Driving will get much easier when we have access to information. Think about the old days when all you could see was a speedometer and a gear shifter. You couldn’t tell if there were any cars near you by any other means except glancing at a mirror.
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX is a bold attempt to make information easier to find, and it works. I tested the crossover for a week and noticed how the expansive, widescreen display — it stretches from the left of the steering wheel all the way over to the passenger’s left knee — provides a crystal clear view for everything that matters as you drive.
I realized this when I was poking around while parked and trying to find something to listen to. Kia offers a mode when you can listen to nature sounds like a forest as you drive. It matches up quite nicely with another feature that monitors your attention level and knows if you are paying attention to the road or driving for too long.
I punched in the nature sounds and went for a long drive across town, often in heavy traffic. The Kia Sportage Hybrid EX offers a quiet and comfortable ride, so I didn’t pay attention to the guy honking at another driver or the brake-pumping truck next to me. All I heard was the chirping in a forest and, with a flick of my finger, called up Apple CarPlay and listened to an audiobook.
That type of cocooning in a car is unusual these days. In part, the reason the vehicle is such a joy to drive is because of the screen. Technically speaking, it is two 12.3-inch displays, but don’t mention that to my wife. She thinks it is one continuous 23-inch display, and for all intents and purposes, that’s actually true. (Look closely and you can see the black divider between the two screens.) It’s almost jaw dropping. I mean, this is not a $100,000 luxury sedan after all. I’ve seen similar wrap-around dashboard displays in Mercedes-Benz vehicles, but not in a crossover that starts at the comfortable and practical pricepoint of $25,990.
A friend recently bought one of these, and the logic behind it made sense. Older cars are now more pricey than ever, but new car prices have not jumped up as much as I would have thought. I checked a competing model from Subaru and it is roughly the same price it was before the pandemic. Car companies have not pounced on the current crazy economy lately, perhaps knowing that gas costs more and so does everything else, so jacking up the prices of new cars doesn’t really make sense (even though we all know houses prices went through the roof).
Does that make it easier to justify the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid EX? I would say yes. $25,990 is not outrageous for the base model, which still includes the 23-inch wrap-around screen.
On a drive home, I kicked through more of the settings, adjusted the bass, and even found a quiet mode that limits the radio to a specific sound volume. It was fun to be able to swipe quickly and find what I needed without a lot of hunting and pecking on the screen.
I remember the days when all you had was a speedometer. I don’t view those as the good old days. I prefer having access to all of this information — it’s quick, easy and efficient.