When the 2023 Kia Sportage was introduced, the big news was the off-road X-Pro trim that was new for the new body style. Featuring multi-terrain AWD with a locking differential, 8.3 inches of ground clearance, and plenty of room inside for people and gear, this Sportage was ready to take on the Subaru Forester Wilderness and the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road.
Having just gotten out of the SX-Prestige Hybrid AWD model though, we are wondering if this X-Pro trim is the best Sportage to buy, or if major tradeoffs were made in the pursuit of capability.
The biggest and most notable difference between the two is the difference in power. The turbocharged 1.6L turbo in the hybrid model felt much more lively thanks to its 277 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The larger, thirstier 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder in this X-Pro just felt overmatched. It never felt like it wanted to go anywhere or do anything other than make a lot of noise. While the transmission has 2 more gears versus the hybrid, the transmission never felt to be in the right gear. Overall, testing this one in the city and on highways had me wishing I was back in the hybrid model.
Otherwise, the look of this X-Pro version is striking and appealing. The added ground clearance, rugged tires, and blacked-out wheels definitely exude a more rugged demeanor versus the hybrid’s more upscale look. The two-tone paint on this X-Pro was also a winner. Jungle Green with a black roof pair nicely with the bold styling of the Sportage to make this look unlike any of its main rivals.
Interior appointments were largely the same, though the seats were wrapped in a different hue than our hybrid test vehicle. The gear selector is also a mechanical unit here in the X-Pro versus the dial in the hybrid model. While the dial allowed the hybrid to have the remote parking function, our X-Pro did not.
As someone who owns a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, the most capable off-road vehicle in this class until it was discontinued, I don’t know just how much off-roading I would do in a Sportage. I mean, we have had our Jeep for nearly a decade now and have only taken it wheeling a handful of times. Would I want to make the sacrifices listed above in pursuit of more off-road capability? Or would I just take the nicer, cheaper, and more efficient hybrid? I think my answer is clear. Which would you choose?
2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWD Specs:
2.5L 4-cylinder Engine
178 lb-ft of Torque
8-speed Automatic Transmission
All-Wheel Drive with Center Locking Differential
8.3-inches of Ground Clearance
Seating for 5
Heated and Ventilated Front Seats with 2-person Driver Memory
Second Row Reclining and Fold-flat Bench Seat
Syn Tex Seating Surfaces
17-inch Alloy Wheels
235/65R17 BF Goodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tires
12.3-inch Infotainment Screen with Wired Apple CarPlay® & Android Auto™
12.3-inch Digital Instrument Cluster
Harman Kardon® Sound System
Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control
Smart Hands-free Power Liftgate
39.6 Cubic Feet of Storage Behind the Rear Seats
74.1 Cubic Feet of Storage with the Second Row Folded Flat
Remote Parking SystemSurround View Monitor
Highway Drive Assist
Proximity Key with Push Button Start
EPA Fuel Economy 23/28/25 (city/hwy/cmb)
Starting MSRP $36,790 (X-Pro)
Price as tested: $38,665