2012 Kia Sportage SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Kia Sportage SUV

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Kia Sportage Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 260 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Kia Sportage

  • Thanks to a fun-to-drive nature, the 2012 Kia Sportage is a realistic alternative to other top small crossover SUVs on the market.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Sharp styling inside and out; more fun to drive than other crossovers; powerful and efficient turbo engine in SX trim; plenty of premium features; intuitive controls.

  • Cons

    Stiff-legged ride; backseat doesn't slide or recline; less cargo capacity than other crossovers.

  • What's New for 2012

    For 2012, every Kia Sportage gets revised suspension tuning for improved handing. Kia has also added more sound insulation to reduce noise. LX models get standard 17-inch alloy wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires. EX and SX models now come standard with Kia's Uvo hands-free interface for cell phones and portable music players.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (5 total reviews)

Fix the defrosters

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sportage SX 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Submitted review back on 08/27/12 12:30 PM which I still stick by. As for the turbo issue I was having it got fixed, pressure switch needed calibrated for the hot gas bypass, I've not had any issues since. Got 56,000 on the car now. At this car's price point, you won't find another SUV with this kind of power and gas mileage.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Lemon, and kia blames me?

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sportage SX 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I bought this as an upgrade to my 2011 Sportage LX. The LX's 2.4L engine wasn't quite up to the task of pulling my 1,155lb camper. It would struggle up hills while the A/C was running. I figured I would get the 260hp turbo one, and alleviate that issue. Well, I was VERY wrong. @3,00 miles - detonation sounds in engine. Dealer told me it was normal @5,500 miles - Total spark plug destruction while towing 1,700lb trailer @6,500 miles - Again, spark plug failure, and hole in cylinder #3 while towing 1,155lb trailer. Kia blames overloading, yet the car has a 2,000lb towing capacity. Had to file lawsuit, which is currently pending Kia's response.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

20,000 miles and going

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sportage SX 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Have a 2012 SX, it's quick, but seats and handling have much room for improvement. I think the stock 18 inch tires have too high a side wall, tires bounce like a basket ball. Car now has 20K miles, the turbo is cutting in and out, usually upon motor start it sometimes doesn't work, and when restarted thereafter it works again. Shop (Robin w/Transitowne KIA in Buffalo NY Area) looked it over, says it's b/c I had it in FWD lock, which makes no sense. Since I've kept is out of FWD lock, still acting up. When the restart trick stops working I'll take it back in.

Kia sportage kx-3 satnav auto

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sportage SX 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

July 2012 .. I have just returned a Kia Sportage KX-3 SatNav automatic awd 2 litre diesel after not being able to get more than 30mpg with it , driving it at 70mph and 2000 revs on a more less flat smooth road . Kia advertise 47.9 mpg extra urban with the car I had with the 18 inch wheels , obviously this figure would be at 60 mph , even at that speed I still only got a fraction over 30 mpg . With this I phoned Kia customer service and spoke to someone who said his name was J V or J G , after explaining everything , I have never had such a not interested attitude in my life after buying a £25000 vehicle . After saying , I would like to get an honest opinion please on a very poor fuel consumption that I am getting with the Kia Sportage that I have just paid £24,995 for and certainly not happy with the fuel consumption . All I got at the end was take it back to the Kia dealer ...I did that and got just the same not interested attitude , we are too busy to look at it , it will be 6 weeks before we can look at it , then send a technical report to Kia , then we maybe get the response back from them in a couple of weeks or so . With that , I had , had enough and quoted sale of goods act 1979 , that it does not do what you advertise and I want my car back that I traded in . Whether I got my car back because they had not sold it or because I quoted the sale of goods act or they were going to get more profit out of me , I don’t know which , but I was glad to get rid of that diesel guzzler . I certainly will not be buying anything with a Kia name on it again as there after sales customer interest is zero .

79 of 98 people found this review helpful

Sx.. you won't regret it.

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Sportage SX 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I waited months for the 2012 model to come out because I didn't qualify for any of the rebates that the 2011 model was offering. Ended up buying a 2012 mineral gray AWD SX for $29,900 (not including taxes). The MSRP was 31,800. So they came down about $2000 off the MSRP. The oddest part of the day was when the east coast earthquake struck while I was signing for the car. I looked up to the sales guy and said "that's probably not a good sign". LOL. The car's been great so far... my only gripe is the reflection off the window. The front window is at such an angle that you always see the reflection of the dash on sunny days. Super annoying. Other than that, it's an awesome car.

Gas Mileage


  • 20
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  • 25
  • highway
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Full 2012 Kia Sportage Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, every Kia Sportage gets revised suspension tuning for improved handing. Kia has also added more sound insulation to reduce noise. LX models get standard 17-inch alloy wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires. EX and SX models now come standard with Kia's Uvo hands-free interface for cell phones and portable music players.


