A red 2020 Kia Sportage for sale is shown driving on a road.

The Kia Sportage: A Brief History and a Thorough Analysis

A Kia Sportage for sale near you might be a great SUV choice. The Kia Sportage is the most popular of the Kia SUVs, and its reputation continues to grow. The newest models are filled with cutting-edge features, and there are plenty of great pre-owned examples that could be right for you. We’re going to detail the history of the Kia Sportage so you get the full picture of the SUV you’re looking at and discuss two different options for drivers: a new 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid, and a pre-owned 2020 Kia Sportage, to analyze the differences, similarities, and which could be the right pick for you and your passengers.

A white 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is shown parked on a street.

The History of the Kia Sportage

The original Kia Sportage was first introduced to Canadian drivers in 1995. While Kia enthusiasts might find some interesting tidbits in the history of the first-generation Sportage, it didn’t start to resemble the modern Kia Sportage until its second generation. By 2005, Kia had been acquired by Hyundai, and the new Sportage shared its basic platform with the Hyundai Tucson. The second-generation Kia Sportage turned heads mostly based on its affordable price. To achieve those lower costs, the second-generation Sportage may not have been the most attractive of vehicles, but no corners were cut in terms of the engine. The available 2.7-litre V6 engine was powerful for its time, offering 175 hp and a fuel efficiency rating of 12.0 L/100 km combined. Not too shabby for an SUV that’s nearly twenty years old.

Jumping ahead to the third generation of the Kia Sportage, the car shed its budget-option image and became a more serious competitor among other SUVs of its size. The complete redesign gave the Sportage a much sharper appearance, and the interior now felt more premium. The powertrain options were also completely overhauled, with the new generation offering either a 2.4-litre four-cylinder or a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder. With considerably more power and improved fuel economy, the third generation wasn’t just a fresh face for the Kia Sportage; it was an all-new vehicle.

In 2017, the fourth-generation Kia Sportage arrived. According to Kia, the exterior was redesigned with modern fighter jets as inspiration. The interior was also redesigned with modern technology, like a digital infotainment system on a 18 cm screen. The improved technology extends to driver-assist features such as lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and rear traffic alert. With a pair of gasoline engine options and available all-wheel drive, the Sportage continued to offer plenty of power for a compact SUV. Extending until 2022, the fourth generation of the Kia Sportage is certainly impressive––but there is an even newer model available. We’ll save the in-depth discussion of the fifth-generation Kia Sportage for the next section, where we’ll look at two specific models, so you can see for yourself how they perform.

A blue 2020 Kia Sportage is shown driving on a highway.

The 2020 Kia Sportage

The 2020 Kia Sportage––part of the fourth generation of this model––is compact, powerful, and versatile. However, that should come as no surprise as those elements are seemingly the trademark of the Sportage throughout its history. Affordable when new and even less expensive when used, you still get a feature-rich and dependable compact SUV. It comes equipped with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine capable of generating 181 hp, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s a serious amount of performance power you’ll be wielding in such a compact package. The 2020 Sportage is also available with all-wheel drive for better traction and driving stability, making it ready for when the terrain gets slippery or choppy.

Inside the vehicle, there’s improved technology to make your life as a driver easier and more entertaining. These features include an available Harman Kardon premium audio system and a 20 cm touchscreen display, a welcome addition to the dashboard that features the rear-view camera to help you straighten out your reverses, as well as entertainment features. Your smartphone can also pair with the display, which has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility to mirror your favourite smartphone apps. If that isn’t enough entertainment, the 2020 Sportage is available with SiriusXM satellite radio to provide you with access to music, news, and more wherever you may drive.

All the tech at your fingertips isn’t just used to make things easier but also safer. The 2020 Kia Sportage has the now-familiar lane-keeping assist that will apply corrective steering if the system detects the driver drifting outside their lane. In the worst-case scenario, the 2020 Sportage has a lifesaving feature called a Rollover Sensor. If the Sportage detects that your SUV is going to or has flipped, the system can deploy the side airbags, side curtain airbags, and seat-belt pretensioners. We never want to even think about our car turning sideways or upside down, but it’s reassuring to know that the 2020 Kia Sportage can protect you even in the most dire of circumstances.

You might have already fallen in love with the 2020 Kia Sportage, and you’ll be happy to know you can find it for sale at a reasonable price as a pre-owned option. But if you’re looking for a brand new, top-of-the-line version of the Sportage, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid might be a better option.

A white 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is shown parked near an ocean.

The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid

Unlike the 2020 model, the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid is a fifth-generation Sportage. That means all-new styling and a ton of advanced features and technologies. While the 2020 model isn’t bad-looking, the 2023 Sportage sports a more angular look that really catches the eye, especially the arrow-shaped daytime running lights that surround the headlamps. The 2023 Hybrid version of the Sportage also has massively improved performance capabilities.

The combination of a turbocharged gasoline engine and electric motors produces no less than 227 hp and is rated for an exceptional 6.3 L/100 km on the highway. That’s a premium upgrade, and it’s just the beginning. In addition to the standard Sportage HEV, there is also the Sportage PHEV. This plug-in hybrid generates 261 hp and has an electric range of 55 km. Whether filling up your fuel tank with gas or plugging in the SUV to top off your battery pack, you’ll be keeping your 2023 Kia Sportage PHEV on the road for long, smooth drives.

Inside, the new 31 cm panoramic digital displays feature both information and entertainment, as well as the necessary gauges. This all-digital dash is a big upgrade over the smaller touchscreen display of the 2020 Sportage. The seats and storage areas of the 2023 Sportage model are also larger and more spacious for additional legroom and cargo. The driver-assist features have been slightly upgraded, with a new Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist system that is designed to help detect a potential collision and automatically apply the brakes when necessary.

Which Is Best?

While a new 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid will cost you more than a pre-owned 2020 Sportage, it certainly does come with improved technology and power. We hope that seeing the history of the Kia Sportage highlights just how far it has come over the decades it has been on the market and how many improvements can be made in short periods of time. Consider both variants of the Kia Sportage if you’re on the lookout for a new or pre-owned SUV.