The compact crossover is easily one of the most competitive segments. Almost every automaker makes one and with so many options to choose from, how do you weed through the good and bad? There are the obvious heavyweights of the class, like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but maybe you’d like something that isn’t sitting in every driveway in your neighborhood? Well there’s the excellent Mazda CX-5 and what about the stylish Kia Sportage? The Kia Sportage was one of Kia’s first models when it entered the US in the mid-1990s and 20 years later Kia has positioned it as the sportier and more stylish alternative to its Honda, Toyota and Nissan rivals.
After a week with the 2017 Kia Sportage, here are five things that I either loved or hated about Kia’s smallest crossover:
1. It stands out
Kia’s latest design language has transformed nearly every model in its lineup to stylish standouts that it’s kinda crazy if you look at how far they’ve come in the last ten years. The 2017 Sportage builds on the sportier styling of the last generation, but adds a higher level of sophistication and class. From some angles it looks more expensive than it actually is, although its face may take some getting used to. It also stands out compared to its boxier rivals, like the Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V.
2.Would you like a turbo with that?
The Sportage offers buyers a choice between a 2.4L four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. of torque or a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. On paper the turbocharged engine looks like the engine to get but it comes at a cost. Not only can you only get it on the top spec SX Turbo model that starts at $32,700, but it also takes a big hit to your fuel economy. The base engine gets up to 23/30 mpg, while the front-wheel drive SX Turbo is only rated at 21/26. During my week with the SX Turbo all-wheel drive I only averaged 20 mpg.
Even though the turbocharged engine will include a few more stops at the gas station, it does provide pretty ample power accelerating from a stop or trying to merge on the highway. Luckily it’s also mated to a responsive six-speed automatic transmission and there are three different driving modes to suit your taste.
3. Stylish and comfortable interior
The Sportage’s interior now features upgraded materials, although the interior styling is not nearly as daring as the exterior. Features like heated and cooled seats, the panoramic sunroof and its more comfortable seats make the 2017 Sportage feel more upscale than ever before. There’s 31 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40 split folding rear seat to hold your gear, but if you need more cargo space, the Honda CR-V offers 39 cubic feet, while the Toyota RAV4 comes in at just over 38 cubic feet. Overall the interior is spacious and comfortable, but not as big as the CR-V, but if your friends aren’t all over 6-feet tall and you aren’t a hoarder, the Sportage’s interior will be just right.
4. Pricing undercuts the CR-V, RAV-4 and CX-5
The 2017 Sportage starts at a reasonable $23,300, which is lower than the starting prices for the Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and the Mazda CX-5. Once you start adding on the options, the price does shoot up significantly, but even at $35,095, the top-spec SX Turbo with all-wheel drive is packed with features, like heated and cooled seats, a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel and a Harmon/ Kardon sound system. The SX Turbo’s price mirrors the Honda CR-V, but the one thing that the CR-V offers that the Sportage does not, is the latest driver assist safety technology, like Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.
5. Sportier than Most
The Sportage sits at the sportier end of the crossover segment. It’s not quite as nimble as the Mazda CX-5 or Ford Escape, but it’s small footprint, turbocharged engine and upgraded suspension make it more enjoyable to drive than most models in this segment.
Wrap Up: As its name suggests, the 2017 Kia Sportage is one of the sportier models in the compact crossover segment. It’s not quite as nimble or fun to drive as the Mazda CX-5, but it’s turbocharged engine gives it a bit more “zoom zoom” than the Mazda. It’s interior is smaller than the CR-V, but if you don’t need to haul as much stuff, the Sportage is the more stylish option with its more upscale looking exterior.