The Kia Sportage is a compact crossover that offers an appealing blend of style, standard features and optional turbocharged power. It's one of the smaller models in its segment, meaning that cargo capacity is somewhat limited, although the trim dimensions do allow for more spirited driving dynamics than many rivals.
The Kia Sportage is all-new for the most recent model year, riding on the same platform as the recently revised Hyundai Tucson.
Unlike some of its blander predecessors, the latest Sportage features a sleek, modern and bold look highlighted by a high beltline, a gently sloping roof and Kia's "tab" corporate grille. The theme carries over in the interior, which has a sporty three-gauge instrument cluster and a contemporary feel. The Sportage offers 30.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, a number that rises to 60.1 cubic inches with the rear seats folded. Both are improvements over the outgoing model, but some rival crossovers can stow up to 70 cubes.
The Sportage now rides on the most up-to-date variant of Kia's midsize car/compact crossover platform. These family-car roots translate into a well-adjusted ride thanks to MacPherson struts up front and a muilti-link suspension in the rear.
Two engines are available in the new Sportage. Both are paired to conventional six-speed automatic transmissions and both are available in either two- (front) or all-wheel drive.
In LX and EX models, you'll find a direct-injected and naturally aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder which produces 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. In the LX, this engine is good for 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive guise and 22/25 with AWD. EX models consume slightly more, returning only 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway in front-wheel-drive form but the same 21/25 with all wheels driven.
SX models come exclusively with a 240-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injected engine which makes 260lb-ft of torque. FWD models are good for 21 mpg city and 26 highway, with AWD models checking in at 20/23.
The Sportage is capable of towing up to 2,000lbs in either powertrain configuration, but is limited to hauling only 1,600lbs if the trailer does not have its own brakes.
Like most contemporary overhauls, the Sportage's redesign brings with it a host of new technology and comfort features. It's the first vehicle in the company's lineup to offer UVO3--the most recent incarnation of its infotainment suite--and full smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The new Sportage also aims to improve upon the brand's value image by offering more upscale interior materials. The new model features more extensive use of soft-touch plastics and upgraded leather on higher-trim models.
Like previous Kias, the Sportage's control stack is canted slightly toward the driver, making the Sportage's front seat more cockpit-like.
Drivers who want the most engagement out of the Sportage should opt for the SX trim. Not only is it the only way to get the turbocharged engine, but it's also where you'll find integrated paddle shifters and a sport-tuned suspension.
Standard and Optional Features
The Sportage is offered in LX, EX and SX Turbo trim levels.
The LX comes standard with 17" alloy wheels, body-colored door handles, LED DRLs, auto on/off halogen projector headlamps, a rear spoiler, rear privacy glass, chrome window trim, power-adjustable side mirrors, and a rear window wiper on the outside. Interior features include a rear center armrest with cup holders, cargo hooks and a leather undertray for the hatch area along with a dual-level cargo floor, cloth seating, front seatback pockets, a manual-adjustable driver's seat, soft touch interior trim, rear HVAC vents, keyless entry, power door locks, wheel-mounted infotainment controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an AM/FM/MP3/USB audio system with six speakers and a 5" touchscreen display.
Two packages are available for LX models: the Popular package and the Cool & Connected package. The Popular package adds a 10-way power driver's seat, heated side mirrors, "solar control" glass, a windshield de-icer, heated front seats and Yes Essentials coated fabric surfaces. The Cool & Connected package adds dual-zone climate control and a 7" touchscreen display upgrade with Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity.
Moving up to the EX adds most of the features found in the LX with the Popular package, plus standard roof rails, half-chrome door handles, leather seating surfaces, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a smart key with push-button start and a driver's side one-touch auto up/down window.
The EX has two available packages as well. The EX Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, LED interior lighting and a heated steering wheel. The EX Technology package adds a smart power liftgate, high beam assist, a space-saver spare tier, a premium Harman/Kardon audio system with an external amplifier and subwoofer, front and rear park assist sensors, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, a voice-command navigation system with an 8" display, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat and ventilated front seats.
The SX not only comes with all the sporting accoutrements, it is also fully loaded. Standard kit includes 19" wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, LED fog lamps and tail lights, unique exterior gloss-black trim, a dual-outlet exhaust system, satin side sill trim, metal finished front and rear skid plates, metal finished pedals and scuff plates, a flat-bottom steering wheel, a stitched dash, black headliner, gloss black interior trim inserts and an upgraded 4.2-inch TFT cluster display. Where not replaced by unique features, it also includes all options found in the EX Premium and Technology packages.
All Sportage models are equipped with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and stability control; a rear-view camera; downhill brake control; LATCH anchors; height-adjustable seatbelts; and front; front-side and side-curtain airbags.
Blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and front and rear parking assist are available from the EX trim (with packages) and up.
Before driving home in a new Sportage, car shoppers should also research the Nissan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford Escape.