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Kia Sportage Ex vs. SX 2023

1. Differences between Kia Sportage Ex and SX

The interior of both vehicles is similar in layout and design, but the SX has a lot more to offer. The Ex model has standard leather seats, but the SX has a black woven cloth headliner, a unique SX pattern, and standard metal effect interior trim. It also has the optional white LED interior lighting which the Ex does not come with. A few other extra features which the SX offers are the push-button start with smart key, power driver's seat, and dual-zone automatic climate controls, all of which the Ex does not come with standard. With a flat-bottomed steering wheel and metal finish pedals with rubber inserts, the SX has a sportier feel because all designed to optimize driver control. Overall, the Ex and SX both have an impressive interior, the SX definitely being the higher priced and more luxury of the two. Learn more about Kia tech advancements.

The Kia Sportage Ex and SX have some apparent differences. Although both vehicles have four doors and an automatic transmission, the similarities end there. The exterior of the Ex has a standard black grille, while the SX has an upgraded SX-specific black and hyper silver grille. The SX also has a sportier look with its unique front and rear lower bumpers and sporty black side sills. This adds to the overall 'urban' and sporty feel of the vehicle. With dual exhaust tips and LED rear combination lamps, the SX is definitely sportier in comparison to the Ex. The Ex has standard 17-inch alloy wheels, while the SX has 18-inch alloy wheels. The wheels are specifically designed for the SX model, further adding to the sporty and unique look of the vehicle. All these features make the exterior design of the SX model look much sportier than its base model counterpart, the Ex.

1.1. Exterior design

Designed with a modern, minimalist aesthetic, the 2023 Kia Sportage Ex style is both fresh and dynamic. The assertive front end incorporates a detailed full-width headlamp that integrates daytime running lamps to create a T-shape graphic. Front headlamps are positioned slightly below the long clamshell hood and further enhance this high-tech look. The powerful side view is characterized by a long wheelbase, short overhangs, and a sporty, upswept beltline. The unmistakable profile is further distinguished by a variety of 17 or 18-inch wheels depending on trim. The SX version is designed with a very sporty and aggressive demeanor that is immediately identifiable by unique front and rear bumpers and side sill moldings, a unique glossy black front grille, unique 18-inch alloy wheels that visually pose the vehicle in a ready-to-pounce stance. Other exterior differentiators on the SX include smart welcome and pocket lighting for driver convenience and, from a practical perspective, a rear window wiper for improved rear visibility in various weather conditions. Demonstrating the striking appearance as an SUV with true athletic and sporty lineage inspired by a performance-oriented crossover, the SX model will consistently captivate a customer looking to make a bold statement.

1.2. Interior features

Furthermore, the driver can adjust the seats more optimally because of the BOSE Premium 12-way power adjustable seats with 4-way power lumbar and thigh support, along with seating memory.

Stepping into the cabin, the driver and passengers will feel comfortable because of the leather seats that have a heating and ventilating system. Additional features from the Kia Sportage SX include the ability for the driver to play music with premium JBL speakers, which consist of 8 speakers and a subwoofer. This makes the sound more clear. Because of the speakers, the SX also has an active noise control system for cancellation.

Now let's move on to the interior features that the SX has. The SX is the upper level from the EX. The SX has several additional features, such as Interior Chromatic lighting. The driver and front passenger can also enjoy the panoramic sunroof. Just like the 2023 Kia Sportage EX, they can still open the door without taking the key from the bag because of the smart key and push start button.

2023 Kia Sportage EX has impressive interior features such as an 8-inch infotainment system with a touchscreen, along with AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM audio. Moreover, it has 6 speakers to make a soundtrack while driving. Equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the driver can connect their smartphone with the car. Besides, it has a Rear View Monitor (RVM) with a parking guide. One more feature that should be noted is the Air Ventilation System, which helps maintain a comfortable condition for the driver and passengers. The driver and front passenger can enjoy the electric seat with 10-way power adjustable settings as well. And there is an option for the driver to open the door without taking the key from the bag because of the smart key and push start button.

