Opinion

The 2023 Kia Sportage’s Best Interior Trim Is A ‘Beauty Is Pain’ Proposition

Illustration for article titled The 2023 Kia Sportage's Best Interior Trim Is A 'Beauty Is Pain' Proposition

Photo: Kia

I fully support unconventional material and design choices in cars, especially in new production cars that people can actually buy. At first, I was in love with the 2023 Kia Sportage’s optional blue interior trim. Then the neat-freak in me cried out in horror and I realized I may not be able to embrace this one.

The fifth-generation Kia Sportage debuted last week with a bold new design that looks like a better version of what Mitsubishi has been attempting with its crossover designs lately. More details were shared this week.

Illustration for article titled The 2023 Kia Sportage's Best Interior Trim Is A 'Beauty Is Pain' Proposition

Photo: Kia

The new Sportage is on a new platform and now benefits from plenty of updated features including advanced driver assist, highway-driving assist, smart cruise control and forward-collision avoidance.

The new architecture also features an electronically controlled suspension with real-time damping management and a new Terrain mode with with various off-road drive settings. It’s expected to be available in the U.S. next year with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque as the base engine option.

Illustration for article titled The 2023 Kia Sportage's Best Interior Trim Is A 'Beauty Is Pain' Proposition

Photo: Kia

What really stands out to me is the blue-and-white interior option, though. As you can see from the images, the interior is very tasteful with the dark blue portions covering the most-commonly contacted surfaces of the car, like the door handle and steering wheel. This makes sense, because the darker color will naturally help hide some of the inevitable wear and discoloration from use. But the other half of the interior is contrasted with what looks to be white plastic. Whatever material, it is certainly white, and it covers some panels all the way down.

Illustration for article titled The 2023 Kia Sportage's Best Interior Trim Is A 'Beauty Is Pain' Proposition

Photo: Kia

And this is my main issue. Shoes scuff almost anything they touch , as anybody with white baseboards on their home walls will know. I can’t image this interior would be any different. After a few months, I bet both the driver and passenger door, where the white plastic surrounds the speakers sitting in the footwell, are scuffed to hell with little black shoe marks.

Illustration for article titled The 2023 Kia Sportage's Best Interior Trim Is A 'Beauty Is Pain' Proposition

Photo: Kia

And heaven forbid you may take a passenger who crosses their leg and scuffs that bright white center console, too. That’s also the panel right under the cupholders, so it’s going to show coffee spots the moment you take a speedbump if you’re not obsessively careful.

And then there’s the new massive touchscreen spanning two-thirds of the dashboard that will show dust and fingerprints from the moment it leaves the production line, regardless of what do to avoid it. Don’t get me started on the otherwise out-of-place piano black finishing around all of the buttons that will collect fingerprints.

Illustration for article titled The 2023 Kia Sportage's Best Interior Trim Is A 'Beauty Is Pain' Proposition

Photo: Kia

Of course it’s not the biggest deal. Many people wouldn’t think twice about my concerns because the interior looks cool and they can accept that it’s something they live with every day and will show it. That’s awesome, but there are also neat freaks out there.

Fortunately, Kia did put black paneling in most of the footwell, because I’m sure they’re somewhat aware of the shoe-scuff concern. I just feel perhaps the white goes a little too far down the door, and I would probably avoid the center console, too. Anything knee up would be mostly safe.

Regardless, you don’t have to get this trim, but we have plenty of car care tips for cleaning if you do feel like living boldly and going with the hot Sportage anyway.


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