The Kia Sportage is a small crossover that offers an appealing blend of style, standard features and optional turbocharged power. Kia recently updated the Sportage with several changes designed to reduce interior NVH levels and improve driving dynamics.
Unlike its somewhat bland 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 26.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, a number that rises to a healthy 54.6 cubic inches with the rear seats folded.
The base motor for the Sportage is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 176 horsepower and 168 lb-ft of torque. On entry-level models, the engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic is standard throughout the rest of the range. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway with the auto, while sticking with the stick shift reduces mileage to 20/27 mpg.
Those seeking a bit of extra oomph can opt for the SX model, which brings a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 260 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, enough to scoot the little crossover from zero-to-60 mph in just over six seconds while still returning 21/28 mpg.
Front-wheel drive is standard, with Kia's Dynamax all-wheel drive system on offer. Opting for the latter setup drops mileage to 20/27 mpg with the 2.4-liter motor and 20/25 mpg with the turbo 2.0-liter.
To reduce interior noise, vibration and harshness and refine handling dynamics, the latest Sportage features new rear dynamic suspension dampers, increased floor insulation and standard high-performance dampers on EX models.
Standard and Optional Features
Available in four trims - Base, LX, EX and SX- the Sportage boasts standard convenience features including air conditioning, power windows, door locks and mirrors, MP3 connectivity, Bluetooth wireless technology and SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service.
Many optional extras can be had, such as a panoramic sunroof, navigation, push-button start, rear camera display, LED daytime running lights and an air-cooled driver's seat (a compact CUV segment first).
Also available on the Sportage is Kia's UVO infotainment system, which uses Windows technology to facilitate hands-free smartphone operation via Bluetooth. The system includes a 4.3-inch color LCD touchscreen and 700 MB of music storage space.
All Sportage models come standard with dual front, side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.
Before driving home in a new Sportage, car shoppers should also research the Nissan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford Escape. Those looking for some real off-road capability might also be interested by the Suzuki Grand Vitara or the Jeep Liberty.