pad.

The multi-tasking shift console with e-bin and charging pad.

Kia’s advanced driver assist systems contribute to a much more relaxed driving experience.

Highway Driving Assist 2 (standard on upper trim levels) is a semi-autonomous system that requires both hands on the wheel. But the vast network of safety technologies functions as an array of eyes to keep the Telluride on course. The system gives accurate lane centering, and not once did the Telluride drift wide in cornering or cross the highway lines or Botts dots.

Among the safety features are seven air bags, navigation-based smart cruise control, and Intelligent Speed Limit Assist. The list of driver-assist technologies is highlighted below in ADAS Technologies.

Active On-Demand AWD

Kia’s active on-demand all-wheel-drive system distributes torque between the front and rear wheels. Depending on road conditions and driver action, the system continually redistributes the amount of power transferred fore and aft.

In everyday driving, Eco and Comfort modes can direct 20 to 35 percent of the power to the rear wheels. Sport, Smart, and Snow modes can deliver up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels. AWD Lock”sends power evenly to all four wheels.

A gloss-black front wheel and Michelin tire on the Telluride with X-Line treatment

The Telluride X-Line gets 20-inch Michelin Primacy 245/50 tires and gloss-black wheels.

What’s New for 2023?

The Kia Telluride was a smash success when it debuted in the spring of 2019 as a 2020 model. It had the right look and the right stance — substantial and engaging. And 2023 brings a range of updates for Telluride.

The 2023 Kia Telluride has some freshened exterior styling, mainly for a more rugged yet refined look, Kia says. Among the tweaks are the following:

  • Revised vertical headlamp design with optional LED headlights and fog lights;
  • New front fascia and grille;
  • Revised taillights and new rear fascia and trim;
  • New wheel designs for every trim;
  • Three new exterior colors: Midnight Lake Blue, Dawning Red, Jungle Green;
  • X-Line trim replaces the former Telluride Nightfall Edition;
  • Downhill Brake Control, which helps keep a controlled descent on steep roads.
The Telluride X-Line has a unique, black grille treatment.

The Telluride X-Line has a unique grille treatment.

New 2023 Convenience Technologies

  • Standard upgraded 12.3-inch navigation screen (increased from 10.3 inches);
  • Optional full display mirror with HomeLink;
  • Optional Smart Power Liftgate with “Auto Close” function;
  • Kia Connect services for embedded connectivity:
  • Available Digital Key: Allows compatible iPhone, Apple Watch, and Samsung Galaxy smart devices to be used as a virtual vehicle key to lock, unlock and drive. Digital keys can be shared with friends and family over text messages on available devices;
  • In-vehicle Wi-Fi Hotspot connects up to five devices to 4G LTE-based internet;
  • Automatic over-the-air updates for maps and infotainment;
  • Kia Access App for Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy smartwatch to access such features as remote climate control and door lock/unlock;
  • Stolen vehicle tracking and immobilization capability;
  • Connected Routing: The server-based system will calculate the optimal route using real-time and predicted traffic information. The cloud system uses past driving information to learn the driver’s preferred route;
  • Smart Speaker Integration: Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant can remotely control some functions, such as remote start.
There is rewarding quality to the stitching and precise alignment of interior panes.

There is rewarding quality to the stitching and precise alignment of interior panes.

Expanded ADAS Technologies

The 2023 Advanced Driver Assist Systems add several new technologies:

Intelligent Speed Limit Assist — ISLA: Can detect a road’s maximum speed limit in some cases, provide alerts to the driver and even limit the speed of the car depending on the settings (standard);

Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control – Curve — NSCC-C: In certain circumstances, the smart cruise control can lower the vehicle’s speed proactively before upcoming curves in the road (available);

Highway Driving Assist 2 — HDA 2: A driving convenience system that helps to maintain a predetermined distance from the vehicle detected in front, keep the vehicle within detected lane markers on certain highways, and assist in lane changes under certain conditions (optional; HDA 1.5 is standard);

Forward Collision Avoidance – Junction Turning — FCA-JT: Detects oncoming vehicles while turning left at an intersection (junction). If the system detects that a collision might be likely, the system may apply the brakes to help slow or stop the car (standard);

Forward Collision Avoidance – Junction Crossing — FCA-JC: Is designed to detect crossing vehicles while passing through an intersection. If the system detects that a collision might be likely, the system may apply the brakes to help slow or stop the car (available);

Forward Collision Avoidance – Lane Change Oncoming — FCA-LO: Designed to give steering input to help prevent collisions if the system detects oncoming vehicles while passing other vehicles (available);

Forward Collision Avoidance – Lane Change Side — FCA-LS: Provides steering input to help prevent collisions if the system detects cycles or vehicles in front of the car while changing lanes (available);

Forward Collision Avoidance – Evasive Steering Assist — FCA-ESA: Gives steering input to help prevent collisions if the system detects obstacles, pedestrians, or vehicles in front of the car while driving straight (available).

Looking through the open driver-side door at the front seats.

Front headroom is tall at 39.5 inches, and the driver seat is 8-way power adjustable.

Why Buy the Kia Telluride?

The Telluride is big but efficient, even nimble for a vehicle that is 16.4 feet long. After 12 hours in the saddle, the seats began to feel like leather saddles. But only seat massagers would have prevented that. Still, I stepped out at fuel stops without stiffness or back pain. And I was always eager to climb aboard and continue the adventure.

After our trip, it was a sad wave goodbye to the Telluride. If it had fit easily in my garage, it would have been a keeper.

A rear three quarter view of the wolf gray Telluride with gloss black alloy wheels.

The Kia Telluride X-Line package adds such features as raised, bridge-type roof rails, body-color door handles, and exclusive 20-inch wheels.

2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line V6 AWD Specifications

Body style: large 7-seat, 5-door SUV

Engine: 291-hp, direct-injected 3.8-liter V-6; 262 lb.-ft. torque at 5,200 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with active on-demand AWD

Fuel economy: 18/24/21 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane recommended


Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

Fuel tank: 18.8 gallons

Cargo space: 21 to 46 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 39.5/41.4 inches

2nd-row head/leg room: 38.8/42.4 inches

3rd-row head/leg room: 37.8/31.4 inches

Length/wheelbase: 196.9/114.2 inches

Width/height: 78.3/ 70.5 (with roof rails) inches

Curb weight: 4,524 pounds

Turning circle: 38.8 feet


Telluride SX-Prestige Standard equipment includes: smart key entry with push-button ignition and remote start, digital key (for smartphone app use), digital rearview mirror, Nappa-leather trimmed seat upholstery, 10-way power front seats with driver-seat memory, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, dual panoramic 12.3-inch panoramic displays with navigation, wireless phone charging pad, surround view monitor and blind-spot view monitor, head-up display, Kia Connect with free 1-year trial, Harman-Kardon audio system;

SX-Prestige exterior features include: 20-inch alloy wheel, dual sunroofs (2nd row fixed), LED headlights, smart power liftgate, power-folding side mirrors with turn signals, roof rails, and rear privacy glass.

Standard safety features and technologies include: 7 air bags, Forward Collision Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian & Cyclist Detection, high beam assist, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind spot collision warning, driver attention warning, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, parking distance warning – reverse, lane following assist, safe exit assist;

Kia Drive Wise Driver-Assist Technologies: Forward collision avoidance (cyclist and junction turning), blind spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, safe exit assist, highway driving assist 2, parking distance warning forward and reverse, smart cruise control with stop-and-go, parking collision avoidance assist, reverse.


Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line base price: $53,120, including $1,335 freight charge; price as tested $53,825

Options on test vehicle: Wolf Gray paint $495; carpeted floor mats $210

Where assembled: West Point, Ga.

Warranties: 5-years/60,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain

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Kia Niro PHEV Review

The second-generation 2023 Kia Niro is sold with electrified powertrains of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric

A new Niro with the broad aero blade at the rear fender

The redesigned 2023 Kia Niro is incrementally larger but still in the compact class. How do you like the black aero blade? (Photos courtesy of Kia America or as credited)

Table of Contents

What’s New for the 2023 Kia Niro?
2023 Kia Niro Pricing
Safety Features
Powertrain and Performance
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
Why Buy the 2023 Kia Niro PHEV ?


The second-generation 2023 Kia Niro has been restyled, resized, and revitalized as a compact, small crossover vehicle. The new Kia Niro continues to be available in electrified powertrains of gasoline-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric. All models have been refined for efficiency and electrified driving range. And as before, Niro is a front-wheel-drive platform with no option for all-wheel drive.

The first-generation Niro was introduced in 2016, based on the same platform as the Hyundai Ioniq. Kia then added plug-in-hybrid and battery-electric models in 2018.

Of Kia’s 13 nameplates, including electrified models, the Niro is a solid midrange player accounting for around 3,000 sales a month. That should satisfy Kia, with Niro price points ranging from $28,000 to about $41,000.

Still, the Kia Niro is an affordable electrified vehicle, whether it be a gasoline-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or full battery-electric.

