2019 Kia Sportage Receives Mild-hybrid Diesel, Even Milder Visual Refresh

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While it seems a little early for Kia’s Sportage to gain a visual refresh, the manufacturer apparently didn’t feel its new engine option should arrive unaccompanied. The automaker is launching a 48-volt diesel mild hybrid system in Europe for 2019, and chucked in a handful of aesthetic enhancements for good measure.

The jury’s still out on the motor’s availability in North America. While the diesel decline in Europe is palpable, they still sell a lot more passenger cars equipped with them than we do. However, since it does fall into that weird hybrid category, there’s a chance it could crop up in extremely limited numbers. We’d bank on seeing a mild hybrid system from Kia make its way to the U.S. and Canada soon, only coupled to a gasoline motor. But expect to see some upgraded bodywork and interior touches for the coming model year.

Visual updates for the 2019 model take a minimalist approach but work well as a whole. Front and rear bumpers illicit a more premium appearance, making the new version look like a higher-trimmed sporting variant of the old one. The tail lamps have undergone a subtle redesign and the reverse lights are now stacked atop the low-mounted indicators.

Kia also added some tasteful changes to the fog lamps and new wheel designs in every size. Optional extras include a chrome trim pieces on higher trims, some new paint colors, and metallic skid plates.

Interior revisions include a new steering wheel, revised instrument cluster, and new two-tone upholstery. Kia’s also offering its Smart Cruise Control setup with Stop & Go, Driver Attention Warnings, and a multi-camera surround system to help with parking.

For European customers, Kia intends to offer a 2.0-liter ‘R’ diesel engine paired with the aforementioned 48-volt hybrid system. The electrical components will eventually be affixed to gasoline models and, when they are, you can expect to see it in North America. Euro-spec Sportages also gain a downsized 1.6-liter diesel, which replaces the 1.7-liter and uses common-rail direct injection.

The crossover’s domestic motors have yet to be announced, but we have little reason to believe Kia won’t carry over the engines from last year. These amount to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Kia says it will specify pricing and alterations for the North American Sportage later this year.

[Images: Kia Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • RHD RHD on May 23, 2018

    Front and rear bumpers illicit a more premium appearance, Elicit! Optional extras include a chrome trim pieces on higher trims The "a" is superfluous. Cars can't drive themselves without humans, and writers can't just use Spellcheck to proofread their articles. Brains and good judgement have not been surpassed. Yer welcome.

    • Maxb49 Maxb49 on May 24, 2018

      "Front and rear bumpers illicit a more premium appearance," Sadly, nothing looks premium about any "crossover." These look like cars for the mental patient.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on May 25, 2018

    Puffer fish are much more adorable in the water. To my eyes the styling of this model peaked circa 2011. Styling is subjective, I know, but the cleaner Audi-esque lines of the older models were preferable to me. Is the former Audi designer still with the company or has he been poached again?

  • EBFlex Yawn. It’s still a white refrigerator. A Camry has more soul and passion than this.
  • Jkross22 For as nice as these were at the time, I always preferred the 850, even with wrong wheel drive. Especially the early 90s. In sedan form. The 850R. Mmmmm.
  • FreedMike Well, if you want a Swedish cockroach that's easy to work on, here's your ticket. Tad overpriced but it's an asking price, after all. And those old Volvo seats are divine. It'd be worth a look.
  • SCE to AUX "...has arguably advantaged the Asian nation by subsidizing electric vehicles, it has attempted to prioritize more domestic manufacturing by pouring money atop the relevant industries via the so-called Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act"Seems like you're trying to diss the Biden Administration before crediting its protectionism in the IRA.Chinese-made EV batteries aren't part of the subsidy program, so subsidizing EVs hasn't advantaged China. But the general sourcing of Chinese-made components - whether in a subsidized car or not - does help China.This is a general problem in the US economy. Everybody wants to wave the flag, but nobody wants to be the high-cost supplier, and nobody wants to pay more.The same scenario played out 50 years ago, except the competitor was Japan. At the end of the day, protectionism didn't work, and consumers got what they wanted.
  • Bkojote I'm so glad I bought a Kia Telluride instead of a Toyota Tacoma given all these recalls. I wanted an off roady looking vehicle so I could impress the secretary we hired but instead my wife left me when she saw my phone messages and now I'm stuck making the $1200 monthly payment until I can refinance at a lower rate than 28% even though I lost my job last month. I'm hoping the Kia dealers will let me trade to the new one with the bigger infotainment tooFunny enough the secretary's new boyfriend is driving a Tacoma but with the recall maybe I'll have a shot.