By on March 8, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

In case you didn’t know it, Kia’s on a roll. Sales have more than doubled since 2009, propelling Kia from a Mazda-sized player in the American market to one that outsold established brands like Subaru, GMC, Chrysler and Volkswagen.

Kia’s transformation may seem like a night-and-day makeover, but closer inspection reveals that it’s really the result of consistent incremental improvements to its products, frequent designs and refreshes, and astute pricing.

You can think of the Sportage as the final piece of Kia’s evolving puzzle. Sales may be on a roll for the Korean automaker, but the Sportage has never sold in large numbers. It finished 14th in a segment of 17 models last year. (The Sportage beat the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Chevrolet Captiva Sport). It could be that the Kia Sorento did a better job of nipping at the heels of mid-trim Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V models. For 2017, Kia gives us a new Sportage targeted more at Mazda and Ford than Toyota.

Exterior

While luxury brands usually defer to the “one sausage, different lengths” school of design, Kia opts to put the same nose on vehicles with slightly different themes. Therefore, instead of an 8/10ths Sorento, the Sportage looks more like the love child of a Sorento and Porsche Macan up front, and there’s a hint of Ford Escape out back.

Continuing the Porsche homage, the Sportage has a distinctly wide look from some angles, and it’s not an optical illusion. The 2017 Sportage is the widest in the segment despite also being one of the shortest in length. It also sports a wheelbase that’s half an inch longer than the RAV4 and two full inches longer than the CR-V, giving the Sportage a “wheels to the corners” look.

The compact exterior is further highlighted by the blunt front end and rear bumper, which barely extends beyond the rear hatch. The result is a crossover with boxier proportions than more minivan-esque entries, such as the CR-V.

2017 Kia Sportage Interior Full Dash, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Interior

Although the Sportage is more compact on the outside than the bulk of the segment, the long wheelbase and efficient packaging yield one of the roomier interiors. With 79.7 inches of combined legroom, the Kia lands in the middle of the pack, and the extra cabin width is noticeable when fitting three folks across the rear bench. Sadly, Doctor Who was not called upon to design the interior, so the compact exterior dimensions take their toll on the cargo hold where you’ll find just 30 cubic feet of space — about 20-percent less than Toyota offers in the RAV4.

Although the basics of the Sportage are shared with the Hyundai Tucson, Kia’s changes are notable. Although power seats, power lumbar and leather upholstery are far from unique in this segment, the Tucson has one of the steeper entry prices for these features and the Sportage has the lowest. Base LX ($23,885 after destination) models get manually adjustable seats, but an $1,100 option on the LX upgrades the seat fabric, adds heat, and gives the driver’s seat 10-way power adjustment with 2-way power lumbar. The $26,395 EX model gets you leather seats for $3,000 less than the Honda CR-V.

2017 Kia Sportage Interior Infotainment, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Infotainment

Infotainment is becoming increasingly important to the average crossover shopper and Kia isn’t letting grass grow under its feet. Base LX models get a 5-inch touchscreen entertainment system with Bluetooth streaming, iPod interface and XM satellite radio.

Optional on LX and standard on EX, a 7-inch touchscreen system features the latest UVO software. The new model includes standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 8 GB of music storage, and Kia’s latest telematics software package.

Optional on EX and standard on SX is an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen (the same kind of screen tech you find on modern tablet computers) that uses the same software as the smaller screen. Bundled with the snazzier LCD is a 310W eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, power tailgate, ventilated front seats and Kia’s active safety package. This option is the only way to get autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors and a compact spare tire instead of a can of fix-a-flat.

2017 Kia Sportage 2.0L Turbo Engine, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Drivetrain

As before, there are two engines under the hood. Things start with a 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine good for 181 horsepower and 175 pounds-feet of torque. The base engine compares favorably with the meat of the segment. If you need more power, Kia is one of the few brands to offer a 2.0-liter turbo.

