In the crowded midsize CUV segment, the Kia Sportage stands apart.
That’s the verdict of Wards judges, who made the Sportage Hybrid a 2023 10 Best Interiors & UX winner, based on its combination of comfort, style, functionality and value.
The Sportage welcomes you inside with animation playing on both of the 12.3-in. (31-cm) curved displays as well as unique sound effects. Take hold of the leather-covered steering wheel, get comfortable in the quilted faux-leather seating that looks and feels like the real thing, adjust the lumbar control, fire up the heated windshield if necessary, and you’re on your way.
Soft-touch surfaces are found throughout the cabin. There also is carbon-fiber trim and piano black, employed tastefully and to good effect. Our test vehicle also came with a striking red and black color scheme.
Comfort is good, especially for second-row passengers who can relax in reclining seats while enjoying the view through the panoramic sunroof. The Sportage also treats them to segment-leading legroom.
Climate and audio are controlled with a single button, enhancing the dashboard’s uncluttered look. The Sportage’s list of connectivity choices includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (both standard), a wireless phone charger, Wi-Fi hotspot and USB charge ports front and rear.
The Sportage has a couple of subtle user-friendly touches, such as a keyboard displaying both numbers and letters – no need to switch screens when you’re punching in an address. A bin at the front of the console houses the phone charger, but it offers extra storage because it’s bigger than the phone itself. Still more storage becomes available by folding away the cupholders.
Judges appreciated how the Sportage’s voice-recognition system replied to commands quickly and accurately, and the graphic that pops up on the screen while you’re speaking to acknowledge it’s hearing you.
The cargo area is just shy of 40 cu.-ft. (1,133 L), best in its class, and can be accessed from behind using the hands-free power liftgate.
Driver-assistance features included adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, blindspot monitor and collision-avoidance assist, surround-view monitor, remote parking assist, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, forward and rear-cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, and driver attention warning with leading-vehicle-departure alert.
The Sportage may have made its biggest impression on the Wards judges with its price – what one called a “shockingly low” $38,000 for the hybrid SX-Prestige trim level. The roster of standard equipment is so long that our test car’s sticker listed only one additional charge: the $595 matte-finish paint job.
Wards judges are always on the lookout for vehicles that are well-equipped and reasonably priced, and with the Sportage we couldn’t ask for more.