The Sportage, Kia Motors America’s longest-running nameplate, got a redesign for 2017. On a recent test-drive for Latino Traffic Report in Austin, TX, the compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV), specifically the Sportage SX AWD, impressed with its standard and available technology, setting it apart in the segment.
The European-looking Sportage inspires a comparison to other European brands—I found myself referring to it as the “baby (Porsche) Cayenne.” The signature tiger nose grille, however, confirms that it’s a Kia.
Driving along FM 2222, Austin’s curviest road, the Sportage handled the twists and turns solidly, enhanced by the Driver Select Mode set in Sport. Other modes include Normal and Eco. The improved ride and handling comes from a stiffer structure, new suspension, and advanced driver assistance systems. Included on the test model, the available intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD) can be added to every trim ($1500) and features a 50/50 locking center differential.
Offered in three trim levels (LX, EX, and SX Turbo), the Sportage can be powered by a choice of two four-cylinder engines—a 2.4-liter engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 lb.–ft. of torque or a 2.0-liter inline-four turbo with 240 horsepower (237 on AWD models) and 260 lb.–ft. of torque, that powered the test model. Both engines have been retuned for better fuel efficiency and are matched to an updated six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.0-liter turbo should get an estimated city/highway fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. I averaged 24.7 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Longer by 1.6 inches, the new Sportage has a roomier interior with seating for five. It’s also available with additional appointments for a more luxurious cabin and a range of technologies including UVO eServices and telematics, AppleCar Play, and Android Auto matched to a seven- or an eight-inch touchscreen.
Thanks to an innovative dual-level cargo floor and a widened luggage area, cargo capacity behind the second row has grown from 26.1 cu.-ft. to 30.7 cu.-ft. The 60/40-split second row also folds flat and reclines for added convenience.
The SX test model included leather seating with ventilated and heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, Harmon Kardon audio with Clari-Fi (rare features for this trim level), dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a panoramic sunroof with an opening that is 4.1 inches longer than the outgoing model’s.
The top-of-the-line SX also included the latest safety technology, like a blind spot monitor, front and rear parking assist, and rear cross traffic alert. While these features are not available on the base model, LX, they can be added to the mid-range EX.
The base model includes a rearview camera, air conditioning, a five-inch color touchscreen AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM (three-month subscription) audio system, Bluetooth, hands-free phone operation and streaming audio, and USB auxiliary input jacks.
Convenience features like cargo net hooks, remote keyless entry, and steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls are also standard. The SX added a smart power tailgate that opened automatically when it sensed the key fob.
Pricing for the 2017 Kia Sportage starts at $24,095. The as-tested pricing for the SX AWD came to $34,895.
Sí: The Sportage offers added value with features you wouldn’t find in this segment.
No: Fuel economy is fairly unimpressive, especially for a turbo-charged compact CUV.