2023 Kia Sportage Plug-in Hybrid detailed, Australian plans unclear

The Kia Sportage is now available with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain in its longer body style, but the electrified SUV has yet to be locked in for a local launch.

Kia North America has detailed the new 2023 Sportage PHEV, which uses the longer body of the Sportage sold in markets like Korea, North America and Australia, instead of the shorter one used in Europe.

It shares its drivetrain with the Sorento PHEV, which also rides on the new N3 platform.

That means a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 132kW of power, a 66.9kW electric motor, a 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Kia North America hasn’t released total system outputs for the Sportage PHEV, but the European-market Sportage PHEV is quoted as having 195kW. There’s also 195kW and 350Nm on tap in the Sorento PHEV.

The company claims an all-electric range of 51km, and there’s a 7.2kW on-board charger.

It’ll go on sale in the US in the third quarter of 2022, but an Australian launch is far from certain.

“Kia Australia is keen to introduce an electrified variant/s to the Sportage range however, these matters take time and we don’t have a final confirmation either way from HQ,” said a spokesperson for Kia Australia.

“Which electrified variants will be included in the Sportage range is still under study.”

It’s a similar situation with the Sportage’s twin under the skin, the Hyundai Tucson, which still has yet to be confirmed for a local launch in either hybrid or plug-in hybrid guise.

In contrast, Kia is bringing the larger Sorento Hybrid and Sorento Plug-in Hybrid here, albeit in limited numbers, while the next-generation Niro small SUV will continue to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains.

In the US, the Sportage PHEV will be offered only in X-Line and X-Line Prestige trim levels, which feature unique front and rear bumpers with satin chrome accents plus a gloss black finish for the exterior mirrors, roof rack, window surrounds and the 19-inch alloy wheels.

The X-Line Prestige comes similarly equipped to our GT-Line, and includes Kia’s Remote Smart Parking Assist and Blind Spot View Monitor.

The number of hybrid and plug-in hybrid mainstream mid-sized SUVs in Australia remains small, though the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a juggernaut in our market.

Looking at plug-in hybrids, the repeatedly delayed Ford Escape PHEV should finally touch down in the second quarter of this year and the Peugeot 3008 GT Sport Plug-In Hybrid will be here sooner.

They’ll join the MG HS Plus EV, while the pioneer of this segment, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, is being redesigned. The new model is due in the first half of 2022.

Even looking at conventional hybrids, there aren’t many options beyond the RAV4.

Subaru has a hybrid Forester already one sale, while a hybrid Haval H6 is due here this year.

It’s still not clear whether Kia will bring its Sportage Hybrid here.

Power in the ‘regular’ Sportage Hybrid comes from the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol hybrid system as the larger Sorento Hybrid, combining with a 44kW/264Nm electric motor mounted ahead of the transmission for system outputs of 169kW and 350Nm.

MORE: Everything Kia Sportage

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