The new 2.0-liter turbo actually makes less power than last year’s engine because Kia re-tuned the engine for more low-end torque. For 2017, the new turbo makes 240 hp and 260 lbs-ft of torque, a drop of 20 horsepower and 9 pounds-feet versus last year, although the torque comes to a boil 400 rpm earlier. Either engine can be equipped with a predictive all-wheel-drive system for $1,500.

2017 Kia Sportage Exterior Wheel, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Drive

Kia’s predictive AWD system is something of a unicorn in the segment. According to Magna, the maker of the all-wheel-drive coupling, Kia overdrives the rear axle slightly, just as Acura does in its SH-AWD system, in order to give the Sportage an effective (very) slight rear-power bias.

The slick solution is an interesting twist for Kia in a segment where all-wheel-drive capability seems to be less important than ever. The CR-V’s system is designed to disengage when things get rough, Subaru has ditched its true center differential in favor of a clutch pack and a strong front-wheel bias. Even the Cherokee’s capable AWD prefers to let wheel slip occur before sending power to the rear for the sake of efficiency. Even on the sandy desert roads in Southern California, the Sportage was more likely to spin all four wheels from a stop than just the front rubber.

2017 Kia Sportage Exterior Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

2017 brings an unexpectedly large 333 pound weight gain on top-end trims. Reading between the lines in the presentation, the gain comes mainly from the optional features you find on the SX since the “body in white” is actually a hair lighter than before. Now weighing 3,997 pounds fully-loaded, the Sportage is over 400 pounds heavier than a Mazda CX-5. On the bright side, the added weight had brought added refinement. On broken pavement, freeway expansion joints, and mild off-roading, the Sportage feels more like a Volvo XC60 than a CX-5, while handling sits only a hair behind a Tiguan R-Line.

The Tiguan comparison is especially apt. With 245/40R19 tires on the SX trim, the Kia likely out handles the CX-5 when it comes to lateral Gs (we didn’t have access to our usual test facilities). But, like the Tiguan, “feel” is where Mazda wins. The CX-5 feels like a Mazda3 on stilts with more feedback and sharper overall road feel. The Kia’s steering is accurate and well weighted, but there’s little feedback from the front tires like most cars with electric power steering.

2017 Kia Sportage Interior Instrument Panel

Like the Tiguan, the Sportage excels when it comes to handling, but acceleration is somewhat muted. Because Kia has added weight and subtracted power, our tester did a preliminary 0-60 sprint in 7.5 seconds, notably below the 6.1 we clocked in the 2012 Sportage SX we last tested. That likely puts the Sportage on even footing with the Ford Explorer 2.0-liter Ecoboost and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but behind the Subaru Forester XT.

Respectable performance, a quiet cabin, sporty handling and an engaging AWD system come at a price, but that price isn’t at the dealer — it’s at the pump. Mazda’s CX-5 in its least efficient 2.5-liter AWD form delivers 24/30/26 mpg (city/highway/combined), which is a hair higher than the most efficient front-wheel-drive trim of the Sportage at 23/30/26. The AWD Sportage we spent most of the day in was rated at 20/23/21, but spirited driving kept our average from breaking 19.5 mpg. Adding AWD cuts fuel economy by up to 15 percent depending on your engine choice, likely because Kia’s system is so eager to send power to the rear.

2017 Kia Sportage Exterior Side, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Despite the changes, the Sportage and Sorento still have a large overlap in pricing. As a result, the savvy shopper looking for more bang for the buck is likely to gravitate toward the larger two-row crossover. That said, Kia has managed to differentiate the Sportage more than they have in the past with improved driving dynamics and a well-chosen price tag.

That price tag is Kia’s real win. The 2017 Sportage is the least expensive compact crossover with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and leather — three features that are on my must-have list. The bundling of options is my biggest complaint with the related Hyundai Tucson. On the Hyundai, you have to jump to the $30,000 Limited trim in order to get popular features like leather, dual-zone climate, advanced smartphone integration or navigation.

