Car Review: Kia Sportage adds plug-in hybrid version with 35 miles of all-electric driving

The Kia Sportage PHEV is happy to cruise quietly on electric power or combine the gas and electric together. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

It seems like I just drove the revised and impressive Sportage Hybrid with its new looks and pleasing fuel efficiency. Like the hybrid version we looked at two weeks ago, the peppy 1.6L turbocharged engine is also inside this PHEV version. This PHEV offers you an all-electric experience if your normal commute is under 35 miles, and a fuel-efficient gas engine when it’s not.

The Sportage PHEV is happy to cruise quietly on electric power or combine the gas and electric together, and it has 261hp — plenty of get-up-and-go. This Kia makes the most sense if you can plug it in often or drive shorter distances where you’re not using the gas engine often. On just the gas engine, look for 35 MPG — the same as the hybrid model.

On the outside, the Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige still carries that modern styling that has a distinctive front end with cool LED lighting clusters. This Kia also comes with large, 19-inch wheels and a roof rack with added cargo capacity. It doesn’t have any big badges to announce or show off that it’s a PHEV.

Inside, the Kia Sportage PHEV X-Line Prestige offers a very upscale experience with heated and ventilated front seats covered in a material called Syntex, which looks convincingly like leather. The space is good for a small crossover, with ample room in the front and back seat — an improvement from the previous Sportage.

Cargo space is also very competitive with other smaller crossovers. The knob for the transmission creates room in the center console, but it takes some time to get used to using the knob for shifting.

Cost: $42,990; as tested $44,680

MPG: 84 MPGe, 35 MPG on gas only. I managed 48.9 mpg in 432 miles of mixed driving.

Options: $395 Dawning Red paint

Safety: Blind spot collision avoidance assist-pedestrian; rear cross traffic collision-avoidance assist; enhanced forward collision avoidance-assist, cyclist & junction turning; vehicle stability management; safe exit warning; smart cruise with stop-go; parking collision avoidance-rear, parking distance warning

Things to know: The Kia Sportage PHEV allows for some all-EV driving for short trips and offers a peppy, efficient gas engine for extending driving.


  • Impressive interior space and high-quality materials
  • Large amount of technology in the upper X-Line Prestige trim level
  • Plenty of power with both gas and electric working together


  • Priced higher than the Hybrid version
  • Some competitors get more EV range than the Kia
  • Shifter knob is different from a normal shifter you find in many vehicles

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