Kia Sportage X-Line: Sorento Junior
The Kia Sportage X-Line leaves a dramatic visage in its path, day or night. (Photo: Rory Daley)

The 2023 Kia Sportage X-Line is not only so far ahead of the other trims of the Sportage and rivals, it genuinely can be considered the best sport utility vehicle (SUV) in its segment. And that's not hyperbole.

It starts by Kia taking every element that made the larger Sorento a viable alternative in the premium SUV space — minus the seven-seat option — and successfully shoving them into the compact frame that is the Sportage.

Aggressive, futuristic, cutting edge, upmarket styling? Kia's got you. Due to its very distinctive front fascia the Sportage already looks like the Colonial Marines would drop onto the surface of a distant planet driving it and start blasting Xenomorphs. At night, that factor increases tenfold because of the lighting signature.

Appearance is subjective, but there doesn't seem to be a bad angle on the X-Line rolling on its standard 19-inch wheel package. For a further visual statement, buyers can opt for a factory matte black paint, leaving lasers and Madalorian armour as the only next viable accessories.

(Photo: Rory Daley)

Not that the fictional bounty hunter would have a problem with the interior in anyway. It's just a well-made, futuristic as his armour, with a lot more space.

The X-Line is packed with many of the amenities found on higher-end SUVs. Door handles are lit, with keyless entry, plus remote start. The comfortable fully powered heated and cooled seats with memory function move to aid ingress and egress. Once in the seat, drivers are met with large crystal clear dual screens, for vehicle instrumentation and infotainment. Leather, Alcantara, and piano black accents give everything a premium feel. The cabin's quality and spaciousness are accented by the panoramic sunroof when opened.

Passengers will have no problems with connectivity or storage solutions. Everything is ergonomic and can be automated through a few settings via the menus.

The emphasis on technology continues for driver operation and safety. Along with passive safety, like airbags, the Sportage has an extensive Advanced Driver Assistance System ranging from front and rear collision assist to Lane Following Assist that allows hands-free driving on properly marked roads for up to 20 seconds at a time.

The interior of the Sportage in X-Line trim push high into the premium space with its design, refinement and technology, leaving class rivals in the dust and several German options shook in their shoes. (Photo: Rory Daley)

Then there's the X-Line's killer App, diesel. This is a rare occurrence these days at this end of the market. The Sportage is able to bring the old and new together in this one moment. Old school buyers used to the days of diesel power as standard for an SUV now have a modern option, and newer buyers can reap said benefits of such a power plant. The 2-litre turbodiesel is smooth, powerful, and fuel efficient. The Kia leaves behind the stereotypes of the noisy, smoky, diesel engine. Left in eco and normal modes the Sportage can easily clear 40mpg. Even better it can ride the massive torque wave at will in sport mode.

On-road or off-road, it doesn't matter, the X-Line is composed and powerful, as the chassis dynamics enables it to be hustled along at engaging speeds with the security of its all-wheel drive system. There's more than enough road clearance, electronic aids. and low-end grunt from the engine for average off-roading, never feeling out of its depth.

The 2023 Kia Sportage X-Line combines old, well-thought-out ideas with the newest technology for a truly amazing experience in its segment.

BY RORY DALEY Observer writer

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