2017 Kia Sportage Exterior Rear, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Thanks to the improved dynamics, excellent performance and comfortable interior, the Sportage ties with the Mazda CX-5 for my second favorite entry in this segment. The CX-5 feels light and nimble, but the Sportage feels more luxurious, and the turbo engine and wide tires will get you around the mountain twisties faster. The Mazda is more attractive, but the Kia is more comfortable.

Despite the Sportage snagging a place on my personal top pick list, I suspect the Sportage is destined to remain a niche player. While I’m willing to overlook the mediocre fuel economy in trade for improved dynamics, many shoppers are not. Finally, there’s that Sorento again. A Sportage SX AWD rings in at $34,895 and you’ll find it on the same dealer lot as the $33,795 Sorento EX. The Sorento will give you six inches more combined legroom, 33-percent more cargo capacity, and a more handsome front end for nearly the same price while delivering almost identical fuel economy and performance. Sure, the Sportage is more fun, but Kia’s big-boy crossover is a better deal.

Kia provided the vehicle at a launch event in San Diego. Kia also provided meals, lodging and transportation. 

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109 Comments on “2017 Kia Sportage First Drive – The RDX Alternative...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    From the front:

    Why is that angry bunny screaming at me?

    • 0 avatar

      Hahaha, that bunny is pissed!

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      chubbybunnychubbybunnychubbybunny

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Good Trolling Title, Alex:

      Kia Sportage = Acura RDX Alternative

      • 0 avatar
        Mercury Mark 75

        RDX? where did that come from?

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Yeah, they title does not match the content.

          People shopping for Acuras are looking for a near luxury brand – like Honda, only more upscale. They won’t be X-shopping Kia.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s not my call (obviously), but if I were EIC of TTAC, I’d suggest that if Alex is going to reference a Kia Sportage as an Acura RDX “alternative ” in the title, and then fails to even touch on this comparison in the body of the article, there is disingenuousness.

            Also, as I’ve often and consistently maintained, Alex grades vehicles on the easiest curve of any auto reviewer – anywhere.

            But why does he do so? Is he afraid of being denied manufacturer supplied vehicles to review if he doesn’t gush over nearly ever vehicle he reviews?

            IT’S A FAIR QUESTION.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        I don’t see why Alex stating so is that much of a reach.

        It’s not like the RDX is the epitome of luxury with regard to its interior (combine the Tucson’s sheetmetal and the Sportage SX-L’s interior and I’d that over an RDX, NX or MKC).

        There have been numerous reviews which have stated that the Sorento SX-L is a less expensive alternative to something like the XC90 or MDX.

        • 0 avatar
          sfvarholy

          Driven a couple loaner MDX’s. My impression was Honda slapped together pieces parts to make an US-market “luxury” SUV. Driving experience was ho-hum, interior was ho-hum.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The conversation centers around RDX, not MDX.

            And the Kia Sportage dash & interior is just frumpy looking, which apparently gives Alex raging honest from a stylistic standpoint.

    • 0 avatar
      Mercury Mark 75

      I picture more of a frog than a bunny.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So then, it is safe to assume that Kia has not gone the CVT route?

    2016 Sportages offer a 6 speed manual and a 6 speed auto. Will those options remain for the 2017?

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    $35k? I paid $38.Xk for my wife’s loaded 2015 AWD RDX Tech. Notably, it A) has a V6 (HUGE selling point for me) and B) isn’t Korean (ditto).

    No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I doubt it will actually transact for anywhere near $35K.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I take trucar as a fairly decent representative of ATPs, and in this case you can get the 2.4 EX with AWD for roughly 24.5k. For feature content, you’re not getting into heated seats and leather any cheaper than that, and doing it in a CR-V, Rav-4, or CX-5 will cost you at least $3-4k extra.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      In Mr. Dyke’s headline, he said it was the RDX alternative.

      He never compared it with the RDX in any way.

      Maybe because it can’t be?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      That’s how Alex rolls and it really p!sses me off, to be completely honest.