1.3. Performance and engine options

Looking now at the SX, designed as the top-of-range Sportage model that offers increased style and performance with only a marginal higher cost against the previous Sportage Limited model, the objective for the SX was simple: to provide a sportier and more elegant style as visualized by lead designer Takeshi Kumura. The SX is the star of the Kia design. You can instantly recognize it by just seeing it. The refined interior and also refined powertrain dynamics with style and functionalities differentiate it from other models in the Sportage lineup. This is reflected using different front and rear bumpers, a unique skid plate and metal look trim for the front and rear, hidden exhaust tips, and newly developed 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels make the SX unmistakable, as well as offering a more defined rear spoiler than the Ex model.

To forge the noticeable changes, one has to know what the previous model has accomplished. With a combination of sleek lines, smooth surfaces, and classic proportions, Kia's reimagining of the Sportage design was much lauded. The objective for the KE was to create an obvious visual differentiation between the two grade lines. Lead designer for the Sportage crossover, Joel Piaskowski, said, "We really wanted to get a high level of elegance, sophistication, and luxury to distinguish the car from the predecessor." This has been accomplished with the Ex model that sits as Kia's lower mid-range larger crossover SUV. The designer for the Ex, Keon Min Park, gives us his insight. He has a simple yet modern design focus for the Ex model with up-level quality on top of the previous Sportage because it's more of a target on a budget mainstream vehicle compared to the previous. This is obvious with the high beltline and swept-back A-pillar, window chrome surrounds, and combination of 18 and 19-inch alloy wheels. The Ex is a sleeker yet larger and more refined look of the old Sportage.

1.4. Technology and connectivity

Just like the other elements of the car, the technology and connectivity of the Kia Sportage Ex and Sx are very different. The Ex, as mentioned previously, has an 8-inch touch LCD for their stereo, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Bluetooth has voice recognition and is also wireless-enabled. It has 5 USB ports in total, and their Smart key remote also comes with an AC outlet, which can be extremely helpful. It has a 4-speaker stereo and also a sound-reducing front window glass. It also has an Ergo Package for $3700, which is a step up from the standard Ex model. This package includes a 12-inch dual LCD, which is touch-enabled and has Blue Link Connected Car Capability. It has wireless phone charging and an AC inverter in the rear. The sound system improves to Harman Kardon Premium speakers, which consists of 8 speakers and a digital amplifier. All features of this package are justified, which includes an auto consumer which does the most work compared to a cell. On the other hand, the SX's standard proceeding package is extremely advanced, thus the Ex's Ergo Package is not as noticeable. This SX has a 10.25-inch touch screen working with Navigation. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless-enabled. There are 5 USB charging ports, and the SX also comes with a smart key system, which includes a push-to-start ignition. The smart key remote is more advanced, and keys include an auto-folding mirror and power remote for the lift gate. It has a 6-speaker wireless phone system that leads to a higher Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands. The Ex Ergo Package may have been comparable to the CX memory package, but after 2002, there is no comparison.

1.5. Safety and driver assistance features

Safety is always a top priority while creating a vehicle, and the Sportage's designers have made a conscious effort to continue the vehicle's history of offering a high level of safety to Kia shoppers. Highlights include a Driver Attention Warning system, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist control, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, and safety exit assist. These are all features offered in upper trim levels, but the availability of a compelling list of active safety technology in a compact CUV like the Sportage is a welcome sight to see. Not to be outdone, the CX-5 has its own suite of safety technology. That being said, the Sportage is a step ahead. Why? Many of the CX-5's driver aids are optional on the base Sport model, but they are standard starting with the popular level EX trim and continuing up. Opting for a Sportage EX will get you the same level of standard active safety technology as the already mentioned award-winning Sportage LX. A feature called Smart City Brake Support is now added to the CX-5's i-ACTIVSENSE package. This is a low-speed automatic emergency braking system. Competing with this, the 2017 Sportage EX uses a similar feature called Autonomous Emergency Braking. Both systems are designed to assist in preventing or lessening impacts at speeds under 19mph by employing a sensor to detect obstructions. If the system determines a collision is possible, it will prepare the brakes and an alert will be sounded. If the driver fails to respond, the system will automatically apply the brakes. This advanced feature is something Kia already offers on a current model year vehicle. The fact that it's still not available on all new vehicles in the market today is a testament to Kia's aggressiveness in offering advanced safety features.