Just like people, vehicles have personalities ranging from bland and boring to stylish and entertaining. If you accept that premise, it's safe to say the 2012 Kia Sportage comes down on the "cool kid" end of the continuum.

Part of the appeal of this small crossover SUV is simply that it's such a dramatic departure from earlier versions, all of which were largely forgettable. This time around, the third-generation Sportage offers a near-ideal balance of style and substance, with an eye-catching look and a lively driving character that many of its competitors can't match.

Truth be told, the Sportage's 176-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine is merely adequate. But this is outweighed by firm suspension tuning that makes for nimble handling. If that's not enough, though, the 260-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the SX model -- not to mention its sport-tuned suspension -- makes the Sportage one of the quickest models in its segment.

Every personality has its character flaws, though. In this case, it's a ride quality that might be too harsh for some people's tastes -- especially in SX form. The interior's relative lack of cargo and passenger room compared to competitors like the Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 may also be an issue for many buyers. Kia's own Sorento is also worth considering for those with a need for greater space.

If you don't have such a need, the 2012 Kia Sportage is a strong choice compared to SUVs with similar interior volume like the Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-7 and Volkswagen Tiguan. While all have their strong points, the 2012 Kia Sportage has a unique personality that may very well just win you over.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Kia Sportage is a compact crossover SUV with seating for five. There are now a total of four trim levels available, including Base, LX, EX and SX.

Standard features on the base model include 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, full power accessories, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

Stepping up to the Sportage LX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, turn signals integrated into the exterior mirrors, tinted rear windows and keyless entry. The Convenience package adds rear parking sensors, a rear spoiler, roof rails, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and floor mats.

The Sportage EX includes the Convenience package along with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, upgraded cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an easier-folding rear seat, a rearview camera, the Uvo voice-activated cell phone and audio interface, and an upgraded sound system with HD radio, digital music storage and a small touchscreen interface. The EX Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, the SX's upgraded gauges, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a cooled driver seat and an auto-dimming mirror.

The SX model adds to the EX's standard equipment a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, upgraded gauges, leather upholstery and distinctive exterior and interior styling details. The SX Premium package is similar to the EX version.

A navigation system with a touchscreen interface and real-time traffic is optional on all but the base Sportage. On the LX, the nav system includes an upgraded audio system.

Powertrains and Performance

Most versions of the 2012 Kia Sportage are powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4-cylinder engine that produces 176 hp and 168 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered on base models, while all other versions come with a six-speed automatic with manual shift feature.

Front-wheel drive is standard on all Sportage models and all-wheel drive is offered as an option on all but the base model. In Edmunds performance tests, a front-wheel-drive Sportage with the 2.4-liter engine and automatic accelerated to 60 mph from a standstill in 9.5 seconds, an average time for this class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the automatic and front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive drops those to 20/27/23.

The SX model gets a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out an impressive 260 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in a very quick 6.5 seconds. EPA estimated fuel economy is 21/28/24 with front-wheel drive and 20/25/22 with AWD, although we've found the Sportage SX struggles to match these numbers in real-world driving.


Standard safety features on all 2012 Kia Sportage models include front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, active front head restraints, antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, as well as hill descent and hill start control.

In Edmunds brake testing, an EX came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet -- a solid performance for this type of vehicle. The sport-oriented SX was better at 117 feet. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Sportage received the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Kia Sportage's interior features a pleasing mix of complex and organic shapes to create a more interesting look than most competitors manage. There is quite a bit of hard plastic throughout the cabin, but for the most part, it's well textured and adequately padded where passengers generally make contact.

The front seats are nicely contoured and offer good comfort, with adequate headroom and legroom. The 60/40-split rear seat is set up for three passengers, but it's tight enough that it's just passable for a couple of adults. The fact that this seat lacks the ability to recline and slide fore and aft as they do in many competitors is a weak point.

The interior's other major shortcoming is its relative lack of cargo space compared to some other small crossover SUVs. Behind the rear seats are just 26.1 cubic feet of space, which grows to 54.6 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks laid flat. To put that last number in perspective, that makes it about 15 cubic feet smaller than the cargo holds of both the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Driving Impressions

While the 2012 Kia Sportage is by no means a tall four-door sports car, it's still relatively fun to drive. The 2.4-liter engine gives it enough get-up-and-go to be interesting and the six-speed automatic transmission works well in both fully automatic and manual shift modes. The turbocharged engine is energetic, though its impressive fuel economy numbers are predicated on your being conservative with the throttle.

Handling is better than average thanks to the Sportage's stiffer suspension. The downside is a firm ride quality that, when coupled with the available 18-inch alloy wheels, transmits even small pavement irregularities directly to your backside.

Talk About The 2012 Sportage