      He has the balls to intimate this pile of Korean Krap can remotely touch an Acura RDX in the title, then never discusses any comparisons or references the RDX while splooging love juice all over yet another Kia that he has fallen head-over-heels-in-lust for.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Same kind of thing about the sales figures: “Sales have more than doubled since 2009, propelling Kia from a Mazda-sized player in the American market to one that outsold established brands like Subaru, GMC, Chrysler and Volkswagen.”

        Kia always outsold Subaru, but not likely for long. Round numbers:

        2009 Kia 300,000 Subaru 216,000
        2015 Kia 625,000 Subaru 582,000

        The rah rah quoted sentence implies Kia flew past Subaru (and others). Right.

        When Kia and Hyundai design suspensions that are not handbook row and column excuses, I might take notice.

      • 0 avatar
        jfbar167

        The ONLY comparison between the 2 is the turbo, and the AWD system that was referenced as being SH (Acura) like in it’s implementation.

        We laugh at that face, but all those that said the same for the Cherokee are probably wondering why it’s current;y a top seller (for FCA)

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Again, Alex is hardly the only one who has compared the SX-L trim of a Kia product to the lesser “luxury” (FWD) brands/models.

        And since when has the RDX been regarded as being a standout?

        The interior OK, but nothing great and handling has taken a step back since Acura got rid of the SH-AWD for a cheaper AWD system.

        This what Car&Driver stated about the Sportage’s interior…

        “Naturally, interior appointments contribute to the comfort quotient, and the new Sportage receives high marks. The materials wouldn’t be out of place in a vehicle wearing Lexus badges; there’s nary a hard surface anywhere…”

        So I guess C&D must be off the mark as well.

        The Mazda CX-5 is also a nice less expensive alternative to the RDX (would pick that over an RDX any day since it looks a whole lot better); would that also be a wild, outlandish claim?

        Also, the latest H/K models have gotten pretty high marks for their suspension/ride (still, not nearly as good as the Australian market versions which get better tuning; including for steering feel).

        Aussie tuned Tucsons have actually beaten the highly acclaimed CX-5 in comparison tests (the CX-5 still has the better tiller, but the Tucson has the better ride and everyday driving comfort).

    • 0 avatar
      maderadura

      RDX Tech is not loaded (there are two levels above that) and is missing some of the stuff that the Sportage has. The top RDX is $43K

    • 0 avatar
      sfvarholy

      KIA quality is really remarkable these days. Had a rental-spec 2015 SOUL for two weeks and I came away impressed.

      In contrast to the rental Nissan Versa that was underwhelming.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The 2013 Sportage we drove found road irregularities like an ox cart. So we got the Buick Encore. I added the Trifecta tune and we were satisfied and delighted with the Encore.

    Speaking of the segment leading RDX, the latest motortrend has the Terrain Denali besting the RDX in the figure-8 test.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t matter how nice this spec’d out Sportage SX is, Kia buyers are price/credit buyers so the LX is probably a 50-60% take rate on what’s really going to be out on the great American road.

    Also, this looks like a child drew a picture of a first-gen Cayenne based on a phone conversation.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m thinking the days when Kia was a destination for credit criminals are kind of passing. My mom has 800 credit and just leased a Forte.

      • 0 avatar
        daviel

        I just traded a 2011 Sportage – not a lick of trouble with it – for a 2014 Forte Koup (new one, 22 miles on it). The Sportage was a great car, but I wanted something smaller and faster, which the Koup is.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, the SX trim was so popular for Kia that Kia added the even higher SX-L trim.

      The popularity of those trims was a big reason why the old Optima had an ATP that at times was higher than the Accord’s and was regularly higher than the Sonata and the Camry (among others).

      And it’s not just for the US, 40% of Sorento buyers in the UK went for the top spec KX-4 which starts at $59k in US dollars.

      Also, note that the top sellers for Kia are the Sorento and Optima, along with the Soul and not the likes of the Forte or Rio.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        {Archer Voiceover}

        “Said the raging, enthusiastic Kia salesman.”