2. Pricing and trim levels

The top trim level for the 2023 Kia Sportage is the SX model. The SX model is perfect for someone who wants luxury and technology. Compared to the 2022 Kia Sportage, the 2023 SX model is less expensive. It comes with a 2.0L turbo I4 engine. The standard features for the Sportage SX are similar to the previous year but will also include the standard AWD. The starting price for the 2023 Kia Sportage SX is $34,590, which is $600 cheaper than the previous year's SX AWD. This makes it the perfect time to buy a Sportage SX. The fuel economy and the maintenance may not be cost-effective, but it comes with a 5-year, 60,000-mile manufacturer's basic warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. This gives people assurance of the longevity and durability of their Sportage.

The Kia Sportage EX comes as the base trim level. It is offered at an affordable starting MSRP. Compared to the previous year, the 2023 base model has gotten more expensive. This SUV is perfect for someone who wants the Kia Sportage but does not need the luxury or technology. The Sportage EX comes with standard features, including a 2.4L I4 engine, 18" alloy wheels, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, rear occupant alert, and rear cross traffic alert. The Kia Sportage EX comes with standard front-wheel drive. Kia is offering all-wheel drive as an additional package for the 2023 Kia Sportage EX. The all-wheel drive option will add to the price of the vehicle. The starting price for the 2023 Kia Sportage EX is $28,390 with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive will bring the starting price to $29,890.

2.1. Base trim level (Ex)

The base trim level would not be complete without some kind of interior and exterior standard for appearance and comfort. The Ex trim level has plenty of standard to offer. 18-inch alloy wheels are standard on the Ex trim level. This sets the standard for wheels on any modern vehicle, as economy models still come with 16-inch wheels. The Ex trim level's standard side and rear privacy glass are absent on the Lx trim, essentially eliminating the need to buy any window tinting. It is a great visual and comfort feature for those with passengers or pets that might be affected by sun rays. Dual-level cargo floor and comfortable woven cloth seating round out the interior and comfort features on the Ex trim level. The cargo floor can be useful in a variety of ways, especially for those who make frequent vehicle repairs and transport tools/materials. Woven cloth seating is going to be the most reliable interior material for consumers looking for a vehicle that will last a long time. With the aforementioned content, it is easy to see that the 2023 Kia Sportage Ex trim level is a great value with safety and technology being the main focus.

The Ex trim level has several standard safety and technology features, setting a standard for what to expect at any given price point for a modern vehicle. Pedestrian detection, cyclist detection, and intersection turning assist are among the more advanced safety features that come standard with the Ex trim level. These safety features are usually options and sometimes not even available on other makes of vehicles at this price point. This is a great selling point for those safety-conscious consumers on a budget. A beautifully modern 8-inch touch screen, dual climate control system, and heated front seats round out the technology and comfort features on the Ex trim level. Dual climate and heated seats are nice features to have for Canada's cold climate. All mentioned features are available on any 2023 Kia Sportage, regardless of trim level. This shows how even the base trim level has great value, picking up where the older Sportage models left off on higher trim levels.

The Ex trim level comes with a 2.4-liter Nu 4-cylinder GDI engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain is standard across all gas-burning models for the new Sportage. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is a great engine with a fantastic reliability track record. It is definitely a wise choice for a base model with intentions of longevity. This is the only 4-cylinder engine option for the 2023 Sportage.

The base trim level for the 2023 Kia Sportage is the Ex trim. This is the second-to-lowest trim level that Kia has to offer for the new Sportage. The Ex trim level is not to be confused with the Nightfall edition, which has a similar price point but is more of an appearance package. The Ex trim level is currently the cheapest all-wheel-drive model you can get for the 2023 Kia Sportage. With a starting price of $28,420, it is a great value for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

The 2023 Kia Sportage has a revised set of trim levels after the 2020 model iteration. The trim levels are reorganized and different from the previous years of the popular crossover. In this article, we will be exploring the pricing and trim levels of the revised 2023 Kia Sportage.

2.2. Top trim level (SX)

In terms of suspension, the SX gets a unique sport-tuned setup, which is essentially different shock absorbers and different tuning on the struts. This tuning provides a stiffer ride and more stable handling during spirited driving. The tradeoff will be less ride comfort when driving over rough roads, but the upgrade may be worth it for those who enjoy driving.

The SX comes standard with all-wheel drive, or you can go for the optional premium package to get it. The Dynamax all-wheel drive system is a very competent system in a variety of driving scenarios and is fueled by an electronically controlled transfer case, providing true on-demand operation. This setup will give the edge to the Sportage over other compact SUVs without advanced all-wheel drive systems. The Dynamax system only incurs a 1-2 mpg loss in fuel economy compared to the front-wheel drive setup.

