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2023: Kia Sportage SX vs. SX Prestige

1. Overview

Buyers can now expect three engine choices and four unique trims for the 2023 Kia Sportage model.

Step into the SX Prestige for a starting price of $33,750 and you'll notice an additional $4,000 worth of luxury. Aspects unique to the SX Prestige include a premium Nappa leather-trimmed interior, heated and ventilated front seats, a heads-up display, a panoramic view monitor, a semi-autonomous level 2 driving system with its highway driving assist technology, and a parking collision avoidance assist feature. Pricing for the SX Prestige starts at $34,200. Learn more about: Kia performance technology

The differences between the 2023 Kia Sportage SX and SX Prestige come down to features. The SX is equipped with a 281-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a front-wheel drive powertrain, a panoramic sunroof, and 19-inch alloy wheels. It also features new and improved rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, and an updated lane following assist feature. Pricing for the SX starts at $29,500.

1.1. Key Differences

Now, the main reason the Prestige is more expensive than the regular SX is what is under the hood and the manner in which driving takes place. The SX comes with a 2.5L turbo 4-cylinder engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the Prestige has a differently tuned 2.5L turbo engine with an 8-speed wet dual clutch automatic transmission. Now, what does all that mean? Well, with the SX, there is 0-60mph acceleration timing at roughly 6.8 seconds, which is actually quite fast as is. But with the Prestige, having a little fun off the line will get you a time under 6 seconds, probably closer to 5 and a half. Changing the engine and smaller transmission is what put the price tag on the Prestige, but for anyone that truly values acceleration timing, it may be a selling point. Another practicality of this is that with the smaller tranny, you get better gas mileage at 21 city/28 hwy/24 combined. And in today's world, guys trying to save a dollar a gallon at the pump may be a big selling point.

As mentioned above, with the Prestige, you are getting the all-wheel drive. And that includes the all the time all-wheel drive with locking center differential and 19-inch GTS Design wheels similar to Stinger. All of those will ensure you hold the road with full confidence and will make sure you get where you're going no matter the conditions. So, if someone values the very best in manner and confidence of traveling, the Prestige would be the perfect selection.

For the SX, you can have a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. However, with the SX Prestige, it only comes with all-wheel drive. For someone using it as a daily commute vehicle in a nice warm climate, that may not be something they value or ever use. And for a $4,000 difference in price tag, it's a pretty pricey differentiating factor. Now, if you live in a tougher climate like snow, it is a different story and well worth it.

1.2. Similarities

Both cars sit on 18-inch wheels, while typical of Kia, equipment levels are high, including dual-zone climate control, power driver's seat with two memory settings, and heated front and rear leather seats. There's a 320-watt Harman Kardon sound system and a multitude of driver aids, active safety, and convenience features too numerous to list here.

Kia claims an 8.1-second 0-60mph time with a 127mph V-max, although the cloth-trimmed front-wheel-drive version will be a little lighter, reflecting a price from $25,795 compared to the $27,195 for the EX AWD. The absence of the Dynamic AWD system or any on-road intention means this variant will not be suitable for towing.

The two Sportage variants are mechanically identical underneath, pairing the 237bhp/260lb ft 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox and torque vectoring all-wheel-drive. Six drive modes are available (Mud, Sand, Snow, Comfort, Eco, Sport), the latter changing the gauge graphics and altering engine/transmission response.

2. Performance and Engine

This exciting new direction in powertrain development does not neglect the Sportage's desire to retain a solid reputation in dynamic and on-road performance, and to meet this expectation, a newly developed 'Advanced Terrain Mode' installed in AWD models and high-spec 2WD models will allow customers to take advantage of a driving mode designed to flexibly adapt to diverse and changing terrains such as snow, mud, and sand, all at the push of a button. With an AWD lock function to send up to 50% engine torque to the rear wheels, the new Sportage will have enhanced traction and capability to confidently get through challenging terrain when compared to its predecessor. The driving force behind all this, the 'Smartstream' powertrains will be underpinned by a newly enhanced vehicle platform that greatly improves ride and handling, contributing to an even more pleasurable and composed driving experience. With an enviably wide and diverse range of powertrain offerings, new technology, and a platform designed to extract the best from the engine, the 2023 Sportage raises the bar in Kia's compact SUV performance.

