Car Review: Kia Sportage Hybrid is frugal on gas, but stands out in the crowd

The front end has striking-shaped LED lights that will make you take a double take when you see it on the road or even parked. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

Kia has been remaking its lineup the last few years with more EV, PHEVs and hybrids in many of its popular models. The compact crossover Sportage is no different and sees the biggest change so far.

Outside, the Kia transforms from a wallflower into a stylish and more space-age-looking vehicle than before. The front end has striking-shaped LED lights that will make you take a double take when you see it on the road, or even parked. Even some optional paint colors, like the Matte Gray, give the Kia Sportage added curb appeal and a more premium look.

The more premium look and feel continues inside as well, especially in the top SX-Prestige trim. With heated and ventilated front seats covered in something called Syntex, a convincing leather alternative material, covers most of the cabin. Space is improved for both front and rear seat riders, with more head and leg room compared to the old Sportage. The dash also gets a more modern makeover with a 12.3-inch supervision cluster that replaces the normal gauges with a screen and virtual gauges. It seems to seamlessly flow into the 12.3-inch touchscreen that houses the NAV and other infotainment functions. Luckily, it’s easy to use compared to some other small crossovers I’ve driven lately.

Sometimes hybrids can be a bit dull to drive, with tepid power and CVT transmission that can feel a bit different in operation and sound a bit odd or strained at times. However, Kia goes a different route with a peppy turbo engine and a more conventional automatic transmission. With 227hp, this hybrid moves swiftly when needed, or drives easily with 40+ mpg as the norm. It’s comfortable and quiet on the highway, and happy in slower stop-and-go traffic of the daily commute. It has a large number of safety and driver aids that other cars might not have for a cheaper price.

Cost: $37,490; as tested $39,460

MPG: 38 mpg City; 38 mpg Highway. I managed 38.2 in 336 miles of mixed driving.

Options: $595 Shadow Matte Gray 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 Hybrid is a big departure from the previous version with new looks, a much better interior with more space and still for a price that’s good for 2024 in a loaded compact SUV.


  • Impressive interior space and high-quality materials
  • Handsome looks make high dollar statement without costing big money
  • Peppy for a hybrid while turning in the mpg of a subcompact sedan


  • Top-of-the-line SX-Prestige trim level is hard to find
  • Not as fun to drive on the back roads as it is on the highway
  • Could save some money and choose the EX or LX trim level

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up