First, the top trim level SX comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This engine makes a significant jump from the base 181 horsepower by churning out 240 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. This engine provides a significantly more fun driving experience and hauls the Sportage to 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds. The added power does cost more fuel though, with 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway provided with front-wheel drive and 19/26 with all-wheel drive. This is still much better fuel economy than most V6 compact SUVs that compete with the Sportage.

2.3. Optional packages and upgrades

The Kia Sportage comes with a variety of optional packages and upgrades that are available on some Ex and Sx trims, which we will delve into. A heated front seats package is the first optional package on the Ex trim and is self-explanatory what it includes for $500. An option to upgrade saving gas is available with a 2.4-liter i4 gas direct injection engine. This comes packaged with the UVO entertainment system for $1,500, with a rear camera display and automatic Dual Zone climate control, which is great for conserving gas in different weather conditions, with a $1,300 increase on the total price. The Premium package comes next and includes a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system, a feature that comes standard with all Sx models, a panoramic sunroof, back-up warning system, leather seating, ventilated front seats, a 4-way power front passenger seat with air-cooled front driver seat, a cargo cover, and push button keyless start, all features at an additional cost of $3,200. Finally, for the Ex, there is the special panoramic sunroof package for an additional $900. All the packages provide great features that can be customized to satisfy the driver's needs.

3. Customer reviews and ratings

And with the purchase of a new vehicle, safety is always a concern. This new Sportage offers dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and there is also a driver's knee airbag. A four-wheel brake system is standard, as well as stability control and traction control systems to help prevent any loss of control during harsh driving conditions. Its best safety feature would probably be its front and rear crumple zones, to help absorb impact and to help keep passengers safe inside the vehicle. Overall, it has good ratings across the board and not many troubles. Family and loved ones will surely feel secure in this vehicle, and nobody wants to see these stupid airbags work, but it's always nice to know that they are there.

Not everything is perfect though, it does have a few minor setbacks. The EX base model seems to be lacking a few features and options that just aren't available. I've noticed for the windshield wipers, there are no ways to turn them on steady or adjust the speed for intermittent. Wipers will just go with an on or off setting with the speed depending on the pressure applied to the switch. Mirage? Possible, it's just a personal thought. I've yet to find anything on this. And there are no fog lights available, and it looks as if there is no option to install any. They would be good for safer driving in hazardous weather conditions, and it gives a more aggressive look to the vehicle. Nothing else I can really speak of, and it really isn't much of an issue because everything else seems to be just an excellent fit.

Powered with a 2.4L DOHC 16-valve I4 engine and 6-speed transmission, this car pretty much speaks for itself. Handling is superb and brakes are very responsive with a firm and secure feel. This new Sportage also provides a smoother and quieter ride than its predecessors. I am very impressed with the MC MacPherson-strut front suspension and independent dual-member multi-link rear suspension. It's almost as if there is no rough road that could ever make its way into the vehicle. With an overall MPG rating of 27 (actual personal results will vary), it is great for fuel economy and won't be too heavy on the pockets. The only downside would have to be the AWD model, which is only able to tow 1650 pounds. This would be a perfect vehicle for someone who loves the outdoors and often launches boats or tows trailers.

Kia Sportage Ex was the new car that was soon to be among the masses. With no delays, it defined its perception in a unique way. Replacing my VW Jetta, I find this car refreshing the small SUV category with a pleasure to drive, stylish and sporty looks, and a contemporary feel. I am really impressed with the safety features on the EX and the perfect size for a growing family. I just feel very pleased with this purchase as Kias are often overlooked, but with this vehicle, I will not have any buyer's remorse and do not regret a thing. This new model sure seems to have hit the nail on the head. Kia has yet to hit a home run, with the redesign of the 2011 Sorento and now this 2011 Sportage, they are getting a lot closer and finally starting to dig into the competition. It has many selectable variations and options for everyone's taste.

