The Kia Sportage has never been one for small evolutionary changes. Originally a cheap, poorly made penalty box followed by a solid, yet utterly forgettable bargain-price SUV, today's Sportage is now a stylish and well-rounded compact crossover SUV. In human terms, the Kia Sportage has gone from a baboon to a Neanderthal and then George Clooney in the span of 15 years.
While the second-generation Sportage might be a cost-effective but rather uninspired used car choice, the current version stands out from the crowd in more ways than just looks. Thanks to its excellent build quality, stronger performance and generous array of features, it's far and away the most appealing Sportage yet. This third-generation Kia model remains on the small side among compact crossovers, however, and as such is a better choice for singles or those with small families.
Current Kia Sportage
The Kia Sportage is available in LX, EX and SX trim levels. The LX and EX have a 2.4-liter making 182 horsepower, while the SX gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making an impressive 260 hp. All Sportages come with a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive offered as an option.
Standard equipment for the Sportage LX includes alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a sound system with satellite radio, a CD player and an iPod/USB audio interface. Stepping up to the upper trims gets you bigger wheels, LED running lights, keyless entry, a telescoping wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated seats, leather upholstery, a rearview camera, a navigation system and Kia's Uvo voice activation system. Optional features include power-folding sideview mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and keyless ignition and entry.
The Sportage's interior features attractive styling. And though there is quite a bit of hard plastic, it's well-textured and build quality is good. Passengers and driver alike benefit from well-contoured seats and adequate head- and legroom. The rear seat comfortably accommodates two average-size adults, and the seatback reclines but doesn't slide. In terms of cargo capacity, the Sportage comes up a bit short in cargo space, too, offering a maximum of 26.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.6 cubes with the 60/40-split-folding seats laid flat. Bigger competitors boast as many as 73 cubes.
On the road, the Kia Sportage lives up to its name with its sharp steering and athletic handling that make it more engaging than most other compact crossovers. The downside is that taut suspension tuning means a bit of a stiff-legged ride over rough pavement and washboard highways. Power from the four-cylinder engine is simply adequate, but at least the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. The SX's engine delivers a healthy dose of acceleration and is a worthy alternative to the V6s and four-cylinder turbos found in competing crossovers.
Read the most recent 2015 Kia Sportage review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Kia Sportage page.