2023 Kia Sportage S Review

Sometimes the base model ends up being a little bit nicer than you think. This may be the case for the Kia Sportage, let's have a look!

Jacob Brooke
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Plenty of safety features as standard
  • Torquey Turbo Diesel power train!
  • Great looks and practicality


  • So many options to choose from!
  • Long wait list for one... (6+ months)
  • Interior is a little plain
Car specs

137kW + 416Nm

$40,195 + On-roads


5-Star ANCAP

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Very often when we review a car, we get the absolute top-spec, optioned-to-the-gills with the latest technology and safety features, the best power train, transmission, and luxury features that are designed to wow us. Not this time. Today we will be taking a look at one of the entry models of the 2023 Kia Sportage family, and letting you know why we think it is the best option to go for.

How much does the 2023 Kia Sportage cost?

The 2023 Kia Sportage Lineup is available in quite a few trim levels, and with a few different engine options and power-trains, here they are (ordered from cheapest to most expensive):

  • S (fwd)
  • 2.0L Petrol, 6 spd manual: $32,795
  • 2.0L Petrol, 6 spd auto: $34,795
  • SX (fwd)
  • 2.0L Petrol, 6 spd manual: $35,350
  • 2.0L Petrol, 6 spd auto: $37,350
  • S (awd)
  • 2.0L Diesel, 8 spd auto: $40,195
  • SX+ (fwd)
  • 2.0L Petrol, 6 spd auto: $41,850
  • SX (awd)
  • 2.0L Diesel, 8 spd auto: $42,750
  • SX+ (awd)
  • 1.6L Petrol, 7 spd auto dual clutch: $43,850
  • 2.0L Diesel, 8 spd auto: $47,250
  • GT-Line (awd)
  • 1.6L Petrol, 7 spd auto dual clutch: $49,720
  • 2.0L Diesel, 8 spd auto: $52,720

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What do we think of the exterior looks of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

One of the great things about the Kia Sportage line-up when you start to look at the lower trim levels, is that they pretty much look identical to the top-spec variants. The GT-Line gets some sporty aero design and different wheels but that’s about it.

The headlight design with its long daytime running lights looks very cool, and you’ll be glad to know that LED headlights are standard across the range, though the lower S trim does get incandescent bulbs for turn signals.

The grill is pretty large as well and integrates nicely with the daytime running lights, and you can see the radar below which is used by the onboard safety systems, as well as the camera seen in the front windscreen.

The Sportage is available in 6 colours on lower trims (8 on the GT-Line), and our test car was optioned with the “Steel Grey” exterior paint which costs an extra $520. This is the same across all colours except the base “Clear White” which comes as standard.

The S trim comes with the smallest of the wheel options - 17-inch alloys, while the SX comes with 18-inch alloys, and the SX+ and GT-Line come with 19-inch alloys as standard. This being said, as far as design goes I reckon the smallest alloys look the best, and subjectivity aside having smaller wheels generally means better ride comfort due to thicker rubber. The wheels aren’t the thickest at 235 wide but given that we had the AWD powertrain and so we didn’t face any traction issues.

Amazingly, you get automatic folding mirrors as standard across the range, with no keyless entry or go on the S trim, however. The windows slope upwards towards the back which integrates well with the LED taillight design, which looks fantastic.

Frankly, the rear of the vehicle is stunning, with curves everywhere and a design that looks like it was straight out of some concept art. We also get our 4X badge which denotes the AWD powertrain, and apart from that you get a plastic defuser-looking bumper down the bottom.

What’s the interior and connectivity like of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

There are a few areas where you will notice the lower cost of the entry model Kia Sportage, and that is mainly to do with materials around the cabin. There are some hard, scratchy plastics on the door and centre console, but there is some knurled plastic between the infotainment display and climate controls that has a metal effect and livens up the interior a bit.

The seats are black cloth on the S and SX, while the SX+ gets black quilted faux leather, and the GT-Line gets black leather with faux suede. While the seats are cloth they are still comfortable, and the SX trim gets lumbar support, while the higher trims get power adjustment.

The GT-Line gets twin-curved displays that are 12.3 inches each and look very flashy, and while the infotainment and digital instrument cluster aren’t as flashy on the S as the higher trims, you do get an ample 8-inch infotainment display, and all but the GT-Line get a 4.2-inch LCD instrument cluster. But the base model gets something that none of the others get - wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto!

Connectivity is decent with a couple of USB-A ports and a 12V socket, and storage is good with a couple of hideaway cupholders. Unfortunately, you get quite a few blank buttons in the centre console on the S model which are used as seat heating controls in the GT-Line.

All Sportage models come with a drive mode selector but the AWD Diesel powertrain gets some off-road modes to select from. The climate controls are very basic analogue dials on the lower trim, while the GT-Line gets Kia’s new touch climate/media control system.