        • 0 avatar
          maderadura

          Doesn’t make it untrue

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          @DW

          For someone who is known to spew just anything (ad nauseum) – got any FACTS to refute what I had stated or just going to same ‘ol and resort to ad hominem attacks?

          Also, why I quite liked the sheetmetal of the old Sportage – didn’t care for its ride or its plasticky interior.

          The new one addressed those issues, but don’t care for the front fascia.

          I’d be a pretty poor “salesman.”

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Kia really could have integrated their grille a bit better, I’m getting Subaru Tribeca vibes from this thing.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I find looking at that thing really bothersome. it’s like the grille was supposed to be higher, but it was left out in the sun too long and it slid down the bumper.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Yeah i actually like rhe remaining 3/4 of the vehicle. But that front end kills it for me. No sale.

      • 0 avatar
        maderadura

        Ill tell Porsche that you not interested in their SUVs either since they have the same elevated headlights look.

        http://www.autogespot.com/porsche-macan-turbo-2/2015/01/25

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Mention I don’t care for them either, if you can. Thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            While you’re talking to Porsche, could you please tell them to go back to making actual sports cars?
            The 911R should have been a base 911 with vinyl seats, a stick shift and no infotainment BS — for $75K. THAT would remind people what Porsche is supposed to be about.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Is this supposed to be some sort of comeback? What the hell do I care if you “tell Porsche” anything about what I think?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Not sure I understand the appeal of the Sportage, especially in 2.0T trim. It’s a badly compromised and poorly focused vehicle. At 7.5 seconds to 60 it’s not fast. With numb steering it isn’t sporty. With a small cargo bay, 23 (!) mpg highway, and stupid 19″ wheels, it isn’t very utilitarian or practical. I understand the RAV4 and Forester and Escape and CR-V; they are highly functional appliances to a fault and seem to have the crosshairs squarely set on the forehead of their target buyers. I don’t get this Sportage.

    The revised H/K 2.0 turbo continues to provide really lukewarm and inconsistent performance numbers. It’s 1.5 seconds slower than the old Sportage, and despite this new one weighing some 5 or 6 hundred pounds more than a Sonata with the same engine, its still quicker.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The Optima and Sonata we tested with the new 2.0L engine went 0-60 in 6.0, which was actually a hair faster than the old 2.0L turbo explained mainly by the change in torque curve. We tested over and over again to be sure but we could never explain why some outlets have reported such slow 0-60 times in their Sonatas.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    So what, then, was your first-place crossover choice, Alex?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The Sorento. It’s a demi-step up from the rabble in the compact crossover segment and since I like an “emergency third row” (because I don’t need one really) the V6 Sportage is a great deal.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I like the Sorento, too. It’s a nice size, right in between the dedicated-five-seater Santa Fe Sport and the true-seven-seat Santa Fe. And both the interior and exterior design are great.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Alex – agree that the Sorento is the better buy and looks better than the Sportage as well.

        Note – one reason why Sportage (and for that matter, Tucson) sales have been relatively low is the limited supply available for the US market (as the Sportage has been popular in other markets, in particular Europe).

        Kia was able to increase supply for 2015 and the previous generation Sportage had its best sales year (an increase of 11k over 2014).

        Supply of the new Sportage should increase as Kia’s Mexico plant goes online – freeing up production capacity (as certain models like the Forte start Mexico production).

        Still, supply will be limited to around 80-90k a year (which is about double what the Sportage had been selling in the US).

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        But wait.
        In Baruths last story everybody blasted the Kias and Hyundais for their actual products after miles were put on.
        They drove/drive like crap.

        I think we need to wait and see if these makers actually have substance beneath the lipstic.
        This could still be all cosmetic trickery.

        • 0 avatar
          daviel

          Lots of Kia hate among the auto-press. Maybe Kia needs to buy more advertising from C&D, R&T, et. al

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Actually, that’s not true at all.

            Both the Forte and Cadenza had won comparison tests for Motor Trend.

            The Sorento, Optima, Sedona Soul and Soul EV are all C&D 2016 Editor’s Choice picks.

            The old Sportage even made the list for 2015.