Compact-class hybrid and electric vehicles include the Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV, Hyundai Ioniq and Hyundai Kona Electric, Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Nissan Leaf, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Toyota Prius Prime.

The front seat area of the redesigned Kia Niro

Interior design is electro-contemporary.

What’s New for the 2023 Kia Niro?

The redesigned exterior styling of the 2023 Niro is a total improvement, giving it a more solid stance and less pinched appearance. And Kia took the bold step to offer an option for a broad black aero blade at the rear fender. The add-on blade at the rear D-pillars is just $195 and creates sort of a two-tone appearance. But the blade design is functional. It has a slim inlet to channel airflow along the body sides and past the tailgate to trim aerodynamic drag.

With other aero treatments, the 2023 Niro has a low drag coefficient of 0.29. For aero comparisons, the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq have drag coefficients of 0.24. The battery-electric Mercedes-Benz EQS 500 4Matic has a Cd of 0.20. And a Ram 1500 pickup has a blunt Cd of 0.36. The lower the drag coefficient, the smoother the vehicle drives through the air, which benefits fuel efficiency.

Dimensionally, the 2023 Niro is still in the compact class, but the five-seater is incrementally larger than the vehicle it replaces. The wheelbase was stretched by 0.8 of an inch to 107.1 inches. Overall length increases by 2.5 inches to 174 inches. The added length benefited cabin openness and cargo space, now 22.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats.

And there were some weight reductions. The 2023 Niro PHEV SX Touring weighs 3,496 pounds, of which 111 pounds are for the hybrid battery. Overall, the new larger Niro is 46 pounds heavier than its predecessor.

The front passenger side of the Niro

The driver has an 8-way power seat, but the passenger gets only a 6-way manual seat.

2023 Kia Niro Pricing

With its trusty gasoline-electric powertrain, the Niro Hybrid has starting prices of $28,000 to $36,000, including the $1,295 freight charge from Hwaseong, South Korea. The hybrid’s estimated fuel-economy ratings are 53 mpg city, 54 highway, and 53 mpg combined, and it has a combined driving range of 588 miles; using the recommended 87 octane fuel.

The Niro EV has trim-level choices of Wind and Wave, with starting prices of $40,745 and $45,745. With its 64.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, the Niro EV has an EPA-estimated driving range of around 253 miles. And the Niro EV is now available in all 50 states.

And the Kia Niro PHEV, today’s tester, is sold in two well-equipped trim levels. The plug-in model has starting prices of $35,035 for the EX and $40,785 for the SX Touring. With its 11.1-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, the plug-in hybrid has a driving range of 31 to 33 miles.

The SX Touring tester came to $41,635. Its options included the black aero blade with Mineral Blue paint, $195; carpeted floor mats ($155); and the Cold Weather package, $500, which adds a heat pump and heated rear window seats; a heat pump uses less energy than traditional radiant heating.

Notable SX Touring features include:

  • Smart key entry with push button ignition and remote start;
  • Perforated SynTex upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats
  • Sunroof;
  • 10.25-inch touchscreen display with navigation;
  • Harmon Kardon audio system;
  • Wireless phone charging pad;
  • 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar and memory presets;
  • 6-way manual front passenger seat with height adjustment;
  • Digital Key (using the smartphone app);
  • Heated steering wheel,

Exterior features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a hands-free power tailgate, roof rails, and LED projector headlights and fog lights.

The charge power on the left front fender.

31 to 33 miles to a charge and about 3 hours to fully recharge.

Kia Warranties

Kia Niro’s warranties include 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain and hybrid battery. Bumper-to-bumper coverage is for 5 years/60,000 miles with roadside assistance.

Find current pricing and available lease or purchase offers here.

Safety and Driver Assist Technologies

The Kia Niro has Level 2 hands-on driver-assist capability. The calibrations for driver assist are consistent in tracking through corners and keeping the Niro centered in the lane. It is a trustworthy system, in my experience, but always keep both hands on the wheel.

Among its Level 2 advanced technologies are:

  • Smart cruise control with stop and Go;
  • Highway Driving Assist;
  • Enhanced auto emergency braking with junction turning detection;
  • Blind spot detection;
  • Rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist;
  • Lane keeping and following assist.
the 18-inch tires and wheels on the Kia Niro.

Run-flat Continental ProContact RX tires are noisy on the interstate. (Mark Maynard)

Niro PHEV Powertrain and Performance

The Niro PHEV pairs a 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder with a 62kW electric motor. Total system output is 180 horsepower and 195 foot-pounds of torque.

Connecting to a Level 2 charger, the Niro PHEV can refill its 11.1-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery in about three hours.

Fully charged, the all-electric range of the Niro PHEV is 31 to 33 miles with 108 MPGe combined. Kia says the mileage improved by 25 percent over the previous model. Gasoline-only mileage is 48 mpg combined city/highway using 87 octane fuel.

Kia’s plug-in hybrid system switches from battery power to engine intervention for more aggressive driving. And even with a depleted battery, the hybrid system functions as any other hybrid system, giving some short-range and low-speed acceleration, regenerative braking, and auto stop-start at idle.

The six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (DSG) hooks up quickly for forward motion. But shift points can sometimes be abrupt.

When the battery charge ends and the hybrid engine engages, there is little difference in performance. There might be quicker acceleration in EV mode as it lays down power without hesitation.

Over a week of just 64 miles of testing, my average fuel economy was 115 mpg. I barely touched the fuel supply, and each morning after a charge, I was greeted with a readout of 510 miles of driving range. Battery power can be “banked” by combining Hybrid and Sport modes.

180 horsepower from the 1.6-liter four-cylinder and 62kW electric motor.

180 horsepower from the 1.6-liter four-cylinder and 62kW electric motor. (Mark Maynard)

Niro PHEV Charging

Charging a depleted battery took almost 3 hours on my home 240-volt Level 2 charger. Kia includes an alternate charging cable for use on a 110-volt household plug. It can be handy when traveling, but it will take an overnight charge to top off the battery.

Niro PHEV Ride and Handling

Niro’s suspension work is focused on everyday comfort. Steering and braking inputs are tight and reassuring. But the handling is not sporty — nor does it have to be for its mission of fuel economy and crossover function.

Cabin noise, however, is noticeable at interstate speeds, which takes away from the pleasure of the Niro as a daily long-distance commuter. The wall of white noise I noticed is likely from the run-flat Continental ProContact RX tires.

Kia also includes a “Tire Mobility Kit” in case of a flat that might exceed run-flat capability. The kit is just a can of sealant that connects to a little air pump powered by the 12-volt plug in the dashboard. I doubt this system can inflate a flat to road-worthy air pressure, but it might get the driver out of a bind and on the road to a service station.

Back seats of the Niro

Headroom is tall at 39.5 inches, and max legroom of 39.8 inches is outstanding.

Kia Niro Interior Function

Driver sightlines are accommodating across the hood and out the back. Rear views are much improved over the narrow back glass of the previous-gen Niro.

There is newfound elbow and shoulder room in the cabin. And with 6.3 inches of ground clearance, there is a comfortable hip-point for entry and exit. The front seats are reasonably comfortable for longer drives. Mercifully, the seats are without “sporty” side bolstering to firmly hold the driver in enthusiastic driving, such as when getting the kids to school on time.

The interior design is electro-contemporary with some engaging finesse. The appearance is somewhat like the glossy black screen of a smartphone. The dashboard is an asymmetric arc that begins high on the driver’s side (for open gauge views) and to low on the passenger’s side for better sightseeing. Piano black and creative elements of metallic trim influence the modern treatment.

Small storage areas are abundant, including open trays and slots. The shift-dial console has multifunction cup holders, a wireless charging pad, a C-type charging USB, and a 12-volt plug.

But for the tester’s price of nearly $42,000, it seems cheap not to provide a power-adjustable front passenger seat. It might be a weight-saving measure, but there should be the choice of a powered seat. The front passenger seat does, however, have manual seat-height adjustment.

And where’s the audio volume knob? It’s there, in the temperature-control knob, but it takes some fiddling to figure it out. Adjusting the volume and most other cabin controls is a two-touch process to access features.

Give yourself some exploring time to learn the multimodes of electronic settings. Or pay close attention when taking delivery of your Niro.

The open area of the Niro cargo space.

Fold the seatbacks for 5 ½ to 6 feet in length.

Back Seat and Cargo Space

The back seat is simple but comfortable. Headroom is tall at 39.5 inches and the max legroom of 39.8 inches is outstanding, as long as a member of the big-and-tall club is not seated ahead. A low exhaust tunnel allows better center-seat footroom, but the space feels cluttered for anyone not on the way to grade school.

I like how Kia inserts a charging USB in the side seatbacks of the front seats.

The cargo area opening is wide at 42 inches, but floor-to-headliner height is limited at 27 inches for carting tall items. Fold the 60/40 back seat for 5 ½ to 6 feet in length.

There is no subfloor storage or dedicated place to store the alternate charge cable. It lies coiled up on the cargo floor.

Garden nursery items in the cargo area of the Niro.

