2018 Kia Sportage

2018 Kia Sportage Review

The 2018 Kia Sportage is a small SUV that appeals to your heart and head.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by James Riswick
Edmunds Editor

The Kia Sportage has typically been an "alternative" choice for a compact crossover SUV. Prior versions weren't as well-rounded as other, more popular crossovers, but a lower price, plentiful standard features and lengthy warranty helped get people into the driver's seat. Well, those value-oriented attributes are still present, but the 2018 Kia Sportage, coming off last year's full redesign, is improved to the point that it deserves to be among those SUVs you consider first rather than the one you settle on after looking at the price tag.

For starters, it's a more refined and comfortable vehicle than previous versions. Its ride quality is impressively comfortable, even with bigger wheels, and its cabin stays nice and quiet on the highway. Interior quality is also better than most, and it looks good, too. Other advantages include a big back seat and large doors that make it easy to get in and out.

If you are looking for lots of utility, the Sportage probably isn't the right choice. You get 30.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seatbacks, which trails class leaders by about 4 to 6 cubic feet, while folding down those seatbacks opens up a similarly modest 60.1 cubic feet. The Sportage's fuel economy is also disappointing compared to rival SUVs.

Still, you don't need to spend a lot of money to get an appealing Sportage. Even the base trim level is well equipped, and unlike some rivals, you don't have to step up to an upper trim to get desirable things such as advanced safety tech and Apple or Android smartphone control. So, yes, the Sportage is just as much of a value-packed alternative as always, but it's also good enough now to be in the big leagues. 



what's new

For 2018, the base LX gets new stain-resistant cloth upholstery and a greater variety of optional equipment. The EX trim gains standard equipment, including blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert systems. There's also a new EX Sport Appearance package and the SX Turbo includes an electronic parking brake.

we recommend

Going with the 2018 Kia Sportage LX will get you a respectable number of features for an affordable price. Also consider getting the Popular and Technology packages, which add some useful and desirable extras, including an upgraded touchscreen interface and accident avoidance tech.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Kia Sportage is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in LX, EX and SX Turbo trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard on all of them, but all-wheel drive is an option. The LX and EX have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. The SX Turbo has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 hp (237 hp with all-wheel drive) and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Standard equipment on the LX includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, driver-selectable driving modes, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat, a rearview camera, a 5-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player and one USB port. The LX's Popular package adds roof rails, UV-reducing glass for the front windows and windshield, a windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar), heated front seats, and Kia's 7-inch Uvo touchscreen interface that includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Kia's eServices remote and emergency services.

The EX includes all of the above items plus 18-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, upgraded exterior and interior trim, keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, leather upholstery and a rear USB charging port. The EX's Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Sport Appearance package adds LED foglights, special exterior trim and a flat-bottom steering wheel. It is not available with the Premium or Technology (see below) packages.

The LX Technology package adds forward collision warning and automatic braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam control and power-folding mirrors. The EX Technology package adds those items plus a hands-free liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, a spare tire, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. This package includes heated rear seats with all-wheel-drive Sportages.

The SX gets a more powerful engine plus a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED foglights, an electronic parking brake, special exterior trim, the flat-bottom steering wheel, a larger gauge display, and the contents of the EX Technology and Premium packages.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Kia Sportage EX (2.4L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration3.0 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling3.5 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The base 2.4-liter engine yields adequate but unremarkable acceleration. The pricier SX's turbo engine is punchier, though not to the degree promised by its higher than average horsepower output. True to the Sportage name, handling is a strong point as is braking. A solid performer overall.

acceleration

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The EX feels sprightly at first, but its energy wanes at higher speeds. Zero to 60 mph takes 8.8 seconds, which is average for the class. The turbo SX has more punch, but it lacks the emphatic passing power we expect from an optional engine.

braking

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You get predictable and consistent pedal responses in normal driving. In our emergency braking test, the EX stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet, a short distance for this segment.

steering

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The Sportage responds quickly to inputs, and the effort required to turn the wheel is appropriate for a vehicle in this class. It tracks confidently on the highway, and the steering wheel itself feels thoughtfully designed and sporty.

handling

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Kia's goal is to add a splash of driving excitement to all of its vehicles, and that's roughly what the Sportage delivers. Although the Mazda CX-5 is even better in this respect, the Sportage does feel composed and nimble around corners.

drivability

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We like the six-speed automatic transmission. It shifts smoothly and predictably, although the lack of torque in the EX requires more downshifting compared to the more powerful SX.

comfort

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This is an area where the Sportage excels. The ride is compliant on rough pavement, and the seats provide firm, long-lasting support. Wind noise and road noise are remarkably well-suppressed, further distinguishing this Kia from many similarly priced crossovers.

seat comfort

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The Sportage's seats are firm yet welcoming, with an agreeable shape for long journeys and a position that delivers a commanding view. Power adjustments for the driver are standard on EX, while a power passenger seat is optional, as are cooled front seats.

ride comfort

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Ride comfort is class-competitive, even with the larger 18-inch wheels and tires.

noise & vibration

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The lack of typical road and wind noise is apparent in the Sportage's cabin. On concrete freeways, the outside world seems unusually far away. It gives the Sportage an upscale character at speed, a rare thing in this price range.

interior

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The Sportage's well-appointed interior is above average by segment standards. The front cabin features a sporty dashboard with intuitive controls, and the rear has an unexpected abundance of legroom for a small crossover. The compromise is limited cargo capacity.

ease of use

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Kia's touchscreens (there are multiple sizes) feature sharp graphics and quick responses. Major controls are clearly labeled and easy to use. The center stack tilts toward the driver, putting more controls within close reach.

getting in/getting out

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The tall front doors open wide for easy entry. The rear doors are enormous, facilitating entry and exit. There's no issue with head clearance despite low rear roofline. Feet slide easily underneath the front seats.

roominess

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No shortage of head- or legroom up front. Surprisingly, the same is true in back — two 6-footers fit without issue. The back seat is remarkably roomy for a compact crossover, and the seat itself is mounted high for good thigh support.

visibility

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The side windows are large enough to keep track of nearby traffic, and the sizable side-view mirrors also help. The standard rearview camera can be paired with parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

quality

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Materials quality has improved in the latest Sportage and now ranks among the segment's best thanks to low-gloss plastics and soft-touch surfaces. We noted no squeaks or rattles, though the driver's foot rest came loose in daily use.

utility

The Sportage falls short in terms of overall utility due to a cabin that puts its priority on passenger space rather than cargo space. The cargo area is pretty small. But small-item storage is good, and towing capacity is a bit better than that of class best-sellers.

small-item storage

There are plenty of storage bins, including deep door pockets and a variety of center-console spaces. The cupholders are big and useful. The Sportage offers good utility without looking utilitarian.

cargo space

This is an SUV that puts its emphasis on space for passengers rather than for their stuff. The cargo area is still fairly useful, but there's significantly less cargo capacity in the Sportage compared to other compact SUVs.

technology

Kia's touchscreen interfaces are refreshingly easy to use, with the larger two featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All trim levels can be equipped with accident avoidance tech.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.