            The RDX didn’t make it for either year.

        • 0 avatar
          maderadura

          Kia was number 7 out of 38 brands in the US in Reliability in last years Consumer Reports Ranking above Nissan and Honda. Just saying…this is not “old Kia”.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            ConsumerReports!
            Don’t make me laugh. This rag tricked me into more crap stuff!
            From their tires to home items…they are all bull.
            And their Honda love drips from their pores.
            I made the mistake of buying their last auto rag and it was ridiculous how they manipulated and purposefully worded in favor of the lily pure cars they liked.
            And Honda is their baby.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Absolutely, The Acura rdx getting some of the lowest scores including reliability from Consumer Reports. Infact Acura in general gets very poor scores for reliability. The Kia brand has better reliability scores over Honda and especially Nissan.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            How does Acura rate on spelling and grammar?

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Vogo, Thank you nanny troll.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Kia tied for #1 with Mazda on AutoBild’s reliability rankings.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Lol where is the bumper

  • avatar
    Macca

    The infotainment font looks like something I would have thought was cool when I was souping up Win98 with Y’z Dock and other accoutrements. I think Comic Sans might even be a classier option.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I find it truly fascinating (and a bit disconcerting) how a “compact” CUV now weighs in at 4000lb. That’s about 200lb more than my ’96 4Runner, which has a fully boxed frame, thicker sheetmetal, steel bumpers, and bonafide 4wd hardware (solid rear axle, meaty front and rear driveshafts, transfer case, full compliment of skid plates). Now, I’m sure this is reflected in how much more cosseting the Kia is going down the road compared to my ballon-tired, jittery, bouncy beast. I’m also confident that even at 4000lb, this Kia blows my truck out of the water when it comes to fuel economy.

    The comparison is both impressive in how far we’ve come in efficiency gains, but also a contrast in the direction things have gone in terms of CUV/SUV design. It isn’t too far fetched to suggest that within their respective eras these vehicles attracted the same buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’m betting it’s quite close in weight to the Infiniti EX, which has more stuff underneath with RWD base, and large V6.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        QX50 (LWB EX) weighs in at 4,000 lbs. almost on the nose in loaded form.

        It’s hard to believe how much some of these FWD-based compact CUVs weigh. A current Forester XT, with turbo and goodies, is a shade over 3600 pounds. Get a Cherokee V6 and you’ll be piling almost 600 more pounds on that.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    My personal Sportage observations…we have a 2006 with 140k miles on it, the paint looks great, the perforated leather looks new, the kids fight over who gets to drive it…excellent little CUV. My mother has a 2012…hard flat seats, bang my head getting in, minimal headroom, WIDE windshield pillars and horrible visibility out the back. The visibility is so bad that my mother didn’t even look at Kia or Hyundai this time…bought a 2016 CR-V. I think the ’06 rides better than the ’12, less head-toss and harshness. The ’06 has a regular suspended accelerator pedal, the ’12 has a floor-hinged one like an old Cadillac for some reason, and the most sensitive throttle tip-in I’ve ever encountered.

    I am charmed that Kia echoes the grille shape in the top of the windshield…neat little detail. The ’12 had that feature too.

    I haven’t seen the new ’17 in person yet, but it looks like there are tiny windows, just like the ’12.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    Geez that thing is as ugly or uglier than the pig-nosed version of the defunct Subaru Tribeca.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Have you seen what it looked like before? Very low rent.

      http://auto-database.com/image/kia-sportage-iii-2015-pictures-179356.jpg
      https://i.ytimg.com/vi/suvceFEgb0I/hqdefault.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Disagree.

        The old one was nice looking (basically same greenhouse) and was better looking up front.

        Compared to the then CR-V and RAV-4, looked more upscale.

        What looked “low rent” was the old Tucson.

        The new Tucson is a huge improvement on the outside (the Sportage has the better interior) and is now the better looker of the 2.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This is such a massive improvement in styling over the prior one. I actually like how this looks now. And it seems like a better deal than something like a Sonata from what’s essentially the same company.

