Full 2014 Kia Sportage Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Kia Sportage receives an updated 2.4-liter engine. Now with direct injection, it's more powerful and efficient than before. Other changes include refreshed exterior styling, the addition of high-performance suspension tuning to all trim levels (previously, it was only on the SX) and various feature upgrades, including available xenon headlights, updated navigation and touchscreen systems, a new premium sound system, a ventilated front passenger seat, rear-seat air vents and updated Uvo telematics services. The Sportage's previous base trim level and its available manual transmission have been dropped from the lineup.
Almost every carmaker has at least one small crossover SUV in its showroom, so what makes the 2014 Kia Sportage worth a look? Well, to name three attributes, we'd say head-turning looks, strong performance and plenty of desirable standard features and options.
With its sharply styled front end and muscular fenders, the Sportage certainly stands out from the pack. Those looks are backed up with what's under the hood, too. Here you'll find a new base 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's pretty powerful for a small crossover SUV. The sportier turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder on the SX trim level raises things to another level, however. With 260 hp, the turbo Sportage can scoot to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. Value is another big draw for this Kia, as even when equipped with top-end features such as navigation and ventilated front seats, it's typically less expensive than many other fully loaded models.
There are really only a couple downsides to the Sportage. The main one is interior space; the Sportage just isn't as big as some competitors, and as a result, it comes up short on passenger and cargo room. If you've got a family and are frequently hauling kids and cargo, the Sportage probably isn't ideal. Also, while this Kia is pretty fun to drive, some shoppers may find its ride too firm for their liking and, with either engine, fuel economy is lackluster for a small crossover SUV.
As such, crossover shoppers focused on practicality might want to compare the Sportage to roomier rivals, including the 2014 Honda CR-V, 2014 Subaru Forester and 2014 Toyota RAV4. Those looking for a similarly sprightly driving experience will want to check out the 2014 Ford Escape, 2014 Mazda CX-5 or, if you're open to going smaller, the Mini Countryman. Overall, though, the 2014 Kia Sportage is a solid contender in this group thanks to its fun nature and value for the dollar.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Kia Sportage is a small crossover SUV with seating for five. There are three trim levels: LX, EX and SX.
Standard features on the LX include 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40 split-folding and reclining rear seats, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Optional for the LX is the Popular Equipment package that adds roof rails, a rear spoiler, automatic headlights, a trip computer, a second-row armrest, a rear camera display, rear parking sensors and Kia's Uvo voice control and telematics system.
The Sportage EX includes the features in the Popular Equipment package along with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated sideview mirrors, automatic headlights, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a cooled glovebox, a six-way power driver seat, upgraded cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded Infinity sound system with HD radio.
Adding the EX Premium package nets you power-folding sideview mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and keyless ignition/entry.
The SX model is equipped much like the EX, but adds a turbocharged engine, xenon headlights and LED taillights. The SX Premium package mirrors the EX Premium, but does not include the panorama roof, which is a separate option.
Powertrains and Performance
Power for the 2014 Kia Sportage comes from one of two four-cylinder engines. The LX and EX models come with a 2.4-liter that produces 182 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque. The SX model gets a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that cranks out an impressive 260 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. All versions of the Sportage come with a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive offered as an option. In Edmunds testing, a front-drive SX sprinted from zero to 60 mph in a quick 6.5 seconds.
For the front-drive LX and EX, EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). Picking all-wheel drive drops this down to 22 mpg combined (19/26). The turbocharged SX earns an EPA estimated 23 mpg combined (20/26) with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg combined (19/24) with AWD. Top competitors in this class typically best the Sportage's combined fuel economy by 2-3 mpg.
Standard safety features on all 2014 Kia Sportage models include antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
The latest version of Uvo, which is optional on the LX and standard on everything else, includes emergency and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, geo-fencing and speed tracking (allowing parents to set limits for teen drivers) and other smartphone-based features via the Uvo mobile app.
In Edmunds brake testing, an EX came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet -- a couple feet shorter than the average for this type of vehicle. The sport-oriented SX was even better at 117 feet.
In government crash tests, the all-wheel-drive Sportage received an overall top rating of five stars, with five stars for total frontal-impact crash protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The front-drive Sportage has a four-star overall rating, but still with five stars each in the front and side categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Sportage received the highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. Its head restraints and seats also earned a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts. In the IIHS' small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the Sportage received the lowest score of "Poor."
Interior Design and Special Features
Just as the 2014 Kia Sportage's aggressive exterior styling helps it stand out in a crowd, its handsome cabin gives it an edge over several better-known, but more conservatively styled competitors. There's no shortage of hard plastic in here, but it's nicely textured and there's a good amount of padding where it's needed. Overall, the controls are logically laid out, and the Uvo voice command system and the optional 7-inch touchscreen that comes with the navigation system are easy to use.
The Sportage's front seats are comfortable and supportive, with decent head- and legroom. The rear seat, however, is smaller than the norm, and although it features reclining 60/40-split seatbacks, the bench still doesn't slide fore and aft, which would be handy here for freeing up extra passenger or cargo space.
We say that because, with just 26.1 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats up and 54.6 with both sections folded down, the Kia has roughly 15 fewer cubic feet of space than most rivals. An under-the-cargo-floor storage cubby with a divided cargo organizer gives you some options for stashing small items, however.
The 2014 Kia Sportage isn't a sports car disguised in an SUV wrapper, but it is more fun to drive than most small crossovers. It feels secure and nimble around turns, a benefit of its firmly tuned suspension. Unfortunately, the trade-off here is comfort, and some shoppers are likely to find the ride quality too firm.
We have yet to test a 2014 Sportage with the newly updated 2.4-liter engine, but once we have, we'll update this review. Meanwhile, the Kia Sportage SX's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine delivers a healthy dose of acceleration and is a worthy alternative to the V6s and turbo four-cylinders found in competing crossovers.