2013 Kia Sportage EX 4-dr SUV (2.4L 4-cyl. 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 11/6/2012
This extroverted styling of this small crossover promises more performance than it delivers. The styling cuts into cargo space, the base 4-cylinder is only so-so and the ride is stiff. Still, it handles fairly well, the interior is put together well and a stronger turbo-4 is available.
PerformanceKia makes no bones about the Sportage's intent. Sport is in its name, after all. But in reality it's not an enthusiast machine. Yes, the EX four-cylinder does lean toward the performance side of small crossovers. But just barely.
Not a lot of guts from the little four-cylinder. The more you rev it the better, but it never has a hurry-up mode. The 6-speed automatic upshifts slowly, but very smoothly.
A nice firm and reassuring pedal. There's quite a bit of nosedive on panic stops, but the Sportage stays controlled. We did notice some pedal fade by the fifth panic stop.
The steering is pretty quick, but not unduly so. The feel is relatively intuitive. Better than we expected.
Not quite as "sportage" as its name implies. Lots of understeer and body roll, and the center of gravity feels pretty high. Still, you can have some fun tossing it around corners.
The problem here is super-abrupt throttle response. It's especially annoying when trying to leave stoplights smoothly and in stop-and-go traffic. Passengers don't appreciate it.
The Sportage has a 2,000-pound towing capacity, whether it's the front-drive (tested) or the all-wheel-drive model. This is reasonable for a small crossover SUV.
The Sportage is a typical soft-roader crossover SUV best suited for nothing more than washboard fire roads and snowy conditions.
ComfortThe Sportage isn't an uncomfortable vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. But it also doesn't coddle you with a cushy ride and overly plush seats. Not as quiet as some.
The front seats are nicely shaped and offer pretty decent comfort, although long days in the saddle did produce some numb-butt in one editor.
The ride is on the harsh side for this segment. Even seemingly small pavement irregularities can make themselves known.
Wind noise isn't much above the level of competitors, but a fair amount of road and engine noise are present.
InteriorThe Sportage's interior is sharply styled, more interesting than most competitors. Fit and finish is above average. But the exterior styling compromises rear-seat access somewhat and cuts into cargo space and visibility.
The majority of the Sportage's controls are intuitive, easy to learn and operate. They'll get the job done for most people.
Getting in and out up front is no big deal, but that sloping roof means it's considerably tighter hopping in/out of the rear seat.
There's decent room up front, with both adequate head- and legroom. Things get tighter width-wise in the rear seat, although headroom isn't bad considering the sloping roofline.
The rear window is quite tiny for an SUV, making it difficult to see traffic behind you. Front visibility is good despite thick A-pillars. Very thick rear pillars.
Interior cubby room is pretty good, but not great. Reasonably deep door pockets and good-size center armrest bin. Rear cargo space is on the small side versus competitors.
ValueValue is what Kias are all about, and the Sportage, despite some faults, still scores very well in this category. Industry-topping warranties and reasonable pricing help, along with plenty of standard features.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Yes, there's lots of hard plastic. But there's padding where you need it and the materials and fit and finish are better than most, save the Ford Escape. Reasonable for the price.
Kia is a master at packing in features. Dual-zone climate control, satellite radio, Bluetooth and a cooled glovebox come standard on the EX at its $24,200 base price.
The Sportage EX's $24,200 base price is a good deal, but our test vehicle's optioned-out cost of $29,300 starts to look like a lot of money.
Not quite as efficient as the class leaders. EPA combined lags about 1 mpg behind RAV4 and CR-V. You can get a 6-speed manual if you like, but rated mpg is worse than the automatic.
5 years/60,000-mile basic warranty. 10 years/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. Along with a 5 years/100,000-mile rust warranty. This is a tremendous selling and owning point.
Roadside assistance for 5 years/60,000 miles. But no free maintenance.
Fun To DriveWith a name like Sportage, you expect this to be the most spirited small crossover on the market. It's not, but it is more enthusiastic driver than most. The optional turbo-4 in the SX will help here if you need more.
The Sportage is one of the livelier small crossovers, with tossable handling and a modern interior. A peppier engine would further its cause.
This is a sexily styled SUV, and this flashiness gives it some personality. The quick steering makes it feel sportier than it really is.