    However as Alex mentions, a hard sell against a much larger Sorento at same price.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I don’t know if its the incredibly awkward mounting of the fog lights or Big Wheels™ style rims, but in no universe is this KIA product a real alternative to premium Honda. My .02.

    Disclosure: I think this entire vehicle segment is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    EX35

    $35K for this? My God that’s $5K more than I paid for my new (then) EX (2011).

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    I am one of those that is gonna wait.
    I love Alex’s reviews…but I think he is jumping on the Korean quality wagon early. I think he leans Korean like CR leans Honda.
    Those that I know do not like their Kias and Hyundais …except for the one.

    I love the CX5 we have. I love the 13 Escape. I actually like the 09 Tiguan except it has absolutely no cargo space.

    And for all the hell given to Ford for its ecoboost mileage…everybody with turbos seems to be doing as poorly or worse.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Funny how people jumped on the Ford=Quality when everything became “One Ford”—until you look at the data and see that they’re not any better–possibly even worse. The Escape had how many recalls? The internals just don’t show “Quality is Job 1”.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        You asked the question…so exactly how many recalls did the Escape have. And for what?
        Which Escape? I believe it was the 1.6 turbo.

        And as for the real numbers…I have an Escape 2.0 turbo.
        It was getting around 25.5 ave. switched to 93 and am getting around 26.9/27 ave.
        Yes…this is 60/40 hwy/urban…but still…no where what others are saying.
        Some of us know how to use turbos. We don’t get addicted to the crack power.

        Truth be told…I have a hard time deciding between our CX5 and the Escape.
        But for solid drive…the Escape handles better and the power in the mountains is way better.
        I just love the CX5 for the slower country driving.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      It’s not jumping on the band wagon when you test drive these cars without bias. Some of the establishment brands, Nissan, Honda are turning into the Toyota boring brand of the 2000’s. Consumer Reports has the data to support the reliability ratings. Nissan, Infiniti, Acura are going backwards in reliability. Kia, Hyundai are beating those establishment brands in packaging, design, and now reliability.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Gotta agree with DeadWeight here, hyperbole and all.

    The comparison bdetween Hyundai’s weak, questionably reliable 2.0T and the J35 alone makes the idea that this can compete with the RDX a joke.

    And that interior may feel nice, but it looks low-rent. The RDX doesn’t have the best premium-segment interior, but it at least comes across as being in the premium segment.

    Also, 19.5 mpg is about what I get in mixed driving from our previous-gen Forester XT with the Jurassic 4-speed auto and EJ255 combination. Something with a powertrain more than a decade newer really ought to do a bit better.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Some people are going to claim I’m mean-spirited to call Alex out for writing what I did, but he’s under an ethical obligation to a) not write misleading headlines, and b) be objective in his reviews.

      As to b) above, Alex has at least admitted he’s a biased fan of Kia products, so there’s that (though it’s not a good excuse for his biased reviews), but the Sportage is a viable “alternative to an Acura RDX,” that’s a bridge way too far.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      The Acura / rdx looks more like a retirement older driver vehicle. KIA / Hyundai is building more up to date vehicles. Almost like the Apple brand compared to Droids branded phones.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    We test drove an ’11+ when we wanted to replace the ’08 Sportage. It didn’t seem better or worse than any of the others at the time, but I couldn’t see out the back (no windows) and I got claustrophobic.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Camacho: The King of Credit.

    youtube.com/watch?v=X03Ij9NUhp0

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As a Kia partisan, I think Kia would do well to provide the 2.4 version of the car to the press, rather than the thirsty 2.0T.

    I’ve always had my eye on the 2011-16 Sportage, but circumstances and poor fuel economy have stopped me. I have no interest in the turbo due to its terrible fuel economy, but even the 2.4 only manages about 23 in normal driving. AWD really hurts the mileage in these, but I would only want FWD.

