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2023 Kia Sportage First Look: Big Style, Big Screen, Big Hybrid Plans

Hyundai and Kia are clearly rivals, albeit sibling rivals. The two brands feature overlapping offerings, each with a distinct character and design. This competition is proving very good for consumers with an eye for style, as the two brands trade bleeding-edge design broadsides. Take, for instance, the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s neo-retro vibe. Kia’s EV6 rides on the same platform, with an equally avant-garde look—but much sleeker. The EV6 is part of Kia’s forward-looking “Opposites United” design philosophy. Kia’s electric SUV may have forged this design language, but the brand new 2023 Kia Sportage is going to be its crucible.

It’s a reimagining the Sportage desperately needed—the current model debuted way back in 2016 for the 2017 model year. The Sportage’s styling turned heads a half-decade or so ago (it was certainly provocative, by the standards of the time), but now it just looks stale.

Especially next to the new model. Look at the complex interplay between the boomerang running lights and the new “Digital Tiger Face”—a paired design element that sits above, and complements, a complex and contemporary grille. As is the trend, the actual headlamps are less prominent than the boomerang running lights. Below the grille, a wide lower intake and fog lamps sit below a body-colored chinstrap. The sides are deeply sculpted, and the kicked-up D-pillar garnish is a neat variation on the floating roof theme, which will surely be enhanced with the option of a contrasting black-finished roof. The rear plays with some EV6 styling concepts (albeit with less dramatic, larger taillights), but on the whole, this is a bold look for Kia compact SUV. In fact, it barely registers as a relative of today’s Sportage.

The interior has almost as much of the sci-fi shuttlecraft look as the EV6’s cabin. The most prominent part is the massive curved slab, a fusion of infotainment and instrument display that comes off a bit like a junior varsity version of the Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen, covering nearly 25 inches of real state. It sweeps across an elegant dash, terminating where a large air vent and trim piece picks up and sweeps clear to the door card. There are contrasting material colors melded with piano black and bright metal—particularly in the large, solid-looking interior door handles.

Just like with its newest models, Kia is expanding technology to the masses. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and a new touchpad for the HVAC controls brings an upscale touch to the already premium-looking cabin.

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