Kia has spent considerable time and effort designing and redesigning the Sportage which has grown over several years from a basic 4×4 that seemed to just be testing the waters into a market leader. As a powerful compact crossover, the Sportage has become one of the most popular and affordable options for any owner to choose from and know they have purchased an SUV that is worth much more than the price tag suggests. As one of the few SUVs that take the sport part seriously, the Sportage is full of performance and power to please any crowd.
With the crossover SUV segment growing rapidly, the Sportage has to compete head to head with other highly recognized names such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and the Nissan Rogue. All four of these offer more interior space but when compared with the Sportage lack the performance and power offered by Kia. With no changes from the 2014 model, those who worried they might have missed out last year are in luck as the Sportage has the same great offerings of a tall ride height, all-wheel drive and a very flexible cargo area.
Regardless of which Sportage model is chosen, the drive in this cool SUV shows off as one of great handling, a highly refined ride and luxury-like performance. With a stiff and refined suspension the ride is smooth and easily dispels and road defect that the vehicle finds. The steering is extremely responsive allowing the driver to feel completely in control of the vehicle. Add to this a braking system that is so cliché it could actually stop the SUV on a dime, a great benefit on light trails as well as on the road. The Sportage looks like it craves adventure and simply needs an owner to give it just that.
Taking a look under the hood, two engines are in place for shoppers to choose from. The base engine found in both the LX and EX models comes in the form of a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that offers up 182 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is married up to a six-speed automatic transmission that offers a manual shifting option. When paired, this powertrain offers a fuel efficiency of 21 city/28 hwy mpg in front-wheel drive and 19 city/26 hwy mpg for the all-wheel drive model.
The second and more powerful engine which is found under the hood of the SX model is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine which offers 260 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is also mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift selector. This powertrain achieves a fuel efficiency of 20 city/26 hwy mpg for the front-wheel drive version and 19 city/24 hwy mpg for the all-wheel drive model. Given the choice, this engine is the one to choose especially if the destination for this Sportage is some light to medium trail runs.
On the inside the Sportage offers a cabin that is fun and easy to enjoy. With soft and comfortable materials throughout the entire cabin the Sportage offers comfort in every seat. Add to this the roomy back seat with plenty of legroom for taller passengers to enjoy. For carrying cargo, the Sportage offers 54.6 cubic feet of storage when the rear seat is folded down as well as a variety of configurations to choose from made possible by the split folding rear seat. On the EX model the cloth on the seats is made of an anti-bacterial material, making this a great choice for the growing family.
Even though it is a small SUV, the Sportage offers an imposing and impressive stance that is aggressive, athletic and ready to roll. The front grill offers an interesting shape that Kia calls “tiger nose”. Regardless of what the shape actually is, the grill surrounded by chrome trim starts the interest and look of this SUV. The grill is flanked by two swept back headlights that start the eye moving to the hood to roof angle which is lower than expected, adding to the sport feel of this SUV. The sides are actually simple and not adorned with any body molding, but do offer a very high beltline, making the SUV look much taller than it really is. Finally the wheels show a design that resembles the pattern found in a sand dollar on the beach, which is a great destination for this SUV to be taken.
Starting at the base LX model, the standard features include a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, and SiriusXM satellite radio, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls, an Active Eco System, rear air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering column and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The EX adds the UVO infotainment system, an Infinity premium audio system with a subwoofer, a back-up warning system, a rearview camera, a cooling glove box and automatic climate control. The SX model adds HID headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. This all allows the base models of any of the trim levels to be very easy to enjoy and understand.
As for the optional equipment, the all-wheel drive is one of the only stand-along options with adds $1,500 to the price of the vehicle. The LX can be improved by adding the UVO system and the Popular Package which includes a rearview camera and keyless entry. The EX can be upgraded with a Premium Package which adds a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, leather trim and voice-navigation with SiriusXM traffic information. The SX can also be improved by adding the same Luxury Package as the EX Premium Package.
Starting with the base LX model, the Sportage offers and opening price point of $22,500. Moving up to the EX model will ask for a starting price around $26,000 and the SX comes in at opening just under the $29,000 price point. Adding everything available to the SX model will bring the price in at $34,000 which still keeps this as a very affordable SUV when compared to others in the same class.