3.1. Ex model reviews

Because the Kia Sportage is a new model in the market, there are not many reviews on the vehicle yet. There were only two short reviews on the Ex model of the car. One customer said they were very happy with the cargo space in the vehicle. The automatic feature to fold down the back seats and provide a completely flat surface is perfect for loading a full-size dog crate and camping gear. The customer was torn between the V6 RAV4 and the Ex Kia Sportage. They determined that the 10-year warranty was the final selling point for them. The only qualm they have with the purchase is the fact that the vehicle isn't 4WD all the time. But they have not yet had any issue with it yet. All in all, they are very satisfied with the Kia Sportage and continue to discover new features that make the car even more convenient for their family. The second review was based on a lease of the vehicle but did not say for how long. The customer would recommend the vehicle although when factoring the value we received, he says that he made a better deal when leasing the 2002 Kia Sportage. With the trade-in he got on it and the price per month, this should have been a comparable deal but it wasn't. He feels it may be tough to keep up a lease on this vehicle for more than a couple of years but would definitely buy if it was the same price as the 2002 lease. He loves the comfort of the vehicle and how it drives. Also, he is impressed with the updated features of the new Kia Sportage. The only complaint was being misled into thinking that the 2005 Sportage is completely different than the popular 2003 model sold for only 2 years. A trim level walk-through on the website wouldn't hurt to guide customers in the right direction.

3.2. SX model reviews

The additional horsepower provided by the SX's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes a noticeable difference. With improved acceleration, the SX is faster and feels sportier than the EX. However, the increased performance comes at the expense of lower fuel efficiency. The SX's fuel economy, rated at 19/26 for FWD and 18/23 for AWD, is noticeably lower than the EX's 22/29 rating for both FWD and AWD. This was a deciding factor for many SX owners who preferred the higher fuel efficiency of the EX. The SX offers an optional package not available for the EX which includes a navigation system and a premium audio Infinity system. Overall, the system has received mixed reviews with some dazzled by all of the additional features and others irritated with glitches and malfunctions. A few SX owners expressed disappointment that the UVO system is not available on any Kia Sportage in 2011. High marks were given by a number of owners for the SX's LED back-up lights and the HID xenon lights which have sharper and brighter beam that helps make nighttime driving easier.

3.3. Overall customer satisfaction

I don't want to lead this too much one way or the other. Pros and cons are only provided when necessary or under-discussed by this point. These reviews are meant to express the customer satisfaction with each vehicle. To draw to these conclusions, customer input from the Kia Owners Group, held on Facebook, was assessed. Questions were asked on the group pages regarding real-world fuel economy, known issues, and Kia's customer service. These are all actual concerns of Kia owners. Gathered from Kia Forums, reviews were also sourced from The Car Connection and Edmunds. These reviews draw from the general consensus of recent Kia buyers. "Would you buy another Kia product in the future?" is the question we answer in determining overall customer satisfaction. One thing everyone must understand before diving into reviews: no vehicle is perfect. Customer satisfaction formed by reviews often silences the quiet majority that have no problems. Often, the best response one can give to a question about whether or not they would purchase another Kia is based on how the particular vehicle treated them with regards to their ownership experience. This combined with real-world impressions gives us a license to give the best customer satisfaction deduced from the average Kia buyer, without sounding too positive or negative from the discontented minority/majority of either model.

4. Conclusion and final thoughts

When pondering the two sporty models, although more expensive, the SX is indeed the way to go for sporty and enthusiast drivers with the additional performance and appearance features over the EX. With a price tag over $33,000, the EX is not worth considering over the similarly priced top-of-the-line SX model, which not only offers more power and sport-tuned suspension, but also more features and packages not available with the EX. While it's hard to ignore the trend of vehicles increasing in price and equipment levels, with the Sportage, you truly get what you pay for. Model to model, the new Sportage, albeit more expensive, offers a vast increase in value with its quantity and quality of features and a large improvement in performance and ride quality from the outgoing third and fourth generation models.

In conclusion, the Kia Sportage has upped its game significantly in its fifth generation. It continues to provide great value and high levels of standard equipment like its predecessor. There are, however, a couple of downsides. The fuel economy in both models with the turbo engine is not up to par with other similar vehicles. Its interior design is not as user-friendly as the interior in the outgoing model, and its reliability and repair ratings may not be pleasing to some potential buyers with previous generation Sportages still fresh in their minds. However, what it lacks in one aspect, it clearly makes up for in other areas such as its fun-to-drive nature, acceleration, available features, and great standard warranty. To learn more, please read our guide: Sportage EX vs X-Line features.​​​​​​​