The cargo entry is wide at 42 inches, but there is no dedicated space to store the alternate charging cable. (Mark Maynard)

Why Buy the 2023 Kia Niro PHEV?

I like seeing a readout of 500 miles of driving range in the morning. The larger 2023 Niro is now big enough for greater family function. And the Niro plug-in is a confidence-building step toward a total EV experience.

Most owners could drive through the workweek with just a few sips of gasoline. And even for longer trips, the Niro PHEV performance is strong with thrifty fuel economy.

The SX Touring tester is fully priced at $41,635, but its added features build a car for rewarding ownership.

2023 Kia Niro PHEV Specifications

Body style: compact, 5-passenger, 5-door front-wheel-drive crossover

Engine: 104-hp 1.6-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder; 106.3 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual with Sport and Hybrid modes

Fuel economy: 48 mpg city/hwy combined; 87 octane

Fuel economy equivalent: 108 MPGe combined city/hwy

EPA-estimated driving range: 31-32 miles (33 miles EX)

Combined driving range: 510 miles

Motor: Permanent Magnet Synchronous

Battery: 60Ah, 360-volt lithium-ion polymer

Battery Power: 83.0 kW

Battery Energy: 11.1 kWh

Top speed: 104 mph

Coefficient of drag: 0.29


Fuel tank: 9.7 gallons

Cargo space: 22.8/63.7 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 40.5/41.5 inches

Rear head/leg room: 39.5/39.8 inches

Length/wheelbase: 174/107.1 inches

Curb weight: 3,496.5 pounds

Turning circle: 34.9 feet


Standard Niro PHEV equipment includes:

Exterior: 18-inch alloy wheels and Continental ProContact RX (225/45) tires, sunroof, smart power tailgate, roof rails, LED projector headlights and fog lights, LED interior lighting;

Interior: 10.25-inch touchscreen display with navigation, Kia Connect, and satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Harmon Kardon audio system, smart key entry with push button start and remote start, wireless phone charging pad, perforated SynTex upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, power driver’s seat with power lumbar and memory presets, 6-way manual front passenger seat with height adjustment, Digital Key (using the smartphone app);

Safety features include: 7 air bags, front and rear parking sensors, driver attention warning with leading vehicle departure alert, high-beam assist, safe exit warning, and stability and traction controls


Niro SX Touring base price: $40,785, including the $1,295 freight charge; price as tested $41,635

Options on test vehicle: Carpeted floor mats $155; Cold Weather package, $500; black aero blade with Mineral Blue paint, $195.

Where assembled: Hwaseong, South Korea

Warranties: 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain; 5-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper coverage with roadside assistance.

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Kia Sorento PHEV SX-Prestige AWD Review

A road trip in a 2023 Kia Sorento plug-in yields 35.2 mpg over 1,225 miles after using 34 miles of battery driving

A forward view of the Kia Sorento PHEV along a marina with sailboats

For 2023, the Kia Sorento PHEV is sold in just one all-wheel-drive trim level with a starting price of $50,185. (Photos courtesy of Kia America)

Table of Contents

Competing PHEV SUVs
Hybrid Battery Charging
Driver-Assistance Systems
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo Space
Why Buy the Kia Sorento PHEV?


Ijust completed a 1,225-mile road trip in the Kia Sorento PHEV and logged an average of 35.2 miles per gallon. Much of the round-trip from San Diego to Sonoma, Calif., was driven at 70 mph with cruise control. I was pleased with the mileage and expect most owners of this all-wheel-drive, midsize SUV with three rows of seating would be, too.

A plug-in hybrid isn’t necessarily the optimum choice for a road trip, but the Sorento is ideal for its comfort and a sense of reinforced safety. With 31- to 34- miles of battery-electric driving, many owners could drive the workweek with minimal emissions, engine firing, and using pricey fuel.

The six-seat Sorento PHEV is rich in premium interior materials and contemporary design. The midsize cabin provides ample space for shoulder width, tall headroom, and a third row that folds flat to the floor. There is plenty of room for luggage and treasures picked up along the way.

The front seats in the Sorento PHEV

The midsize cabin provides ample space for shoulder width and tall headroom.

For daylong driving, the suite of advanced driver-assist systems took away much of the stress in guarding my line. I grew to trust the system, which kept the Sorento well-centered in the lane, including the curves. Steering assist was reassuring and not invasive. And I drove the entire round trip with no dashboard warnings or loud safety alerts: the Sorento and its network of electronics performed flawlessly.

Besides its suite of advanced safety technologies, the Sorento PHEV has solid NHTSA safety ratings:
• 4 out of 5 stars overall
• 4 stars for frontal and rollover crashes
• 5 stars for side-impact protection
• 4.5 stars for rollover protection

Kia Sorento Overview

Redesigned last year, the fourth-generation Kia Sorento is nearly 1.4 inches longer than the previous model, adding to interior space. The body structure was made stronger, which Kia says improved ride, handling, noise, vibration, and harshness.

The body structure is designed with a multi-load path to distribute the impact forces of kinetic energy through the body. Seven air bags are standard with an array of standard and optional safety technologies and advanced driver-assist systems.

As a midsize SUV crossover, the Sorento is part of Kia’s “Plan S” electrification strategy. The lineup of Sorento trim levels is a triple play of four-cylinder powertrains: gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and the plug-in-hybrid.

The base gas-powered Sorento ($31,000) has a choice of a 191-hp, non-turbocharged 2.5 liter or a 281-hp turbocharged version ($37,000); both with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Sorento Hybrid ($38,000) has a turbocharged 227-hp, 1.6-liter engine, and six-speed automatic. And the top-line Sorento PHEV has a 261-hp version of the 1.6-liter engine and six-speed automatic.

A driving gauge shows available miles of electric driving

The plug-in Sorento has an electric driving range of 31 to 34 miles.

Competing Midsize SUV Plug-in Hybrids

  • Hyundai Santa Fe, 31-mile EV range; $41,000-$47,000;
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, 25-mile battery range; $61,000-$69,000;
  • Volvo XC60 Recharge, 19-mile EV range; $59,000-$69,000;
  • Volvo XC90 Recharge, 18-mile EV range; $73,000-$80,000;
  • Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, 21-mile EV range; $71,000;
  • BMW X5 xDrive45e, 31-mile range; $66,000;
  • Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, 17-mile range; $88,000; and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, 15-mile range; $173,000.

*Above MSRPs include AWD and the freight charge.

2023 Kia Sorento Pricing

For 2023, there is just one well-stocked trim level of Sorento PHEV, the SX-Prestige with all-wheel drive. And it has a one size fits all starting price of $50,185, including the $1,295 freight charge from Korea. With two options for Snow White Pearl paint ($445) and carpeted floor mats ($210), the as-tested price was a reasonable $50,840 (though there likely will be pricing surcharges at the dealership and a possible “protection” package that could add more to the sticker price).

A cargo cover, $190, would be a smart addition, as would a cargo-area mat, $115, which might help with soundproofing in an open cargo area.

Kia Sorento warranties include 10-years/100,000-miles of coverage for the powertrain and hybrid battery. Bumper-to-bumper coverage is for 5-years/60,000-miles with roadside assistance.

Find current pricing and available lease or purchase offers here.

The Sorento's panoramic roof

The panoramic roof as skylight.

Sorento SX-P Upgrades

Kia loaded the 2023 Sorento PHEV SX-P with desirable standard features. Among them:

  • 3-row seating with second-row captain’s chairs;
  • Perforated leather seat upholstery;
  • All-wheel-drive with torque vectoring;
  • 19-inch alloy wheels;
  • 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster (a first for any Kia SUV);
  • Surround View Monitor, using four cameras to create a 360-degree perspective around the vehicle;
  • Blind View Monitor projects live video view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster, activated via the turn signal;
  • Electrochromic rearview mirror.

Other standard Sorento PHEV features include:
•Smart key with push-button start and remote start (from key fob).
•Eight USB charging ports.
•10.25-inch high-resolution color touchscreen display with navigation and Kia’s UVO telematics link.
•Satellite radio.
•Wireless smartphone charging pad.
•12-speaker Bose Centerpoint sound system.

The Sorento shift console is a multifunction desktop of organization.

A multifunction desktop of organization.

Sorento PHEV Performance

According to the EPA, the Sorento PHEV’s combined gasoline-electric driving range can be as high as 460 miles. But in my experience, the most driving range I achieved, according to the onboard computer, was 390 miles. That factored the 31 miles of a fully charged battery and 359 miles from the gas engine.

After switching from battery power to engine, the EPA mileage ratings, using 87 octane fuel, are 35 mpg city, 33 highway, and 34 mpg combined, or a combined 79 MPGe rating.

Filling the fuel tank of 12.4 gallons with 87 octane wasn’t overly painful. Gas prices ranged from $5.99 per gallon at the start of my trip to $6.59 and almost $7 by week’s end. The price of unleaded 87 octane had jumped by $1 since I’d filled up for the trip.