Optimizing power for everyday driving, the new reinvented Sportage range for Europe ditches the 1.6 T-GDi engine found in its predecessor in favor of the new 'Smartstream' powerplants, the 1.6 Smartstream T-GDi and the 1.6 Smartstream Hybrid. Tackling the 1.6 T-GDi engine found in the outgoing Sportage, the 1.6 T-GDi is an enhanced and refined powertrain featuring Kia's latest engine technology, resulting in lower emissions and satisfying performance and fuel economy. With the engine mated with a smooth-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, the new 1.6 Smartstream T-GDi is a powertrain tailor-made for the Sportage, delivering a satisfying all-round driving experience. Available later in 2023, the 1.6 Smartstream Hybrid is poised to be the ultimate all-rounder powertrain for the Sportage. Incorporating a powerful electric motor and compact battery system, which maximizes electric driving and fuel efficiency, the powerful yet frugal by nature Smartstream Hybrid will allow a new level of driving comfort and satisfaction by providing responsive performance and low running costs. Further strong results in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions when compared to the 1.6 T-GDI model are expected when tested using the new WLTP driven cycle and real driving emissions measurements. Going beyond engine development, the new Sportage will offer a wide range of powertrains to meet various market and customer needs as part of its global strategy. Step-up Hybrid models will include more powerful variants equipped with the new 'E-Handling' system, and available AWD, alongside a convenient plug-in hybrid and a new diesel offering, delivering ultimate customer satisfaction and enjoyment.

Dynamic styling and an adventurous spirit are built into the foundations of the Kia Sportage, and with the new model, performance has been enhanced across the range by improving all-round driving finesse, ride comfort, and agility. Pairing its stylish and dynamic design with new powertrains, the 2023 Sportage not only raises the bar in its segment but also embodies Kia's commitment to quality and customer dedication globally.

2.1. Powertrain

A big plus for the Kia Sportage for those intending to tow anything, i.e., boat, jet ski, caravan, etc. The towing capacity has increased for both the 2.4L GDI AWD Sportage and the new 2.0L T-GDI AWD Sportage to 1600kg unbraked and 1500kg braked. This is a 400kg increase from the previous model. With the power of the new 2.0L T-GDI engine, this makes it much easier to tow without feeling like the weight is too much for the car. Overall, the new AWD Sportage has a superior powertrain to its predecessor, and all the improvements are noticeable.

Now for the power. Kia has dropped the 2.4L naturally aspirated engine for the SX model from the previous generation. Both SX and SX PRESTIGE get a more powerful 2.0L T-GDI engine that provides 186kW and 353 Nm of torque. This is a vast increase in power from the previous gen at 137kW. The transmission is the same in both cars, a 6-speed automatic. This extra power is very noticeable and doesn't weigh the car down with the fuel increase. The weight of the SX 2.0 Turbo is only 80kg more than the base Si model with a 2.0L MPi engine.

- This is one of the most important aspects of a car. It's good to have a fast car, but it's no good if the power goes straight to the front wheels and you have a lot of wheelspin or you lose a lot of acceleration. For the Kia Sportage, it comes in both 2WD and AWD variants. The 2WDs will have Kia's standard front-wheel drive train, whereas AWD variants have a very advanced AWD system. The AWD system is called Dynamax AWD. This is an intelligent system that can detect what surface the car is traveling on and adjust the power to the wheels accordingly. For example, if you were on a wet road, the rear wheels would get more power, providing more stability. But when you were on a steep hill, it would adjust so that you have even power to all 4 wheels. This is a big plus for the AWD and a reason for people looking for AWD to purchase this car.

2.2. Acceleration and Top Speed

So how does the Kia Sportage SX with the turbo engine translate its seemingly ample power into acceleration? Unfortunately, it is not as quick as one might expect of a sport-themed vehicle with a powerful turbo engine. At a media drive event for the fifth-generation Sportage, I had the opportunity to drag race the SX against an EX with the 2.5L non-turbo. During numerous races, the SX usually only managed to just barely pull ahead of the lower trim model, which is not particularly impressive when it offers over a hundred extra horsepower. Kia Canada has not published any official 0-60 time or other acceleration metrics for the SX, but others have timed it at around 7.5 seconds and it feels about right. This is only slightly faster than a typical SUV with the base 1.5T to 2.0L turbo four and would have been competitive a decade ago. With significantly more power on paper and a nearly escapee from the minivan class appearance, it's possible that consumers might have assumed the SX to be a lot quicker than it actually is. I think Kia has missed an opportunity here to capitalize on the sports car-inspired design of the Sportage when the SX falls short of the leading performance models in the compact SUV segment.

The 2023 Kia Sportage SX is powered by a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It delivers 277 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. This engine is only available in the SX and at first glance delivers significant power when compared with others in the compact or mid-size SUV segment. All other models come with either a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four with 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, or a hybrid powertrain with a combined 226 horsepower from its gasoline and electric motors. All-wheel drive is also standard with the turbo engine, which should help with off-the-line traction. The SX will also haul the most with a 2,000-pound towing capacity, although this is still short of the 3,500 pounds that some 1.6L turbo models can manage.

