Recognize this Kia?
TTAC’s Matthew Guy drove and reviewed this particular 2017 Sportage SX Turbo in early July. Readers need not an ability to read between the lines to locate Guy’s disappointment in the turbocharged 2.0 liter’s responsiveness, or the nearly complete and total lack thereof.
“Kia’s intent is to offer V6 power with four-banger economy. Unfortunately, I found little of either in this Coke-bottle-sized engine,” he wrote at the time.
The Sportage SX, rated at 237 horsepower and 260 lbs-ft of torque, shuffles its power through all four wheels in a 3,997-pound package. In a 2016 Kia Sorento weighing 4,303 pounds, I said the same powerplant’s mid-range “is as punchy as the Sorento’s available 3.3-liter V6,” and “passing power is plentiful as you ride a 260-lb-ft wave across a plateau of torque.”
Yet in the smaller and lighter Sportage, Matthew says, “Outside Sport Mode, it didn’t even feel like 137 hp, let alone 100 more.” In TTAC’s hyperactive Slack chat at the end of July, he continued, “It drove like cold molasses going backward uphill.”
But Guy was the first auto writer to get seat time in this specific 2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo. Unbeknownst to him, and to the Kia Sportage’s instrument cluster, the Kia was wounded before getting to the battlefield.
The SUV’s rise to king of the automotive fiefdom is well documented. Seizing the chance for fat profits and sales glory, manufacturers took their existing product, added a couple of doors and ladled on the chrome. Buyers flocked to them like Brexiters lining up to change their vote. In time, thanks to Prius driving tofu-twinks wearing nuclear-free peace sandals, these brutes became as politically correct as a Monsanto home fracking kit and, with a few exceptions, have been resigned to the dustbin of history.
OEMs recognized the trend, slowly backing away from the behemoth machines. Modifying their smaller unibody offerings, tall two-box crossovers soon dotted the landscape, watering down the SUV formula until buyers were left with the automotive equivalent of Metamucil.
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