Finessing the Fuel

Kia’s plug-in hybrid system switches from battery power to engine intervention for more aggressive driving. And even with a depleted battery, the hybrid system functions as any other hybrid system, giving some short-range and low-speed acceleration, regenerative braking, and auto stop-start at idle.

Because Kia uses a traditional, stepped six-speed automatic transmission, there is no delay in forward motion.

Driving with battery power lifts the performance noticeably. Acceleration is more absolute off the line and continues quickly up to highway speeds. After the transition to gasoline, the turbocharged four-cylinder is quite capable at hefting the Sorento PHEV’s curb weight of 4,537 pounds, which includes 309 pounds for the hybrid battery.

Torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (cornering control) includes a locking center differential. If the system detects wheel slippage, it reroutes power between the front and rear axles and applies subtle braking pressure to the left and right wheels to help maintain traction.

A view of the open engine and hybrid features in the Sorento engine bay

The Sorento PHEV has a 66.9 kW electric motor and a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that combine for 261 horsepower.

Charging the Hybrid Battery

The 14 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery can be recharged in two to three hours or more, Kia says. And all of my charging sessions for a depleted battery took four hours. That is too long for a stop during a road trip, so most of my driving was on gasoline with some input from the hybrid system. I tried to charge in Sonoma, but the public charging station I visited had four charge stations, three of which were “unavailable.” Two other EV drivers had pulled in, and we shared gripes about the poor maintenance of public charging in general. The one functioning charger was occupied by a fully charged car, but no owner was in sight.

For those over-the-river trips to friends and family, Kia includes a heavy-duty charging cable that can be plugged into a household outlet. Plan on nine hours for a full charge.

Driver-Assistance Systems

I am a hands-on driver when using driver-assist systems. It takes time to develop trust in these electronics. Still, Kia’s assistance calibrations were accurate and prevented the Sorento from drifting across lane lines, and it even tracked well when the lane lines were disrupted or decayed.

The Sorento PHEV has an expansive network of Kia Drive Wise Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, including:

Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist — Rear with parallel exit: Under certain conditions, the system can detect vehicles traveling in the next lane. When a vehicle is “seen” in the blind spot, it brakes the outer wheel to help return the vehicle to its lane.

Forward Collision Warning: Designed to detect a vehicle ahead and to calculate distance and closing speed. The system will fire off an alert if it senses a potential frontal collision.

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist — Junction Turning: As the driver brakes to prevent a collision, the system can lessen the effects when turning left and an oncoming vehicle is approaching.

Highway Driving Assist: Uses federal highway speed limit information from the navigation system and, under certain conditions, will automatically adjust speed to be within the posted speed limit.

Intelligent Speed Limit Assist: Automatically changes the set speed of Smart Cruise Control by using the speed limit information detected through the front camera or GPS navigation information.

Lane Following Assist: Follows lane markings with steering inputs to help maintain lane-centering.

Navigation-Based Smart Cruise Control — Curve: The system can reduce vehicle speed proactively before upcoming curves.

Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist: When approaching cross traffic is detected, the system alerts the driver and can apply the brakes.

A shot of the 19-inch tire and wheel package for the Sorento plug in hybrid

Alloy wheels and 19-inch all-season Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires are standard.

Sorento PHEV Ride and Handling

Sorento’s steel-spring suspension (front MacPherson struts with a multilink rear) capably handles the hefty curb weight. Straight-line ride quality is quite smooth, and I could sense the engineering for low friction and extended glide. However, there is noticeable head toss when turning into driveways or navigating speed bumps.

The 19-inch Continental CrossContact LX Sport 235/55 tires are very compliant with a comfortable treadwear rating of 480, which translates to a 50,000-mile warranty.

Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes have 12.8-inch rotors front and rear. Pedal response is refined and regeneration is well modulated without unexpected grabbiness.

Kia Sorento Interior Function

There appears to have been a generous budget to make the Sorento PHEV more luxurious than some entry-luxury vehicles. The cabin is rich in premium materials, neatly stitched leather, and soft surfaces for elbows. The black woven headliner is calming without making the cabin feel closed in.

Driver sightlines are open at the side mirrors by the small corner glass. Over-the-shoulder glances are compromised by the second-row headrests of the captain’s chairs. But the restricted view was of no consequence with the around-view camera system and Kia’s nifty turn-signal camera views, left or right.

Front headroom is tall at 40.3 inches with long legroom of 41.4 inches.

Fourteen-way power front seats are comfortably bolstered and well-stuffed to handle a tankful of road-trip driving. The seats include a newly added thigh extender, so tall drivers should be able to find an optimum position.

The center shift console is a multi-use desktop. The shift module anchors the rotary shift dial and performance-control selections (Eco, Sport, Smart). The wireless charging pad, two charging USBs, and a data-media USB are just ahead on the console.

Driver information is easily viewed on the 12-inch-wide screen, which can be configured to show a range of functions. But there is a lot of information to fit in the smallish gauge dials.

Infotainment selections are separated from the 10.25-inch touchscreen with AC and vent controls below.

Especially appreciated are the second-tier air vents, four of them across the dashboard. A female friend once told me that she bought her SUV because it had crotch-cooling vents, and the Sorento’s venting should have the same effect.

A door panel in the Sorento PHEV shows contemporary design and materials.

Sorento PHEV is rich in premium interior materials and contemporary design.

Kia Sorento Back Seats and Cargo Space

Legroom in the second row is impressively long at 40.3 inches with headroom of 39.1 inches. And the expansive pano roof creates an enjoyable space. But the seat bottoms of the captain’s chairs might feel downsized to upsized adults.

A flat second-row floor adds to a sense of openness. And the seats have several inches of fore-aft slide with seatback recline.

Second row legroom is long at 40.3 inches but seat bottoms are short.

Legroom is long at 40.3 inches but seat bottoms are short.

Third-row space is kid-class, but with easy access.

Third-row space is kid-class, but with easy access.

Access to the pair of third-row seats is by an easy-to-operate tilt and slide second row. Legroom is kid-class at 29.6 inches (or less if the second-row seats are not moved forward). However, the space is accommodating with a USB charge port on each side, and a cup-mug holder and a burger-snack slot.

Large corner glass is a humane child-tending addition for ambient light.

The cargo area has wide access of 44 inches with 30 ½ inches of entry height. Fold the third-row seats for 41 inches of square and flat cargo space. Handy straps on the back of the seats make them easy to pull back into position.

Or fold both rows of seats for almost 7 feet in length (if the front passenger seat is moved forward).

There is some subfloor storage, but it’s not large enough to stow the charging cable.

The Sorento’s third row that folds flat to the floor.

The Sorento’s third row that folds flat to the floor.

Why Buy the Kia Sorento PHEV?

A plug-in hybrid is a half-step to total battery-electric driving. For many drivers, a plug-in will be a smart choice until battery technology advances to provide more than 300 miles of cost-effective range.

The Kia Sorento Hybrid is also a good family choice. It is less expensive with fuel economy ratings of 39/35/37 mpg in front drive or 36/33/36 mpg AWD. But it does not have the value-added asset of fuel-price protection.

A range of 31 to 34 miles is almost like getting a free gallon of gas every day from the Kia Sorento PHEV. And for those owners with a home charger, there is the reassurance of always having a full “tank.”

the rear quarter panel for the charging port.

The Sorento PHEV plug port is at the rear quarter panel.

2023 Kia Sorento PHEV SX-AWD Specifications

Body style: midsize 6-seat, 5-door SUV with active on-demand 4WD

Engine: 177.2-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder; 195.4 lb.-ft. torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm

Hybrid System: 89.8 hp permanent magnet motor with 360-volt, 14 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery

Total system power: 261 hp and 258 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Battery-electric driving range: 31-34 miles

Total driving range: 460 miles, maximum (390 miles observed)

MPGe fuel economy equivalent: 54/48/52 mpge city/hwy/combined; regular unleaded fuel

Engine-only fuel economy: 35/33/34 mpg; 87 octane recommended

Top speed: 74.6mph in EV mode; 120 mph for ICE

0-62 mph acceleration: 8.7 seconds

Towing capacity: 1,654 pounds with an unbraked trailer


Fuel tank: 12.4 gallons

Cargo space: 12.6 to 38.5 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 40.3/41.4 inches

2nd-row head/leg room: 39.1/40.3 inches

3rd-row head/leg room: 36.8/29.6 inches

Length/wheelbase: 189.4/110.8 inches

Curb weight: 4,537 pounds (including 309 lbs. for the hybrid battery)

Turning circle: 37.9 feet


Standard Sorento equipment includes: smart-key entry with push-button ignition and remote start, power and heated front seats, 2nd-row captain’s chairs, one-touch slide and fold 2nd-row seats10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and MapCare, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps; UVO link with a free trial; satellite radio 3-month free trial; 4.2-inch supervision cluster, USB charging in all 3 rows

Standard Sorento exterior equipment: 19-inch wheels; hands-free liftgate; roof rails; LED projector headlights, fog, and taillights; heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators .

Sorento SX-P AWD features include: surround-view monitor, blind-spot view monitor, Bose premium audio, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, perforated leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-folding side mirrors, parking collision-avoidance assist-reverse, multi power adjustable driver’s seat with memory.

Safety features include: 7 air bags (including driver’s knee bag), rear occupant alert with ultrasonic sensors, stability and traction controls

Driver-assist technologies: forward collision avoidance (cyclist and junction turning), blind-spot collision avoidance assist-rear; rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, intelligent cruise control with stop and go; lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist, parking distance warning, forward and reverse


Base Kia Sorento PHEV price: $50,185, including $1,295 freight charge; price as tested $50,840.

Options on test vehicle: Snow White Pearl paint $445; carpeted floor mats $210.

Where assembled: Hwasung, Korea

Warranties: 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain; 5-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper coverage with roadside assistance.

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Kia Sportage Hybrid Review

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid emphasizes the human in the interface between driver and machine

An exterior view of a Vesta Blue 2023 Kia Sportage

The 2023 Kia Sportage is now in its fifth generation, and completely redesigned and re-engineered. (Photos courtesy of Kia Motors)

Table of Contents

5 Cool Things
Powertrains and Fuel Economy
Kia Sportage Hybrid Performance
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
Why Buy the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid?


The Kia Sportage could have been put out of its misery after its 1995 debut in the U.S. This little SUV was the second model in the Kia lineup after the born-to-be-a-beater Sephia small sedan.

From my first test drive of the inaugural five-door Sportage, I remember the paint drips, the spongy seats, and the flimsy construction. But it was cheap to buy, its utility was family-friendly, and it had a can-do driving personality. It even had a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which at the time went beyond the coverage of most other brands.

The mid-1990s was the frontier for new small SUVs. The Kia Sportage was up against the already popular Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Yet, the Korean upstart endured and has taught some tricks to its competitors.

Today, more than 30 subcompact and compact SUVs are for sale in the U.S. And the 2023 Kia Sportage is now in its fifth generation, completely redesigned and re-engineered.

Since launching the first Sportage, Kia now sports five SUVs ranging from subcompact to large and battery electric (EV6). There are 12 models in the Kia lineup, of which seven are electrified or battery electric.

Among the competitors of the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid are the Honda CR-V Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

An interior view of the Sportage front seats

Front headroom is reasonably tall at 37.8 inches with the panoramic sunroof.

2023 Kia Sportage Overview

The Sportage has gone from one of the smallest SUVs in its class to one of the largest, Kia says. Its overall length is 7.1 inches longer than the previous generation, with a 3.4-inch longer wheelbase.

The new Sportage is a half-inch taller and wider. Kia says the Sportage has class-leading rear legroom of 41.3 inches and best-in-class rear cargo capacity of 39.5 cubic feet when factoring in the dual-level cargo floor.

Kia moved the new Sportage chassis to the latest third generation “N3” platform of the Sorento midsize SUV. Building this compact SUV on a midsize foundation creates a rigid base and better driving dynamics, Kia says.

Using more “hot-stamped parts” and ultra-high-strength steel increased tensile strength and torsional stiffness. The result minimizes road, wind, and engine noise. And for a more traffic-calmed cabin, more sound-absorbing and insulating materials were added.

The larger Sportage is a market separator from Kia’s smaller SUVs, the Seltos and Niro.

White SynTex leatherette upholstery

SynTex leatherette upholstery is relaxed to the touch but feels durable.

2023 Kia Sportage Pricing

America loves a choice for just about any product and the 2023 Kia Sportage choices. It is available in seven trim levels with gasoline, hybrid, and (soon) plug-in hybrid powertrains. New for 2023 are two new “adventure-ready” X-Pro trim levels.

With standard all-wheel drive, the Sportage X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige have a 1.5-inch boost in ground clearance. X-Line models also have unique body and interior trims and options for new 19-inch all-terrain tires and the multi-terrain mode AWD system.

Sportage starting prices range from $27,285 for the LX front-wheel-drive model to $38,085 for the AWD X-Pro Prestige model.

The Sportage Hybrid has three trim levels of LX, EX, and SX-Prestige. Base pricing ranges from $28,585 for the LX FWD to $37,485 for the SX-Prestige AWD.

Today’s 2023 Sportage EX AWD tester came to $33,940 with options for the EX Premium package ($1,500) and carpet floor mats ($500).

The EX Premium package adds:

  • Panoramic sunroof with power sunshade.
  • Smart power tailgate;
  • LED interior lighting;
  • Dual illuminated sun visor vanity mirrors

Vehicle MSRPs include the $1,295 freight charge. Gasoline models are built at West Point, Ga.; electrified models are built in Gwangju, Korea.

Find current Kia Sportage pricing and incentives here.

The digital driver area of the Kia Sportage Hybrid.

The digital driver area of the Kia Sportage Hybrid.

5 Cool Things About Sportage

Driving range of more than 500 miles for the Sportage Hybrid.

Coat hanger re-imagined. A molded coat hanger behind the front headrests has a quasi-valet function. The plastic molded hangers give good collar support, but Kia also added a hook for a shopping bag or for organizing charging cables just below on the seatback. The robust coat hanger is a natural grip for back-seat occupants to use for a bit of leverage on exit.

8 standard Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. Included are the newly available 360-degree Surround View Monitor with 3D View and live feed Blind-Spot View Monitor in the instrument cluster.

Leading Vehicle Departure Alert. For those too busy answering texts at the stoplight, the Sportage gives a chime to notify that the vehicle ahead is pulling away.

Dual level cargo floor. It adds 5 cubic feet in the low position and drops the floor about 3 1/2 inches. Floor-to-headliner height grows from 29 inches to 32 ½.

The very useful molded coat hanger on the front seatbacks.

The plastic molded coat hanger.

he seatback USB port and hook for a grocery bag or the organize a charging cable.

And the seatback USB port and bag hook.

Design Styles

Kia’s “Opposites United” exterior design “philosophy” applies smooth, soft surfaces offset by rugged, sheer forms. The treatment combines off-road confidence with cutting-edge modern cues, Kia says.

Design identifiers include Kia’s Tiger nose grille that spans the entire width of the front fascia. “Boomerang” daytime running lights push the uniquely shaped headlights to the outer corners. And angular fenders imply a sharp and strong presence, Kia says. The futuristic “notch-shaped” taillights connect by a thin black graphic across the tailgate.

Big sky views with the panoramic sunroof, in the EX premium package.

Big sky views with the panoramic sunroof, in the EX premium package.

2023 Kia Sportage Powertrains

The base, nonturbocharged, direct-injection 187-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine replaces the outgoing 181-hp, 2.4-liter engine with direct injection. A new eight-speed automatic transmission replaces a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy ratings on the recommended 87 octane are 25/32/28 mpg city/highway/combined for front-wheel drive and 23/28/25 mpg AWD. (The 2.4-liter had fuel economy ratings of 23/30/26 mpg FWD and 21/25/23/ AWD.)

The 2023 Sportage Hybrid has a combined 227-hp from the turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder and front and rear permanent magnet synchronous hybrid motors. The lithium pouch-style battery pack has 270 volts and 1.49kWh of energy.

The six-speed automatic transmission helps provide AWD fuel-economy ratings of 38/38/38 mpg on the recommended 87 octane. Front-drive hybrid Hybrid models have mileage ratings of 42/44/43 mpg city/highway/combined.

Around-town driving in my test week, returned mileage in the mid-20s to the mid-40s. My highway mileage ratings were 36 to 41 mpg on average. The 13.7 gallon fuel tank will provide a generous cruising range of 500 to 520 miles.

The soon-to-be-released 2023 Sportage PHEV builds on the hybrid model’s powertrain. Its 177-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is supplemented by a 66.9kW electric motor and 13.8 kWh lithium-polymer battery. It has a targeted battery-electric driving range of 32 miles. Sales are expected to begin in July 2022 with pricing expected to start at around $35,000.

The 227-hp Sportage Hybrid powertrain has highway mileage ratings of 38 mpg with AWD or 44 mpg with front-drive.

The 227-hp Sportage Hybrid powertrain has highway mileage ratings of 38 mpg with AWD or 44 mpg with front drive. (Mark Maynard)

Kia Sportage Hybrid Performance

The roll-on of hybrid power is linear and forceful. There are driver-selectable drive modes of Eco, Sport, Smart, and Snow (AWD only). The system defaults to Eco mode on start up, but I got the best fuel economy in Smart mode, which monitors driving style for the most efficient performance.

While paddle shifters are standard on the Sportage Hybrid, I did not feel the need to use them. There is an element of deceleration braking, which is useful to reduce on-and-off throttle use. The engineering of throttle uptake, braking engagement, and steering response is balanced and reassuring to the driver.

Low-rolling resistance Goodyear Assurance Finesse tires on the Sportage Hybrid

Low-rolling resistance Goodyear Assurance Finesse tires, 235/60 18-inch.