The steering wheel is a nice leather-wrapped unit, the same as all the other grades, with your adaptive cruise control buttons laid out.

What about the Back seats of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

Space is excellent in the back, with plenty of legroom and toe room, and headroom for days.

The seating position is very good, and they also recline all the way back, and there is a central fold-down armrest with a couple of cupholders.

We also get climate vents in the rear with an open storage compartment, though no rear charging ports in sight.

How much can it fit in the boot of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

As expected for the Sportage, you get a pretty massive 543L of boot space with the rear seats in place, which extends to 1829L with the second row folded flat.

Located underneath the floor is a full-size spare wheel.

What’s under the bonnet of the 2023 Kia Sportage?

Our model here comes equipped with a 2.0L, 4-cylinder Turbo Diesel engine that pumps out 137kW of power and 416Nm of torque to all four wheels via an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

This is our pick of drivetrain when it comes to the Sportage, and as you’ll see in the driving section, it is genuinely quick!

Also available are the following engine/transmission options:

  • 2.0L Inline petrol 4-cylinder (115kW/192Nm) FWD only with:
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • 1.5L Turbo petrol 4-cylinder (132kW/265Nm) AWD with:
  • 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission

How does the 2023 Kia Sportage drive?

While this Diesel powertrain won’t exactly blow you away, we were quite surprised by its performance figures and in particular, its torque. We clocked its 0-100km/h launch at 8.46 seconds, which is very good as far as cheap Mid-size SUVs go.

In everyday driving, the base model S has a remarkably supple ride with only a little more road noise than its more expensive counterparts, which makes for a very refined, comfortable daily driving experience. Fuel economy is also excellent, we managed a combined cycle of 6.6L/100km with real-world driving mixed in with our usual shenanigans.

On the freeway, autonomous driving makes long trips a breeze, with one of the best adaptive cruise control and lane centering systems we have tested, as well as coming fully loaded with most of the latest safety tech. Convenience feels very premium with wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto on the S trim, unfortunately, no automatic rain-sensing wipers though.

On the twisty back roads, this thing has surprising amounts of character, and the suspension handles very well despite the comfortable tune. The Diesel engine seems to deliver power effortlessly at all ends of the torque band, and when switching to Sport mode, the steering weight gets heavier and the throttle response becomes even sharper.

The 8-speed torque converter transmission is a HUGE upgrade over the CVT, and it would definitely be my pick over the 7-speed DCT which is known for being very laggy and lurchy around town.

This combination of above-average performance in every aspect has us pretty shocked, given that we have spent quite a bit of time in higher-spec Kias, and we are now rethinking our preconceptions.

Is the 2023 Kia Sportage Safe?

This latest generation Kia Sportage has achieved a 5-Star ANCAP Safety rating for 2022 onwards, scoring 87% for both Adult and Child Occupant Protection.

The Kia Sportage S comes equipped with the following safety features as standard:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Car, Pedestrian, Cyclist and Junction Assist
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Lane Following Assist
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning (Automatic only)
  • Rear-cross Traffic Alert (Automatic only)
  • Safe Exit Warning
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Speed Limit Assist
  • Parking Sensors (rear only)
  • Reversing Camera
  • Automatic Headlights

How much can the 2023 Kia Sportage tow?

The AWD Turbo Diesel Kia Sportage has a braked towing capacity of 1900kg.

Some of the petrol variants have a reduced towing capacity of 1650kg.

How much does the 2023 Kia Sportage cost to service?

All Kia Models are covered under a 7-year unlimited KM warranty.

Service costs will vary depending on the model and powertrain, Kia offers the following service pricing for the Turbo Diesel Sportage:

  • 1 year/15,000km - $346
  • 2 years/30,000km - $537
  • 3 years/45,000km - $416
  • 4 years/60,000km - $790
  • 5 years/75,000km - $389
  • 6 years/90,000km - $675
  • 7 years/105,000km - $413

Final thoughts - should you buy a 2023 Kia Sportage?

If you are in the market for a safe, feature-loaded mid-size SUV then you should definitely consider the 2023 Kia Sportage S. As far as value for money is concerned, it is going to be tough to beat in terms of raw performance, safety technology, and convenience, at the $40k price point. The Turbo Diesel power-train is definitely what I would recommend both in terms of fuel economy, as well as driving performance and ease when paired with that 8-speed torque converter transmission. Additionally, it has great in-class towing and practicality so I can see a wide range of people finding those aspects very appealing.

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Jacob Brooke
Jacob Brooke, a respected voice in the world of automotive journalism, brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to his reviews at CarSauce. His keen eye for detail and passion for all things cars shine through in his in-depth analysis and honest evaluations of the latest models of cars. Join him as he guides readers through the car-buying process and explores the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

137kW + 416Nm

$40,195 + On-roads


5-Star ANCAP

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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