2.3. Fuel Efficiency

These fuel economy figures for the SX Prestige are almost half of the SX model's figures, which could be an annual saving of over $2000 in fuel costs based on the sort of usage that many potential buyers may be doing with their Sportage. The SX Prestige model also comes with the added bonus of a 270V outlet to run power tools or even a laptop in the boot, and no, this is not a joke! This feature may be handy for camping or 4WDing trips, as well as for typical family vehicle usage.

The fuel efficiency of the Hybrid engine is where the difference becomes significant. Kia states that the SX model fuel consumption is an average of 11.4L/100km, and from personal experience, this is probably an accurate estimate or even a little on the optimistic side. The ADR figure for extra-urban fuel consumption for the SX Prestige is 6.3L/100km, which is in the same ballpark as it may go when towing. The combined cycle fuel economy figure is 6.7L/100km, and the urban figure is 8.3L/100km.

The 2023 Kia Sportage SX Prestige appears to be much better on the performance levels. Its Hybrid Turbo engine produces similar power to the SX model's turbo engine, however, it does so in a more efficient way. The SX Prestige's engine produces 190kW of power at 5500rpm, which compares well to the SX model's 20B MZR producing 122kW at similar revs.

3. Features and Technology

The majority of the systems are geared to driver assistance such as front and rear park assist systems using sonar sensors, lane departure warning (LDWS), blind spot detection (BSD), automatic emergency braking (AEB), and more. LDWS has shown recent proven results to lessen collision insurance claims. When tested with Sportage's LDWS and AEB, the claim frequency was lower compared to similarly sized cars without the systems. AEB has shown up to 35% less claim frequency and 48% less bodily injury claim frequency.

The Sportage SX and SX Prestige consist of towering interior features that help in giving a warm and usually comfortable place in the cabin. Starting with Kia's first electrochromatic device cluster, heated guidance wheel plus shift knob, LED interior lighting, these all complete to fabricate a premium atmosphere for all the passengers in the vehicle. Perhaps the most exciting interior feature of the SX Prestige is the panoramic sunroof. This is one of the biggest glass sunroofs on the market, and the first of its kind for the Sportage. By offering a comprehensive, navigable high-resolution 8.0-inch touchscreen, the SX and SX Prestige models encompass Kia's latest UVO3 telematics. Featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, rear camera display, and an optional navigation system, the SX and SX Prestige have drivers covered in terms of infotainment technology. UVO3 is linked to some advanced technology designed to both assist and entertain the driver and passengers.

3.1. Interior Features

Cutting edge technology is what Kia is admired for, and the updated Sportage platform has been quoted to be the spearhead of automobile technology. The SX Turbo Sportage houses a vast array of additional high-tech features. The addition of a wireless phone charger which Kia has named Qi has been added to this model. If your phone is enabled with wireless charging, all you have to do is place your phone in the designated tray and it will charge. Though the feature is an option elsewhere on the Sportage line-up, the turbo model also has an added feature where the lift gate can be opened or closed without use of hands. This can be particularly useful when you have your keys stowed in your pocket. Folk who live in colder climates will find a newfound love for the heated steering wheel, a feature only found on the turbo-gdi models. This is also the first Sportage in its lineage to offer ventilated front seats, and a premium sound system by Harman Kardon. Moving up to the SX Prestige, features built into the Sportage continue to become increasingly sophisticated. The SX Prestige houses an all-new 4-way electronic lumbar support for the driver's side seating, with a built-in memory system. Similar to the turbo model, the SX Prestige also includes a heated steering wheel, as well as ventilated driver seat to accompany the existing passenger ventilated seating. Dual-zone climate control now comes with an auto defogging system to accommodate for varying environments, this mode can also be switched to a windscreen only defrost. Merging the technology present throughout the vehicle, the SX Prestige also comes with an 8" Supervision meter cluster. This is a high-resolution screen built into the speedometer and rev counter, providing information about the vehicle and its surroundings. Although no specific mention of this feature was made, the Cluster should be powered by Android, potentially bringing third-party app support right in front of the driver. A series of stored images also reveal an electronic parking brake rather than the standard foot-operated brake.