    As for the Kia lineup, I think the upcoming hybrid Niro will be more desirable than this Sportage, especially from a fuel economy perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “As for the Kia lineup, I think the upcoming hybrid Niro will be more desirable than this Sportage, especially from a fuel economy perspective.”

      People no longer care about MPG, don’cha know? :-(

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Man I am so sold on the fake Cayenne exterior and Audi interior. Wifey is going to need a replacement for her 5 door Rabbit in the next year or so. My only concerns are that

    – if the steering in this is anything like the steering in the current gen Kia Soul rental I had early this week, I don’t know that I can have such a car in my household. My EPS Civic steered like a GT3 by comparison. Hell, my racing sim wheel has better feel for Christ’s sake. People I know and trust tell me that is a problem across the H/K range.

    – 2.0T got hit with the same slow stick as in the Sonata/Optima, but I don’t know that I could get a new 2.4 over an old 2.0T

    I really do love the looks of this thing but I just don’t know. I hate the jagged edges of the old one- the headlights and c pillar are really ugly to me- but a last gen FWD SX is hard to fault and the interiors are not much different.

    I really want the new Tiguan but Neue VW is just not to be trusted. RDX looks boring, Q5 is spotty, CX-5 reminds me too much of a RAV-4 etc. etc. I don’t know

  • avatar
    wmba

    I’m very disappointed – this review reads like an H/K puff piece. Way over-the-line praise for this little 4,000 lb water buffalo, and at the end of it, you have no idea whatsoever how it actually drives! Typical of Dykes. There’a only about ten sentences on the aspect, themselves disconnected, while infotainment goes on and on. Who cares about that fluff if the thing drives like a tank with the usual disconnected H/K steering feel?

    Dykes also as, usual, makes glaring factual and technical errors, a habit I’ve called him out on before.

    This time, he says the Kia AWD is wonderful. It ain’t. He says Subaru ditched the geared center differential (which was only ever on top line 3.6l ix cylinder and LGT models and is still on the WRX CVT, ) NO they didn’t, since 95% are and have been their normal MPT since 1999. That unit in itself is far more advanced than this Magna Dynamax, a unit with a better name than qualities. So, there was NOTHING to ditch on all four cylinder Subarus. BMW X Drive since 2005 is a near copy of MPT, except arranged for 40/60 torque split.

    Dykes duns the Subaru AWD for being 60/40, and it is, but IT’S ON ALL THE TIME. This Kia is DISCONNECTED 99% OF THE TIME, so we have a 4000 lb Korean dumpling with FWD in normal driving. 100/0. Is this better? Only in the mind of Dykes. Also, if it actually exists, overdriving the rear like SH-AWD, overlooks the two clutch system in the Acura, and is of ZERO use in normal driving, because the rear axle is disconnected. How many more logical faux pas do I have to suffer?

    Not only is he completely incorrect (and I was so angry yesterday I wrote a full page technical dissertation about different AWD systems, but felt it too long to post), the result is that the review becomes highly misleading and disingenuous by overpraising ordinariness. And then we get rubbish on sales figures which far overstates Kia’s progess in the marketplace versus competitors, as I say in a comment above.

    It means the conclusions he draws are suspect from beginning to end. And if he wishes to dispute his AWD statements, well I’ll post the long essay I wrote yesterday.

    If I wanted to read biased and technically naive reviews like this, there are about two dozen sites with equally useless ones. This is TTAC. I expect more, much more.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Here’s an alternative – RAV-4 Hybrid –

    http://www.motortrend.com/cars/toyota/rav4-hybrid/2016/

    Similar price, performance, handling and significantly better real-world MPG in an SUV that only gives up 3 cubic feet of cargo space for a 10-15MPG improvement.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I don’t think this look will age very well. The most recent generation still looks good and very Audi-ish, thank you Schreyer, but this is terrifying. It’s cross-eyed ala the new Maxima.

    My experience with the 2011 Forte that I had has me leery about Kias (it liked to prevent me shifting into 4th gear). I’m not saying that I would never give them another chance; mine may have been an anomaly. That being said I generally prefer understated and this isn’t quite understated.


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