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2023 Kia Sportage vs. 2023 Kia Seltos

1. Introduction

The Sportage has been one of Kia's best-selling models in part because it's hit a just-right size and a good mission as a sporty yet economical utility vehicle with just a dash of ruggedness. It's frequently a smart alternative to hot hatchbacks among Euro-minded shoppers. But the current generation has been on the market since 2017, and in crossover time, it's quite ancient. The model coming for 2023 was co-developed by Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Corporation, helping to ensure that it's done right for American shoppers, and it's expected to be revealed in the first half of 2022. (Bajwa et al., 2023)(Bajwa et al., 2023). Please visit our Comprehensive Guide to Kia Model Comparisons to learn more about 2023 Kia Sportage vs 2023 Kia Seltos.

At Kia, automakers somehow seem to never be satisfied with their model lineup, a sentiment that we can certainly respect. These days, Kia's model offerings encompass a lot of ground with a variety of car types, from sporty little sedans to big three-row SUVs. At the same time, we see a lot of smart, strategic moves to replace aging models with something fresher—a strategy demonstrated by the 2023 Kia Sportage and the all-new 2023 Kia Seltos.

2. Exterior Design

Looking at the Seltos, we can clearly see a more rugged-looking design as it employs some plastic cladding all around the front, rear, and side of the car to make it seem more off-roadish. It does not have a steep roof angle like the Sportage, making it look way taller, but it still is shorter than the Sportage. It has a longer wheelbase and tracks wider than the Seltos. The Seltos also has alloy wheels ranging from 16 inches to 18 inches at most, compared to the Sportage which only has 17 to 19 inches alloy wheels.

Basically, what I see is that the Sportage has a more coupe-like rear end, where the whole roof has been angled more compared to the more traditional boxy SUV look of the Seltos. The Sportage's rear end also has some sort of similarity in terms of rear lights with the Porsche Macan. Well, Kia did employ the same idea on the rear of the fourth generation Optima and seventh generation of the Kia Rondo, so it is not something that is out of place to see.

2.1. Sportage

New Kia Sportage was made according to this global top car. The car's measurements have increased, don't be surprised, from the previous model. Believe it or not, Kia dared to make an extreme change in the front grille. We are not kidding, it is real. The new face of the new Kia Sportage looks like a bulging eye. Try to compare it with its previous model. The trapezoid front grille may remind you of other top cars because it's almost similar to the Porsche Cayenne. The side line is high and it successfully makes this car look sporty. The high side line also maximizes the use of the window. At the rear, design changes can be seen from the use of double exhaust, spoiler, and LED combination lamps with clear colored glass. Although design is a subjective problem, it can be said that the new Kia Sportage is more luxurious than its previous model.

2.2. Seltos

The Seltos, from its first appearance, had been turning heads. The boxy body looks amazing with sharp lines, which gives it a very aggressive look. Upfront, the Tiger grill and sharp LED headlamps give it a modern look. The skid plates look very rugged and add an SUV feel to it. Coming to the side profile, the 17-inch rims fill the wheel arches nicely, and the black cladding running across the car not only adds to the SUV feel but also adds a rugged look to the car. Chrome door handles and the silver color roof rails add a premium touch to the car. This car bears a strong resemblance to the Land Rover Discovery because of the boxy design, and that can be seen quite a lot from the rear end. Kia's tagline is "Give It Everything," and they have done the same with the rear end of the car. Skid plates, connected tail lamps, chrome exhaust tip, and gloss black finish give it a complete look. Overall, the design of this car speaks for itself. It's a true compact SUV, but the aggressive look with features of a premium SUV is what goes in favor of Seltos. In comparison to other cars in this segment, it is safe to say that Kia has done a fantastic job with the Seltos.

3. Interior Features

In terms of practicality, something often sought after for an adventure-mobile, the Sportage offers quite a bit more. The Seltos prides itself on versatility with a two-step reclining rear seat, adjustable luggage board, and dual-level cargo floor. However, the Sportage offers reclining rear seats on ALL trim levels, a feature we found missing on many modern vehicles at the same class and price point. The 2023 model of Seltos shares a similar story to the 2023 Soul in the fact that the rear seats no longer recline due to seat track design. The Sportage also offers a dual-level cargo load floor and a smart power liftgate on upper trims of the vehicle. This alone might be a gamechanger for many, since a liftgate from the top trim of Seltos will also feature a smart power function.

Both vehicles offer reasonably comfortable seats all around, but taller passengers may find the Seltos a bit snug. However, still in the front, the Sportage offers a slightly roomier 41.6 inches of legroom, opposed to the Seltos which offers 41.4 inches. What the Seltos offers differently is in the rear area. Here, the Seltos is able to offer more legroom, 38 inches to be exact. This, in turn, is larger than the 37.9 inches that the Sportage offers. However, there is more to interior room than just legroom. The Seltos has a total of 139.1 cubic feet of interior space, while the Sportage has 129.3 cubic feet. This left us wondering which vehicle was actually the bigger brother in the Kia lineup. Unfortunately for the Seltos, this question would soon be answered.