3.2. Infotainment System

For the 2023 model year, infotainment is a major focus of change for the Kia Sportage. All versions come with a 10.25-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Other features include the rear camera view, blind spot view, navigation with traffic pattern. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support smartphones. The 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless phone charger, Bose audio system, and Ambient Lighting. SX trim level allows for upgrading to a premium 8-speaker Bose sound system with subwoofer. Wireless phone charger and Ambient Mood illumination are also available at this level. SX Prestige tops the lineup with the 12-speaker premium Meridian sound system, 3D driver's display, console with padded armrest and 64 color ambient lighting. Participants were largely favorable on this technology and considered its user experience to be high within the market, albeit unoriginal. Kia's infotainment setup was rated a 6/10 for originality, but a 7.5/10 for user experience. This is an improvement from the previous Sportage models and managers were content with this rating as it shows pertinent progress in this focal area of the vehicle. Once again, participants who had seen the technology in real life were more favorable than those who watched the video. In terms of the mood lighting which is featured exclusively in the 2023 Sportage, the overall rating was a 6.9/10. This can be considered an extraordinary rating given that this feature is not essential to the functionality of the vehicle. Users loved the color variety and ease in which it was controlled, stating that it would make the driving experience more enjoyable. Again, this technology was more favorably rated by people who had seen it firsthand rather than through the video. Saying it's a feature you really have to see to appreciate would be most fitting.

3.3. Safety Features

- A driver attention-monitoring system efficiently stops the vehicle in case of an emergency or collision. Available Highway Driving Assist, leading vehicle departure alert, enhanced forward collision-avoidance assistance with pedestrian detection, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, intelligent speed limit assistant, and Safe Exist Assist - a world exclusive technology. - Built on the next-gen Sorento's robust structure, the all-new Sportage provides an extremely safe environment for all its occupants. With improved lightweight sub-structures, a stronger and more durable body and chassis, the new Sportage underwent major advancements in collision safety performance, resulting in better impact absorption and reinforced passenger protection when exposed to any kind of collision. This enhanced ride and handling truly sets it apart from other rivals in the class. - Sportage's safety cage is the foundation for its dynamic safety prowess. By utilizing an increased portion of Advanced High Strength Steel from 51.8% to 60.1%, the impact energy absorption is greatly improved. This has been pivotal in achieving improved safety performance as proven by meeting the protocols for the world's most demanding safety standards enforced by various safety testing agencies. The improved body and chassis rigidity allows for further improvements in steering and brakes, among many others, resulting in enhanced control of the vehicle. This also contributes to better NVH characteristics for an overall improvement in ride quality. - The passive safety system covers the primary and secondary safety systems to protect the driver and passengers in the event of a collision. This includes dual front airbags, driver knee airbag, passenger seat cushion airbag, and an advanced airbag system. Also, the three-point seat belts and ISOFIX anchors offer safe and secure restraints for children and child safety seats. Implementing these passive safety systems with its safety protocol, nationally awarded ANCAP safety standards are expected.

4. Pricing and Packages

The 2023 Kia Sportage SX and SX Prestige both offer different types of value for what essentially debuts the same generation vehicle featuring a newly complete redesign. The SX model is valued for its lower price and larger selection of high-tech features compared to the previous generation, but maintains the 2.0T engine. New car buyers will find the luxury and countless amenities associated with the SX Prestige model of great value, recalling the exclusiveness of the top trim SX Turbo of the previous generation.

Sold as a premium package compact SUV, the 2023 Kia Sportage SX Prestige does not have available packages per se, but instead offers an extensive list of features factored into its higher overall price.

The 2023 Kia Sportage SX has two available packages. The popular package, priced at $1,900, adds a variety of features that are also seen in the standard SX Prestige model. Another option is the Nightfall package, which changes the appearance of the vehicle by adding several black elements to the exterior as well as the interior.

The 2023 Kia Sportage SX has a convenient starting price at $27,150, but does not include the $780 destination fee that adds to the actual value. The 2023 Kia Sportage SX Prestige model has a steeper starting price of $37,170, which also does not include the $780 destination fee added to the actual price. Depending on your financial situation and willingness to spend, the two models will likely favor different types of individuals. If money is tight and you need a new vehicle, the Sportage SX model is a better choice because it is still a solid vehicle with a smaller price point. The SX Prestige model, with its extensive list of features and luxury add-ons, may appeal to customers who are not held down by financial restrictions and are in the market for an upscale small to midsize SUV.

4.1. Base Price

The price difference between a 2023 Kia Sportage SX and SX Prestige model is $3,600 higher for FWD and $3,700 for AWD. This substantial price increase is justifiable when comparing the standard features and the overall aesthetic between the two cars. High-end features equipped onto the 2023 Kia Sportage SX Prestige model include a rather luxurious 12.3-inch Full Digital Gauge Cluster incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) Nav. This system creates a virtual display to appear approximately 6 feet ahead of the driver, showcasing turn-by-turn directions. This feature optimizes navigation driving routes and provides visual aid that is less distracting to the driver and safer for other passengers. The SX Prestige model includes an all-new 360 Surround View Monitor, offering a more complete birds-eye view which now incorporates an art quality video rendering of the car and its surroundings. The SX Prestige model also includes standard 2nd Row Ventilated Seats and a rather contemporary Katitzu Black Quilted Nappa Leather seating with gray suede headliner, leather armrest, and door trim. These high-end features and upscale materials call for a significant increase in the base price of a 2023 Kia Sportage SX Prestige Model.

