Kia Sportage Updates Styling for Fifth Generation

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Kia has updated the design of its Sportage to mimic the enticing angular menace that is the K5 sedan. It’s a far cry from the overtly friendly styling of the outgoing model, though appears to be working rather well. The fifth generation of the crossover digitally debuted in Korea on Tuesday and has already garnered a notable amount of praise. Though this went exclusively toward the visual updates, as there doesn’t appear to be much changing in terms of mechanical equipment.

Kia’s official release doesn’t even mention powertrains.

Unless there’s to be a bunch of carryover from the current generation, we’re expecting the gen-five hardware to copy what’s in the Hyundai Tuscon — the Sportage’s rebadged twin. On our market, that means a 2.5-liter Smartstream engine cranking out 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid variant is also likely, presumably using a 1.6-liter T-GDi paired up to a 44kW electrical motor. That unit may replace the 2.0-liter turbo that’s currently on sale, probably matching its 240-hp output.

But we’re speculating and Kia doesn’t want you to be focused upon all that technical crap while it’s trying to dazzle you with the model’s new looks — which include an extra edgy “X-Line” that offers quilted upholstery in black or green, fancier trim pieces, unique bumpers, new side sills and a curved roof rack. The manufacturer suggested it gives the Sportage a more “confident, vigorous and versatile character.”

The entire design philosophy is called ” Opposites United” and is the result of an allegedly extensive collaboration between the company’s creative teams in Korea, Germany, the United States, and China. As you can see below, it’s based around five pillars of marketing nonsense.

From Kia:

Revealed earlier this year to great acclaim from the design community, Kia’s new design philosophy – Opposites United – is at the core of the all-new Sportage, influencing every aspect of its appearance and character. The principles of Opposites United will influence all future Kia designs, giving them the same basic DNA. The thought-provoking and daring philosophy strengthens the connection between design and Kia’s new brand direction, ‘Movement that inspires.’

Opposites United is formed of five pillars: Joy for Reason, Power to Progress, Technology for Life, Tension for Serenity and Bold for Nature. The last pillar – Bold for Nature – has profoundly influenced the design creation of the all-new Sportage, embodying the natural world and creating a design identity that takes a daring, emotional, modern but organic form.

It’s hard to see how anyone could come to the conclusion that the new Sportage looks organic unless we’re talking about life on other planets, close up photos of insects, or animals occupying in the deep seas. The more I think about it the more I begin to worry that this is actually an ugly car that I’ve been conned into thinking is daring and attractive. The exterior could age like milk on a radiator, going full Pontiac Aztek before you’ve parked it in your garage ( unless becomes subject to a recall recommending you don’t do that).

But, minus some of the exterior’s distracting accoutrements, I’m sold on the styling at present and everyone else seems to feel similarly. This is especially true for the interior, which looks marvelously upscale and uncluttered. Kia even retained a good number of tactile interfaces for people who absolutely despise touchscreens. While it’s unlikely to come with the most decadent materials (though Kia claimed otherwise), it’s inarguably the most appealing aspect of the vehicle.

The model has been a big seller for the brand and we’re doubting this will change when the fifth-gen Sportage hits the showroom. We’re thinking it’s to included in the 2022 model year, but there’s a chance it could be delayed until 2023. Kia stated that the crossover’s global launch would be taking place before year’s end, either way.

Specifics for our market, including configurations and powertrain, should be made available later this summer.

[Images: Kia]

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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3 of 18 comments
  • Redapple Redapple on Jun 09, 2021

    Silly small windows aft of the driver. Real pinched backlight.

  • Lie2me Lie2me on Jun 09, 2021

    Nice looking in and out, but if Kia wants my business they're going to have to do better then, "2.5-liter Smartstream engine cranking out 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft" That's a slug for a vehicle this size

    • Kyree Kyree on Jun 10, 2021

      On the very next line: "A hybrid variant is also likely, presumably using a 1.6-liter T-GDi paired up to a 44kW electrical motor. That unit may replace the 2.0-liter turbo that’s currently on sale, probably matching its 240-hp output."

  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.
  • ToolGuy Lose a couple of cylinders, put the rest in a straight line and add a couple of turbos. Trust me.
  • ToolGuy Got no money for the Tasman, it is going to the Taxman. 🙁
  • ToolGuy They should have hired some Ford Motor Company employees. No, I'm kidding -- they should have hired some Ford Motor Company executives. 😉