 Sportage AWD Ride and Handling

The Sportage suspension is tuned for comfort, not sportiness — and that is an asset for this glorified family wagon. The independent suspension uses front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink setup with gas-pressurized shock absorbers front and rear. The ride can feel bouncy over city street transitions and lumpy sections of road, but it is never sloppy.

The ride quality is cushioned by the robust sidewall of the 235/60 18-inch Goodyear Assurance Finesse tires. These are all-season low-rolling-resistance tires to aid fuel economy, and they are not hard-rolling or squirmy in emergency maneuvers. (17-inch tires and wheels are standard on front-drive models.)

The active on-demand all-wheel-drive system, with terrain modes, is fully automatic with no driver engagement. The system routes power between the front and rear wheels depending on road and driving conditions.

Braking force is absolute from the 12.6-inch front rotors and 11.9-inch rear rotors. And the regenerative action of the braking is not noticeable.

The Sportage gearshift dial

The shifter console has tool-box function.

Driver Assist Technologies

All models of the 2023 Sportage have a suite of driver-assist technologies. Among them:

  • Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist with Car, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection;
  • Blind Spot Detection;
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist;
  • Lane Keeping and Following;
  • Driver Attention Warning with Leading Vehicle Departure Alert;
  • Rear Parking Sensors;
  • High Beam Assist.

For more semi-autonomous driving (two hands on the steering wheel), the EX model includes Blind Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance-Assist.

The e-bin with wireless charging.

The e-bin with wireless charging.

Kia Sportage Interior Function

The Sportage interior reflects the design of high-end outdoor products, furniture, and modern architecture, Kia says. The treatment is intended to transform the cabin into a pleasant living space, complete with near-luxury, thoughtful features.

And it is a pleasant space, very well soundproofed, and with many details to emphasize the human in the machine interface. The most noticeable noise is the HVAC fan.

But it also is a highly digital space. Some functions of the infotainment screen require a two-finger tap that can take eyes away from the road.

The upper trim levels of the Sportage have a panoramic curved display that connects two 12.3-inch screens. One is the driver’s digital instrument cluster; the other is for infotainment and cabin controls, top center in the instrument panel.

Front headroom is reasonably tall at 37.8 inches with the panoramic sunroof (in the EX Premium package) or 39.6 inches without the sunroof.

“Boomerang” style running lights of the Sportage

“Boomerang” style running lights.

Asymmetrical Shift Console

The shift console has tool-box function to smartly arrange all the little things American drivers use every day:

  • Engine start button
  • Self-parking camera
  • Wireless charging
  • 2 USB charging ports (including one C-type
  • Seat heaters

A pair of deep cup holders can be segmented by a nifty spring-activated grip for smaller cups or cans or leave the space open to secure a tablet.

The gear selector is a low and broad dial, but it will take some initial focus to rotate the dial. The lower trim levels have a traditional shift lever.

The EX cabin is well dressed in quality trim materials. SynTex leatherette (“animal-free”) upholstery is relaxed to the touch but feels durable. Perforated centers take the sweat from summer, but the Sportage EX does not have ventilated front seats.

The driver seat is 10-way power adjustable with lumbar support. But the front passenger has only a four-way manually adjusted seat.

From my testing of other higher trim level Kia models, I missed having a front power passenger seat, a front parking sensor, and the blind-spot view monitor. The blind-spot views activate in the gauge array, either left or right when the turn signals are used. And for the tester’s almost $34,000 price, it would not have been excessive to expect a cargo area roller cover, which is “available” for $150.

To get a front (eight-way) power passenger seat and front AND rear parking sensors requires moving up a trim level to the SX Prestige. It starts at $37,485, but floor mats and a roller cargo cover are still optional.

The Sportage back seats have long legroom of 41.3 inches

Back seat space is relaxed with long legroom and a reclining seatback.

Back Seat and Cargo Space

The back seat legroom in the Sportage is some of the longest in a passenger vehicle at 41.3 inches. Even with tall occupants in the front seats, there is adult leg space and footroom.

But three across on the 60/40 folding rear bench makes the space feel more subcompact than compact. And like nearly every rear bench seat, the center position is best as a short-run position or for the neighbor kid on a summer evening ice cream run. A low hump to the transmission-exhaust tunnel helps center seat footroom, but it is still a narrow, no-elbow-room position. The window seats are the best, separated by the cushy fold-down armrest with can holders.

There is an easy-fold function to the seatbacks. The seat-base handle, rather than a release tab at the top of the seatback, is for handier for an occupant to ease back the seat a few inches, or fold the seatback completely for cargo.

Cargo space is broad and tall, with an assist from the dual-level floor. The opening is 45 inches wide by 29 inches tall for 34.5 cubic feet behind the back seat. And the dual-level floor adds about 3 ½ inches more height in the low position. Fold the 60/40 seatback for 6 feet in length.

Cargo space is flexible with the dual-level floor.

Cargo space is flexible with the dual-level floor.

Why Buy the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid?

The 2023 Kia Sportage has evolved to the top tier of family-life small SUVs. Its fuel economy will be a top attention-getter for motorists in the market. And the EX tester is a defining statement of “premium” materials, durable construction, and smart engineering. There are less expensive small SUVs, but few that compare to the Sportage Hybrid’s interior appearance and easy drivability.

Sportage owners considering the 2023 model will immediately appreciate the languid stretch of cabin space. It is a more horizontal environment rather than the vertical cabin orientation before. The tailgate glass is taller for better views, and the ride quality is far smoother, too.

The design is a study in providing special small features and details that make this small SUV a keeper. But there were a couple of missing details on the Sportage EX tester that prevented it from being a keeper for me (and her).

The girlfriend-wife did not like the “sitting in a bucket” front passenger seat. And a front parking sensor would take the creep out of edging closer to our garage door — and an inadvertent “Oops, too far.”

There is a $3,000 price difference between EX versions of the gas and hybrid models. But the value difference between the two powertrains is the enjoyable performance of the Sportage Hybrid with its much better fuel economy.

It might be worth considering the Sportage SX Prestige for those who plan to keep their new Sportage for the life of the powertrain and hybrid battery warranties: 10-years/100,000-miles.

A rear view of the 2023 Sportage

The 2023 Sportage shares the midsize chassis of the Kia Sorento SUV.

2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid Specifications

Body style: compact, 5-seat, 5-door SUV

Engine: 177-hp, turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter 4-cylinder; 195 lb.-ft. torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Fuel economy: 38/38/38 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane or higher

Motor: 44kW permanent magnet synchronous; 59.3 hp from 1,600-2,000 rpm, 195 lb.-ft. torque from 0-2,100 rpm

Battery: 1.49kWh lithium-ion (pouch type); 5.5Ah, 270-volt;

Total system power: 227-hp, 258 lb.-ft. torque


Fuel tank: 13.7 gallons

Cargo space: 34.5-65.4 cubic feet; cargo floor in low position, 39.5-73.7

Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds with trailer brakes; 1,653 w/unbraked trailer

Front head/leg room: 37.8*/41.4 inches *39.6 inches without sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 37.8*/41.3 inches *39.1 inches without sunroof

Length/wheelbase: 183.5/108.5 inches

Curb weight: 3,896 pounds

Turning circle: 38.6 feet


Standard equipment includes: Smart key locking with push-button ignition and remote start, 12.2-inch driver instrument display, 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display with navigation and Kia Connect, wireless phone charger, power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, SynTex seat upholstery, heated front seats, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, front and rear USB-C charging ports, electronic parking brake with auto-hold, 18-inch alloy wheels and temporary spare, heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and taillights

Safety features include: 6 air bags, electronic stability and traction controls, downhill brake control, and hill-start assist


Sportage EX base price: $32,285, including $1,295 freight charge; price as tested $33,940

Options on test vehicle: EX premium package $1,500; carpeted floor mats $155

Where assembled: Gwangju, Korea

Warranties: 5-years/60,000-miles bumper to bumper basic coverage with roadside assistance; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain; 10-years/100,000-miles hybrid battery

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Kia EV6 Review

The 2022 Kia EV6 battery-electric is a visual blitz of aerodynamic origami for the electrified era

An exterior view of the EV6

Buyers of the battery-electric 2022 Kia EV6 will receive a charging credit of 1,000 kWh, useable over 3 years. (Photos courtesy of Kia America)

Table of Contents

Developing the Kia EV6
EV6 Exterior Design
5 Cool Things
Kia EV6 Pricing
Incentives and Rebates
Powertrain and Charging
Onboard Generator
EV6 Performance
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Why Buy the Kia EV6?
2022 Kia EV6 Wind Specifications


The speedline styling of the 2022 Kia EV6 gives it a car-of-the-future mystique. But beneath its steel exterior and neural network of electrification, is the familiar function of a “normal” car. If you are comfortable navigating a smartphone, this car will be a quick study — but not all is simple with some of the electronic controls.

Developing the EV6

The battery-powered Kia EV6 crossover SUV signals the beginning of the brand’s transformative “Plan S” electrification strategy. Kia says it will deliver 11 new electrified models across the world by 2026.