The price difference between a 2023 Kia Sportage SX and SX Prestige model is $3,600 higher for FWD and $3,700 for AWD. A base 2023 Kia Sportage SX has a starting price of $29,290 for an FWD and $30,790 for the AWD, with a destination fee of $1,175. Standard features include a 2.0L Turbo engine, 19-inch alloy wheels, 8-speed wet DCT, 12.3-inch digital meter cluster, 8-speaker Bose sound system, 10.25-inch navigation display, Highway Driving Assist, LED front and rear lamps, Rear Occupant Alert, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a wireless phone charger. A base 2023 Kia Sportage SX adds a hefty amount of safety and convenience features, offering a well-rounded complete package.

A base 2023 Kia Sportage SX has a starting price of $29,290 for an FWD and $30,790 for the AWD, with a destination fee of $1,175. Standard features include a 2.0L Turbo engine, 19-inch alloy wheels, 8-speed wet DCT, 12.3-inch digital meter cluster, 8-speaker Bose sound system, 10.25-inch navigation display, Highway Driving Assist, LED front and rear lamps, Rear Occupant Alert, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a wireless phone charger. A base 2023 Kia Sportage SX adds a hefty amount of safety and convenience features, offering a well-rounded complete package.

4.2. Optional Packages

These optional packages are available for the 2023 Kia Sportage SX and SX Prestige. The Nightfall Edition Package is available on the SX AWD and adds unique dark finish exterior accents and 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, unique 2-tone exterior colors, and satin dim chrome with gloss black grille. The Nightfall Edition Package is available for the SX AWD and adds unique dark finish exterior accents and 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, unique 2-tone exterior colors, and satin dim chrome with gloss black grille. This package is priced at $1,500, and all of the features added are purely superficial. Buyers will seek this package for a blacked out aesthetic, and non-resolution of further options on their vehicle. This package is available for both the SX and SX Prestige, but does not include the 2-tone roof which is only purchasable in a 2-tone vehicle, and the SX Prestige is simply too expensive to purchase as a value option. Both models will not see great value from this package in terms of resale cost, but the features will still enhance the owner's driving experience. With a potential Sportage being passed down as a family vehicle, this package might not be beneficial for a second owner, but in the case of the vehicle staying within the immediate family, the features are likely to stay in style with the overarching industry trends. All in all, those wanting a current vehicle that is often cleaned to stay in great condition aesthetically, will find this package to be worth the cost in the long run. This said, an owner currently driving their car in rough working conditions should avoid this package as the added features will be harder to maintain.

4.3. Value for Money

The base price for the Sportage SX is at niche $32,615, while the prestige will go for $37,170 ($34,000 FWD). Value is thus in the higher range for a compact off-road utility vehicle. When it comes to pricing on optional packages, both Kia Sportage models mostly offer practical value targeted towards their respective buyers. The SX's convenience package and premium package featuring dual climate control, leather, and key memory are nice, but fulfill a lot of common driver's expectations and needs. However, Nissan's SL package comes in $1,300 cheaper and offers a panoramic sunroof, plus leather and memory seats too - which essentially takes away from what the SX premium package offers. The prestige model Sportage offers much of its value through its complimentary feature additions when compared to the base model, as it ties a lot of luxury and convenience features in with safety and driver assistance, which is in comparison to what the luxury car market generally provides offers an outstanding or luxurious car offering serious bang for buck value. Price difference between base models is $1,000, and comes at $36,370 for the SX and $37,170 for the Nissan CVT AWD Murano. The Murano is a fair comparison (Yet has potential to be too expensive with higher models and other makes). Step up to off-roading 4x4 utilities and comparisons such as the Ford Territory Ghia ($50,090) will be $7k more than the Kia Sportage with lesser fuel efficiency and a higher running cost. Finally, with the more expensive luxury of prestige utilities, the Lexus RX is well out of reach at a nearly double price of $64,076. Step feature comparisons for this model can be matched to various vehicles in the luxury market so in many ways Kia offers an affordable luxury niche in the SUV market similar to its brother make Hyundai.​​​​​​​ Learn More About: Sportage SX vs SX Prestige.