Home Tech Kia Sportage First Look: Big Style, Big Screen, Big Hybrid Plans

Kia Sportage First Look: Big Style, Big Screen, Big Hybrid Plans

Hyundai and Kia are clearly rivals, albeit sibling rivals. The two brands feature overlapping offerings, each with a distinct character and design. This competition is proving very good for consumers with an eye for style, as the two brands trade bleeding-edge design broadsides. Take, for instance, the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s neo-retro vibe. Kia’s EV6 rides on the same platform, with an equally avant-garde look—but much sleeker. The EV6 is part of Kia’s forward-looking “Opposites United” design philosophy. Kia’s electric SUV may have forged this design language, but the brand new 2023 Kia Sportage is going to be its crucible.

You’re looking at the home market version, so expect to see more details about the U.S.-market 2023 Sportage in the near future. Whatever else changes in terms of content between the two, the styling inside and out ought to remain largely the same. It’s a reimagining the Sportage desperately needed—the current model debuted way back in 2016 for the 2017 model year. The Sportage’s styling turned heads a half-decade or so ago (it was certainly provocative, by the standards of the time), but now it just looks stale.

Especially next to the new model. Look at the complex interplay between the boomerang running lights and the new “Digital Tiger Face”—a paired design element that sits above, and complements, a complex and contemporary grille. As is the trend, the actual headlamps are less prominent than the running light arcs. Below the grille, a wide lower intake and fog lamps sit below a body-colored chinstrap. The sides are deeply sculpted, and the kicked-up D-pillar garnish is a neat variation on the floating roof theme, which will surely be enhanced with the option of a contrasting black-finished roof. The rear plays with some EV6 styling concepts (albeit with less dramatic, larger taillights), but on the whole, this is a bold look for Kia compact SUV. In fact, it barely registers as a relative of today’s Sportage.

The interior has almost as much of the sci-fi shuttlecraft look as the EV6’s cabin. The most prominent part is the massive curved slab, a fusion of infotainment and instrument display that comes off a bit like a junior varsity version of the Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen. It sweeps across an elegant dash, terminating where a large air vent and trim piece picks up and sweeps clear to the door card. There are contrasting material colors melded with piano black and bright metal—particularly in the large, solid-looking interior door handles.

In terms of equipment—powertrains, options, and so forth—we have scant details. Global-market information points to two engine choices, but one is a diesel and therefore unlikely to come to the U.S. The other engine is Kia’s gas-fed turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4; it comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or—again, don’t get your hopes up, Americans—a six-speed manual transmission. Expect the 1.6L engine to make it here, along with its dual-clutch automatic; a less powerful, non-turbo I-4 is a possibility for entry-level models, as well. Kia promises hybrid and plug-in hybrid Sportages are coming, but for which markets and when, it isn’t clear.

But we do get a glimpse of the more rugged-looking X-Line version, with a much different lower front fascia, blocky side sill trim, a patterned rear bumper, and the addition of a roof rack. Inside, sage green or black trimmed seats pair with quilted accents and “black metal wood” for a premium outdoorsy feel. Sadly, it seems we’ll have to wait to get a glimpse of this chic-sounding interior decor, along with more details about the U.S.-market Sportage.

This article was originally published June 7, 2021, and has been updated to reflect new powertrain information released for global markets, as well as the news that a hybrid and plug-in hybrid are in the offing.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Pros and Cons Review: The Boss Is Back

The Cadillac Escalade didn’t invent the concept of the luxury full-size SUV, but it’s been so dominant for so long you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Even as the competition caught and surpassed it, the biggest Caddy remained a staple of red carpet premieres, music videos, and valet lots. Now, though, the boss is back. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade takes every criticism leveled at both itself and the Cadillac brand head-on and comes away with barely a scratch.

We can’t begin anywhere but the interior. For years, we’ve begged GM to give Cadillac the budget and freedom to design world-class interiors, and the most we’ve received is high-quality materials held back by lackluster design, frustrating technology, and too many parts cribbed from the Chevrolet bin. Finally, finally, Cadillac has been given license to deliver a truly wonderful interior. This Escalade’s interior is exactly what we’ve been asking for—and what we’ve known Cadillac is capable of.

With so many obvious examples to point to, let’s begin with one less apparent but the most effective. Cadillac’s inspired use of a woven, linenlike fabric on the door cards and lower dashboard surfaces is one of the best interior design features we’ve seen in years. In places most luxury automakers are content to fill with (nice) plastic, Cadillac has brought both aesthetic and tactile value.

The expert application of wood complements the clever use of fabric. The exquisite marquetry inlays stretching across the dash, doors, and center console are the kind of thing we’re used to seeing only in considerably more expensive hand-built vehicles.

The showstopper sits atop all that fabric, wood, and the finest grade of leather we can recall seeing in a modern Cadillac: 38 inches of curved, OLED touchscreen. Not just massive, the screens produce crisp imagery, react immediately to the touch, and pack cutting-edge features. We especially love how it extends touchscreen functionality to the left side of the instrument cluster.

Farther afield, GM engineers get full credit for finally ditching the live rear axle and fitting an independent rear suspension that allows for a fold-flat third row capable of comfortably seating adults.

The true measure of luxury, though, is in the details, and Cadillac missed one or two. As good as the interior is, we still find parts borrowed from significantly cheaper Chevrolets, such as the shifter, control stalks, and minor buttons. Cadillac didn’t start equipping Escalades with its industry-leading Super Cruise technology until three months into production, and in the meantime the adaptive cruise control is far too aggressive in accelerating and braking for a luxury product.

Although the Escalade handles shockingly well for a 6,000-pound behemoth, our editors were disappointed by its ride quality. Be it because this is a Sport Platinum model, because of its heavy 22-inch wheels, or both, “the Cadillac is best when driven sporty, and it rides like a garbage truck in Touring mode over rough roads,” head of editorial Ed Loh said. “Small bumps reverberate through the seat and wheel as flinty tremors.”

We know Cadillac can do better because we had the Chevrolet and GMC versions of this chassis on hand with the same magnetic shocks and air suspension, and both had superior ride quality.

We were equally disappointed to see that despite the application of the latest fuel-saving technology, the Escalade has gone backward on efficiency compared to the old model (from 17 to 16 mpg combined with 4WD).

The new Escalade is without a doubt a massive improvement, and it’s a long-desired validation of what Cadillac can do. “This is not a slam dunk package overall, but it’s absolutely solid,” Buyer’s Guide boss Zach Gale said. “The Escalade no longer rides on reputation alone.”