Starting with the EV6, Kia’s EV lineup will have the “EV” designation followed by a number that indicates the car’s position in the lineup.

The E-GMP modular platform will allow multiple vehicle segments — sedans, CUVs, SUVs — with dual-motor options for all-wheel drive.

It is an adaptable foundation with a long wheelbase and wide stance, Kia says. The EV6 has the same 114.2-inch wheelbase as the full-size Kia Telluride SUV. And the liftback EV6 compares with the width of a Ford Mustang Mach E and the wheelbase and ground clearance of a Tesla Model Y.

The EV6 shares powertrain elements and some technologies with corporate partner Hyundai and its just-released IONIQ5, but the two EVs are distinct in styling and footprint. The EV6 is 1.8 inches longer than IONIQ5 and narrower by just .04 inch. The EV6 wheelbase is shorter by 3.9 inches, and the roofline is lower by 2.2 inches.

An overhead view of the Kia EV6

Features of the EV6 GT-Line include a sunroof and monochromatic paint.

EV6 Exterior Design

Exterior design of the EV6 was a collaborative effort between all three of Kia’s global studios: Namyang, Korea; Frankfurt, Germany; and Irvine, Calif.

The appearance is a visual blitz of aerodynamic origami for the electrified era.

  • A series of slash lines above and below the headlights are the daytime running lights. Kia says the treatment defines the car’s “Digital Tiger Face,” which carries over from Kia’s “Tiger Nose Grille.”
  • The smooth rise of the hood with fender-top bulges flows up and over the swept-back windshield to the slant of the rear tailgate.
  • Crossover-inspired side profile . A character line runs along the bottom of the doors and curves upward toward the rear wheel arches to visually elongate the profile of the car.
The 'Digital Tiger Face' of the Kia EV6

The ‘Digital Tiger Face.’

5 Cool Things About the EV6

  • Dual 12.3-inch-wide digital display screens for driver information and navigation-media.
  • 800-volt multicharging architecture allows ultra-fast DC charging from 10 percent to 80 percent charge (up to 210 miles range) in less than 18 minutes.
  • An upcoming high-performance EV6 GT will have 576 horsepower and is capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in less than 3.5 seconds, Kia says.
  • 21 standard active advanced driver assistance systems. Semi-autonomous driver capabilities include Highway Driving Assist 2.
  • Onboard power generator, known as Vehicle-to-load (V2L) functionality. Owners can use the EV6 battery as an emergency power source.
The power-opening charge door of the EV6.

The power-opening charge door.

 2022 Kia EV6 Pricing

The Kia EV6 is sold in three rear-wheel-drive trim levels of Light, Wind, and GT-Line; all-wheel drive is available for the Wind and GT-Line. The transmission is a single-speed reduction gear with drive modes of Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow.

Starting prices range from $42,155 for Light, $48,750 for Wind RWD (add $3,900 for all-wheel drive), and $52,455 for the GT-Line RWD or $57,155 with AWD. Pricing includes the $1,255 freight charge from Hwasung, Korea.

Standard equipment on all EV6 trim levels is substantial to support the pricing. Among the features is smart-key entry with push-button ignition (and remote start). Navigation-based smart cruise control has stop-and-go function. And dual 12.3-inch-wide digital display screens (one screen is for driver information, the other for navigation-media) have a panoramic presence. There also are five USB ports (four USB-C charging ports and 1 USB-A media port) and a wireless phone charging pad. The front seats are heated and the driver has an eight-way power-adjustable seat with lumbar.

Also standard is Kia Connect smartphone connection via app. Users have access to lock or unlock the car, remote climate control for preheating or precooling, vehicle charging, Find My Car, and stolen vehicle recovery.

Check here for current Kia EV6 pricing.

The Kia EV6 GT-Line driver area

The EV6 GT-Line driver area with non-animal leather upholstery.

EV6 Trim-Level Details

The EV6 Light trim level has a smaller battery and a shorter driving distance. Inside, the black interior is dressed in recycled fabric and vegan leather (or pleather). Paint colors are limited to just two no-cost choices (Interstellar Gray and Gravity Blue) with a $495 option for Snow White Pearl.

EV6 Wind

For another $6,595, the Wind brings a significant boost of features. The big assets are a bigger battery, a bigger motor, and a 310-mile all-electric driving range, 78 miles farther than the base model.

The Wind also adds the onboard power generator (V2L), gloss-black exterior accents, ventilated front seats, vegan-leather upholstery, an eight-way power front passenger seat with lumbar support, 14-speaker Meridian audio system, smart power tailgate, park-distance warning forward and reverse, and tow-package wiring.

The rear-drive Wind tester was $48,750 with one option for Glacier paint (sort of a faint gray), $495.

EV6 GT-Line

As the top-line model, the GT-Line includes all the features of the Wind, plus exterior and interior upgrades for the price difference of $3,705.

Inside are such extras as a wide sunroof, non-animal leather, and suede seat upholstery, an eight-way power front passenger seat with two-way power lumbar. The “Chauffeur Seat” fore-aft adjustment switch (more of a limousine feature) allows rear passengers to move the front passenger seat forward for more footroom or easier exit).

The EV6 Augmented Reality (AR) Head-Up Display system is engaging for its large three-dimensional image that appears to hover over the hood of the car. Graphics are projected from the base of the windshield and include such functions as speed and driver assistance system alerts, lane guidance, and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

The augmented head-up display in the EV6

The Augmented Reality Head-Up Display system, only on the EV6 GT-Line.

Unique to the GT-Line exterior are monochromatic paint with gloss black accents, 20-inch wheels, and the very desirable automatic extending door handles.

The GT-Line AWD adds 20-inch wheels (a 1-inch upgrade), heated rear seats, and a heat pump, which is more range-preserving than radiant cabin heating.

Kia EV6 Incentives and Rebates

In California and some other states, the 2022 Kia EV6 qualifies for up to $10,250 in federal and state rebates or incentives.

Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit: $7,500.  IRS tax forms are here.

California Clean Fuel Reward: $750. Available toward the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle with a battery capacity greater than 5. The customer must register the vehicle in California and the customer must reside in California.

California Clean Vehicle Rebate: $2,000.  Participants are eligible based on gross annual income, as stated on their federal tax return.

Find federal and state laws or incentives here.

And the Kia EV6 qualifies for California’s High-Occupancy-Vehicle freeway access, $22, with the green DMV decal

EV6 tire and wheel sizes are 19 or 20 inches with a substantial footprint of 235/55.

Tire and wheel sizes are 19 or 20 inches with a substantial footprint of 235/55.

EV6 Powertrain and Charging

The lithium-ion polymer battery is packaged “skateboard” style under the floor. There are two sizes of high-voltage batteries: 58 kWh (only on the Light trim level) and 77.4 kWh, standard for Wind and GT-Line.

Rear Wheel Drive, Light: 58 kWh battery with a 125kW 167 horsepower rear motor. Estimated zero-to-60 performance in 8 seconds with 232 miles of driving range;

RWD, Wind and GT-Line: 77.4 kWh battery with a 168kW 225-hp rear motor. Estimated zero-to-60 performance in 7.2 seconds with 310 miles of driving range;

AWD, Wind and GT-Line: 77.4 kWh battery with a 70kW front motor and 239kW rear motor for 320-hp total. Estimated zero-to-60 performance in 5.1 seconds with 274 miles of driving range;

Ultra-Fast Charging

Kia says its “world’s first” patented multicharging system supports 400-volt and 800-volt DC charging. The system works on DC chargers with speeds ranging from 50kW to 350kW.

  • 50kW DC fast charging will take 73 minutes to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent.
  • 350-kW DC fast charging adds nearly 70 miles in less than 5 minutes. From a 10 percent to 80 percent charge, it takes fewer than 18 minutes to add up to 210-miles.
  • 11kW onboard charger for Level 2 home or public charging. It can boost the charge from 10 percent to 100 percent in 7 hours, 10 minutes (240-volt AC at 40-amps) for the 77.4 kWh battery.

Onboard Generator

The so-called Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) functionality, or onboard power generator, allows the EV6 to be a power-outage savior. A special adapter connects at the rear charging port to tap power from the high-energy battery.

The generator provides 1900 watts to power electrical appliances, devices, tools, and recreational gear. Or tap into it for tailgating and beach parties.

From a full charge, EV6 power can be drawn for 36 or more consecutive hours, Kia says. And the EV6 can charge vehicle-to-vehicle at 1.1 kW, equivalent to a 110-volt charger. (Charging will be verrry slow but it’s better than nothing in an emergency.)

The system also includes a household 110-volt power outlet at the second-row seat base. Owners could use it to recharge tools and devices or plug-in for video entertainment on the go.

The Kia EV6 has an onboard generator to use in emergency situations or to power appliances and more

Be the life of the outdoor party with the onboard generator.

EV6 Performance

I did the majority of my driving in Normal mode, but if I had a Level 2 home charger, I’d let it rip in Sport mode all the time. It’s not that performance in Normal is lacking. Acceleration from a start feels reserved as the curb weight gets rolling. But there is a fire hose of force with a heavier foot on the accelerator pedal.

