The Sportage is the model that put Kia on the map for American consumers back in the mid-'90s, pairing Mazda-sourced mechanicals with appealing trucklet styling that called to mind the contemporaneous Isuzu Trooper. Fun fact: That original Sportage actually rode on a rear-wheel-drive platform, with four-wheel drive offered as an option. The Sportage subsequently switched to car-based, front-wheel-drive underpinnings, but every new model has been better than the last. The fully redesigned 2017 Sportage is no exception, and this latest overhaul took care of at least two of our complaints about the previous generation — the cramped backseat (which is now downright roomy) and the flinty ride (which is newly nice and smooth).
The 2017 Kia Sportage offers a choice of two four-cylinder engines. The base 2.4-liter lump has 181 horsepower, while the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four cranks it up to 240 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard either way. Fuel economy isn't that great, with the 2.4-liter engine topping out at an EPA-estimated 29 mpg on the highway and the turbo-four dropping to 26 mpg highway. That's with front-wheel drive, mind you; those numbers sink if you opt for all-wheel drive. Happily, both engines are smooth and quiet, but as you'd expect, the turbo is more fun.
Even with AWD, the Sportage isn't an ideal off-roader. In Kia's words, it's a vehicle that was "conceived for urban adventures." Still, AWD offers that extra margin of safety and sure-footedness, especially in bad weather. You'll just have to weigh the significance of that fuel-economy trade-off.
Outside, the new Sportage is quite handsome from the back and in profile, although the tall, flat nose and high-mounted headlights may provoke unwelcome flashbacks to the Subaru B9 Tribeca. Inside, the new Sportage receives upgrades with luxury-class undertones, especially at the top of the model range. But materials quality is quite nice even in the base Sportage, and the cabin stays respectably quiet at speed. The optional 7- or 8-inch touchscreen is easy to use and offers full smartphone connectivity.
The 31 cubic feet of storage space in the rear is more than the outgoing model had but is less than some competitors offer. The second-row seatbacks fold down, of course, if you need additional room.
The new Sportage is decidedly a step up from its predecessor, and we think it's nice enough to merit close consideration from fans of other brands. Let Edmunds help you figure out which version of the 2017 Kia Sportage is right for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.