3.1. Sportage

Features of the Kia Sportage EX AWD are: 2.7L V6, 4-speed automatic/OD, leather seats, power sunroof, sports-tuned suspension and unique body trim, heated front seats, 6 speakers, 16" alloy wheels. Safety features such as ABS, TCS, and ESP are standard across the Sportage range. The 2.7L V6 performs adequately but lacks fuel efficiency and, in contrast to the 2.0L, it is slightly noisy. Although the ride quality is good, the sports-tuned suspension is slightly jarring over bumps compared to the standard setup. The ride handling of the Sportage, however, is quite good with light and easy steering and also good grip level. This, coupled with a tight turning circle, makes it easy to maneuver and park. Overall, the Sportage is a good driver with good acceleration and good handling of off-road tracks due to the AWD system.

The interior of the Kia Sportage is adorned with soft touches and high-quality materials. It's wide and uncluttered, a modern and generally ergonomic dashboard spread. The main control panel is based around three cylinder-shaped gauges that have an aluminum bubble surrounding them. The center stack is uncluttered with easy-to-reach climate controls and a BMW i-Drive style controller to operate the optional navigation system. The front seats have good support and the rear seats recline and also have ample legroom. The cargo area is wide and also roomy. The build quality is top-notch, but the overall feeling of the interior is dark due to the dark-colored plastics used. Although an optional panoramic sunroof does brighten things up. The overall quietness of the interior is good with little road or wind noise.

3.2. Seltos

The Kia Seltos has a structured dashboard and gives a driver-focused ergonomic console, ambient lighting all over the door panel and center console, providing a warm and high-tech atmosphere inside. Its 2-step reclining rear seats allow passengers to enjoy a comfortable and spacious ride. Reclining the seats to the last position, the rear seatbacks have a 27-degree tilt. The rear seats can move forward and backward up to 202 mm, creating a larger rear cargo area or ensuring rear passengers have an optimized and comfortable ride. The Seltos also features a large and wide cargo area. With the rear seats up, there is 752L of room. This expands to 1,778L with the rear seats folded. The Kia Seltos offers a SOFI (Sofino) leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, automatic temperature control air conditioning, an 8-inch heads-up display, leading in-class spaciousness with generous hip and shoulder room, and remote engine start from the key fob or smartphone, adding convenience in preparing the cabin for the drive. The Seltos outperforms competitors in soundproofing with extensive use of adhesives and sealants in its manufacture to minimize road and wind noise. This engineered refinement results in an exceptional and quiet cabin. The body structure is constructed with Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS), hot-stamped steel, and 74m of structural adhesives. This results in a firm and quiet cabin, giving assurance and a sense of security to passengers.

3.3. Comparison of Features

High-end Bose speakers are included in the Sportage and it is the first Kia vehicle to offer an available 12.3" digital gauge cluster. This puts the interior of a Sportage at a very tech-based position, and a potential buying reason for those who prefer more modern vehicles.

Step one in the vehicle and the most notable feature is the infotainment system, and this is one of the areas with the biggest differences. The Sportage comes with a 10.25" touchscreen with navigation. Smartphone capability is included with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is another area where the Seltos is not going to be lacking; however, its cap has been set at an 8" touchscreen with wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Starting off with the seats, both vehicles offer heating and ventilation in the front row and heating in the back. The Sportage, however, also offers a heated steering wheel, setting itself apart from the Seltos. A cool feature included in both vehicles is the remote start. Kia has stated that the remote start will automatically turn on the heated seats and steering wheel when it is cold enough outside, and the ventilation and air conditioning when it is hot enough outside. This feature will definitely be a hit for those with varying climates.

The comparison in features between the 2023 Kia Sportage and 2023 Kia Seltos is not going to highlight many differences as the two vehicles are designed to fill the same role. Most of the differences are only going to be in quality, with the Sportage being the higher-end vehicle. That being said, the Seltos will certainly not be lacking.

4. Performance and Engine Options

The 2023 Kia Seltos also has two available engine options, standardized to the type of power choice both cars offer along with well-rounded fuel economy. The LX, EX, and S Turbo share the 2.0L 4-Cylinder engine at 146 horsepower and 132 pounds of torque. The base model LX comes with a 2.0L Multi-Port Injection (MPI) engine with Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The S and EX models have an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The fuel economy for these models is good, ranging from 27 city and 31 highway to 25 city and 30 highway. This is efficient and solid power for an AWD-sized car. The top SX Turbo model hosts a 1.6L Turbo engine with 175 horsepower and 195 pounds of torque, coming with a 7-Speed Quick-Shift DCT Automatic transmission. This is an impressive amount of power and an efficient drivetrain option. It is a step up from the S Turbo for the Sportage, as well as offering better fuel economy. With the limited or no cost difference between the engines and better fuel economy, the Seltos offers a good comparison to the consumers' preferred functional performance of a small SUV.