Driving in Normal mode seemed miserly in how it conservatively, or efficiently, used the battery reserve. Depending on temp and terrain, a 5-mile jaunt can register 3 miles on the battery charge.

Flip the steering wheel drive mode tab to Sport and the EV6 sees red — the digital driver’s screen glows red. Plunge the accelerator and the performance feels blistering fast, but always controllable. There is no lag in moving away from the light.

A Quick Charge

For a 90-mile roundtrip to visit friends, I topped off the battery, which had a charge of 71 percent. At an EVgo public fast-charge station, it took just under 31 minutes for the charging to stop at 100 percent for 299 miles of range. I used 24.270 kWh of energy for a cost of $14.12. And that is without member discounts on charging. Charging at home on a Level 2 charger gives a greater member discount and a lower power company time-of-use cost to charge in off-hours.

The equivalent fuel cost for adding just over a quarter tank of 87 octane to a 15-gallon fuel tank would have been almost $20 at $5 a gallon.

When asked why my charge didn’t reach the expected 310 miles, the Kia rep explained that total range depends on a variety of factors, including driving style and past efficiency. “Your battery percentage and indicated range will not always be linear per charge, he wrote in an email. “That explains a significant portion of the variance, as you’ve probably experienced with other EVs.”

As with an ICE vehicle, “your mileage may vary.”

The front motor of the Kia EV6 AWD

AWD models add a front motor for a total of 320 hp and 274 miles of range.

EV6 Ride and Handling

The EV6 rides like a big luxury sedan. And the suspension is not elaborate, a steel multilink setup with MacPherson struts at the front and a rear five multilink. Shock absorbers front and rear have selective damping control.

With a curb weight of 4,017 pounds, the EV6 Wind is not a heavyweight among EVs, but the driver can sense the heft of motivating the tonnage.  Transitioning speed bumps and driveways will generate a waggle of head toss. And there will be occasional clunks and jolts as the suspension manages the weight over heaves in the road and busted pavement.

On the highway, the EV6 is a superliner of smoothness. The ride is sound-isolated from road or tire harshness and the cabin is a relaxed atmosphere from the clamor of the commute.

Driving in Sport mode noticeably boosts acceleration response and, somehow, makes the EV6 feel less weighty. With a home Level 2 charger, I’d drive in Sport mode all the time.

Dual 12.3-inch-wide digital display screens show driver information and navigation-media.

A dramatic presentation of dual 12.3-inch-wide digital display screens.

Interior Function

The EV6 cabin has the appearance of a crisply dry-cleaned and neatly pressed dress shirt. It is thoroughly modern and lined with eco-friendly materials. Recycled plastic is used extensively with non-animal leather surfaces on some trims. There is full LED lighting inside and out.

The joined 12-inch digital infotainment screens form a curved display extending 2 feet across the instrument panel. The combined span of screens has a dramatic presence and is easily viewed with filtered blue light.

There are just a few key physical buttons along the instrument panel.

The slim dashboard extends from the steering wheel across to the center of the car. Below the navigation screen are controls for heat, ventilation, and AC that have electronic haptic-touch buttons. There is a bi-modal function to access either the heat-AC-vent controls or the media-radio settings. At either end of the slim control panel is a small dial. One is for manually adjusting volume or fan speed, the other is for channel tuning or temp. But the touchpoints to switch modes is a small contact point that can sometimes be hit-and-miss while driving. Several times I cranked the fan speed when I want to blast the tunes. In time, a driver will adjust.

The center armrest is treated almost as a design statement. Its peninsula style anchors the start button, gear engagement selector, wireless charging pad, and switches for seat heating and ventilation. And there’s also a deep storage box.

The peninsula-style console in the Kia EV6 has open storage below.

The peninsula-style console has open storage below.

Below the console is open storage large enough for a purse or to-go bag. Door panels have generous bottle storage slots and the space is lined with some type of recycled fabric-like material.

The center shift console in the EV6

The multifunction center console makes a design statement.

EV6 Driver Sightlines

Sightlines for the driver are open across the hood. But over-the-shoulder views are somewhat complicated by the narrow back glass and upswept rear quarter. However, the standard surround-view monitor gives total parking views through four cameras.

My biggest complaint was the exterior door handles that do not automatically extend when walking up to the car with the key fob in pocket. Instead, opening the door is almost a two-handed exercise to push open the flush handle and pivot your hand to grab the lever. To get an automatically extending door handle, you’ll have to step up to the EV6 GT-Line.

Unfortunately, there is not a standalone option for automatic door handles on the Wind. And for that simple convenience, I’d opt for the GT-Line.

Back Seat and Cargo Area

All of the back-seat dimensions for the EV6 indicate executive-class transport: 38 inches of headroom, a flat floor, and thin front-seat frames that help maximize rear knee room. But there are complications. Passengers with large shoe sizes might comment on the narrow foot space for entry and exit. The 39 inches of max legroom is adult-class long unless there are tall people up front who don’t wish to move their seats forward a bit. And the seating position feels low because of the upswept rear-quarter panels. And the Wind has no option for a sunroof to help visually open the space.

Once seated, however, there are many assets. Among them are B-pillar vents that add welcome airflow, which is especially beneficial for those who are sensitive to motion. The seat bottoms have adult thigh support and there are a few clicks of seatback recline. And the handy USB port in the side of the front seatback is such a smart idea that it should be copied by others. The fold-down center armrest has a pair of can holders, and there is bottle storage in the doors.

The EV6 has 39 inches of max legroom and a flat floor.

39 inches of max legroom and a flat floor.

Cargo Space

The slant of the EV6 tailgate crops cargo space (24.4 cubic feet) behind the seatback for taller, boxy items. But fold the 60/40 seatback for about 6 1/2 feet in length. The tall floor height (because of the battery below) lowers the cargo entry height to 27 inches. Conveniences include seatback releases (left and right), a 12-volt plug, and a roller cover.

Cargo area of the Kia EV6

Space behind the back seat (24.4 cubic feet) limits taller, boxy items.

The folded seatback for more cargo space in the Kia EV6

But fold the 60/40 seatback for about 6 1/2 feet in length.

Why Buy the Kia EV6?

The Kia EV6 is the car of tomorrow for today. It is a proud statement of Kia’s attention to detail and engineering.

An on-road rear view of the Kia EV6

In California and some other states, the 2022 Kia EV6 qualifies for up to $10,250 in federal and state rebates or incentives.

 2022 Kia EV6 Wind Specifications

Body style: Compact-class 5-door crossover SUV; unibody construction of advanced high-strength and high tensile steels

Motors: AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous

Battery: 77.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer, 697 volts; 253 kW output

Battery weight: 1,052 lbs.

Power: 168 kW 225 hp rear motor; 258 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: Single-speed reduction gear with drive modes of Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow); steering-wheel-button selectable

Top speed: 115 mph (117 mph AWD)

0-60 mph acceleration: 7.2 seconds, in Sport mode; (5.1 seconds AWD)

Driving range: 310 miles

MPGe: 136/100/117 mpg city/hwy/combined


400V Rapid DC 150kW: 73 minutes, estimated, to 100 percent charge

800V Rapid DC 250kW: 18 minutes, to 100 percent charge

Level 2 240-volt: 7 hours, 10 minutes

Onboard charger: 10.9kW


Cargo space: 24.4-50.2 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 39/42.4 inches *36.8 in. w/sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 38/39 inches

Length/wheelbase: 184.3/114.2 inches

Height/width: 60.8/74 inches

Curb weight: 4,299 pounds; AWD, 4,539

Turning circle: 38.2 feet

Max towing capacity: 2,300 pounds w/braked trailer


Standard equipment includes: smart-key entry with push-button ignition (and remote start), navigation-based smart cruise control with stop-and-go, dual panoramic 12.3-inch digital display screens with navigation-media combination, recycled fabric and vegan-leather seat materials, 5 USB ports (4 USB-C Charge Ports, 1 USB-A media port), Android Auto and Apple CarPlay infotainment, Kia Connect, wireless phone charging pad, Wi-Fi hot spot, heated front seats, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar, 19-inch wheels

Wind RWD features: Onboard power generator (V2L), gloss-black exterior accents, ventilated front seats, vegan-leather upholstery, an 8-way power front passenger seat with lumbar support, Meridian premium audio system, smart power tailgate, park-distance warning forward and reverse, and tow package wiring

Safety features include: 7 air bags, forward collision avoidance assist and cyclist-junction turning assist; blind-spot collision avoidance; rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist; parking distance warning-reverse; highway-driving assist


Wind base price: $48,255 including $1,255 freight charge; price as tested $48,750

Options on test vehicle: Glacier paint $495

Where assembled: Hwasung, Korea

Warranties: 10-years/100,000-miles electric-vehicle system (150,000 miles in California); 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain limited warranty; 5-years/60,000-miles new vehicle limited warranty and 7-year anti-perforation warranty

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