The new Seltos has two engine options, with the bigger one being the choice for the ELX and T-GDI models, which have the 1.6L Turbo GDI with automatic all-wheel drive. When compared to the Seltos, the smaller engine for the Sportage has very similar performance as well as fuel efficiency between the two.

The 2023 Kia Sportage has two available engine options, standardized to the type of power choice both cars offer along with a well-rounded performance. The base model offers a 1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4 with 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded engine is a 2.5L Inline-4 pumping out 187 horsepower with 178 pounds of torque. The two engines are quite similar and do not offer a drastic difference in performance. The S Turbo model with 240 horsepower has been discontinued. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available. An 8-speed automatic transmission is included with the base 1.5L, while the 2.5L sports a new 8-speed Wet Dual Clutch Transmission.

4.1. Sportage

The Australian version of the Sportage will have a diesel option using the R-series 2.0L engine, producing 136 BHP at 4000 RPM, and the same 1.7L U-series engine found in the European version. The Chinese version of the Sportage will have the option of 1.6T GDI, producing 130 BHP, whilst consuming 8.4L per 100KM. And a cheaper 1.6T using T-GDI engine, producing 174 BHP, whilst consuming 8.4L per 100KM. The New Zealand Sportage will have an engine lineup similar to the Australian version with slight changes due to market demand. With there being so many options in terms of engines, it gives the consumer a lot more choice compared to the Seltos if they were to determine the best engine suited for their needs in regards to power, fuel efficiency, and the applied market. (Sobol & Dyjakon, 2020)(Sakib et al., 2024)(Abdul-Manan et al.2020)(Fernández et al., 2021)(Casey et al., 2024)(Voronin & Ævarsson)

The Sportage has a lot more to offer in terms of engine options compared to the Seltos. It comes with a variety of engines in differing specifications between countries. The USDM Sportage will almost certainly come with the same 2.4L 4cyl found in the Seltos, producing 184 BHP at 6000 RPM, whilst consuming 9.9L per 100KM. It will also come with the USDM Seltos SX Turbo engine, the Theta-II 2.0L Turbo, producing 240 BHP and consuming 11.4L per 100KM. The Sportage will still have more engine options for different markets, like the 1.7L diesel U-series engine, producing 115 BHP at 4000 RPM, whilst consuming 6.3L per 100KM.

4.2. Seltos

On the other hand, the 2023 Kia Seltos will likely have a better fuel efficiency option in comparison to its bigger brother. The Seltos comes with two engine options, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder which is likely to be the same engine as the base model of the Sportage, and another engine which is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. If these are the same engines found in the current generation Sportage, choosing the lighter, more compact Seltos will have better fuel savings with engines that produce relatively similar performances. The Seltos definitely has a fuel-efficient edge with an engine option of the same power, while having the lighter body and potentially updated transmissions in the year 2023.

As the fourth generation of Kia's compact SUV, the 2023 Kia Sportage comes with three engine options. The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with the capacity to produce 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. The middle-range engine option is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the same engine found in the newly released Hyundai Sonata. This engine has the ability to produce 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Both of these engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission. The other available transmission is a six-speed manual that only comes with the base model of the Sportage. Unfortunately, there are no official fuel ratings for the Sportage due to this generation not being present in North America and is believed to be released as a 2023 model in that region. Although the base engine is recommended as it is the only engine to come with front-wheel drive, the others are all-wheel drive only and since fuel ratings are not released, probably not the most fuel-efficient options.

4.3. Fuel Efficiency

Characterizing the Seltos as the spiritual successor to the first Kia Sportage may anger some, but the facts support it. The first-generation Sportage, a genuine BoF 4x4, was an awkward-looking thing. Redesigned with unibody construction for the 2005 model year, the Sportage became a much more pleasant and credible crossover. The Seltos is the same: a unibody vehicle sharing much with the concurrently redesigned new generation of the current Sportage. Both of these Kia models offer the increasingly rare choice of two or all-wheel drive, but the various drivetrains aren't created equal. All Seltos models except the base LX come with a fuel-sipping 2.0L engine and a CVT automatic that’s rated at up to 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Opting for AWD drops those numbers slightly. Step up to a Seltos S Turbo, however, and fuel economy’s pretty much thrown out the window. That model and its 1.6T engine is only rated at 25/30. We're currently unable to provide a precise breakdown for the 2023 Sportage’s fuel economy but it shouldn’t be too far off what the Seltos can manage considering they both have unibody construction and are offered with similar engine and fuel system options. The standard Sportage will utilize a 2.5L naturally-aspirated engine while the LX Turbo and the just added X-Pro Trim feature the 1.6T from the Seltos. All of these engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic. AWD isn’t standard on any of these models like it is on the Seltos, so that’s something to keep in mind when comparing it. The new X-Pro, however, adds a sage green paint option, unique interior and exterior trim, and a roof rack. It’s a front-wheel drive only model that might be better suited to your trip to the mountains in search of fresh powder. Learn More about SUV lineup overview.


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