With the compact crossover segment continuing to be one of the fastest-growing in North America, Kia has taken the 2017 redesign of their Sportage very seriously. The need to keep pace has led to new styling, new tech, new chassis tuning and an interior re-think.
Here are some of the highlights.
Ice cube foglights
If you think these are the brightest foglights you’ve ever seen, you’re probably right. They come as standard on the 2017 Sportage SX Turbo, and while they may not do a huge amount for the front fascia, they do plenty for your view out.
Not only do they look good, but the adaptive headlights on the EX Tech trim and above are able to rotate +15 to –7.5 degrees when you keep the headlights in auto mode.
Grilled to perfection
The Sportage actually gets two applications of the Kia’s trademark ‘sharknose’ grille, as turbocharged SX models get a different grille design that provides better cooling. If you like your crossovers with a healthy helping of black accents on the fascia, then this will likely float your boat as it can be found on the foglight surrounds, lower splitter and cladding the fenders. The Sportage – especially with those foglights – has one of the more distinctive faces on the crossover landscape.
Added space and flexibility
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The Sportage continues to grow with every subsequent generation. This time, the overall length now reaches 4,480 mm, a 40-mm extension. The wheelbase, meanwhile, has been stretched by 30 mm, for a total of 2,670 mm. This translates to an additional 70 litres of cargo space, which can actually be modified thanks to an adjustable cargo floor. The rear seatbacks can also tilt at the tug of lever, all the way to 28 degrees of recline angle. There’s more room inside for all occupants, too.
Quiet back there!
Wheel stiffness has been increased by 48% to reduce road noise and acoustic laminated glass is now standard on all trims, making for a 0.33 drag coefficient and a quieter interior for all occupants. Enlarged engine mounts also help in this regard.
The proprietary Kia UVO infotainment system hasn’t changed a huge amount, but the addition of Android Auto compatibility (Apple CarPlay is on the way) add an extra layer of tech to the proceedings. It’s all displayed on a responsive touchscreen. And, if you really want to hear your tunes, opt for the eight-speaker Harman/Kardon 320-watt audio system.
All trims, meanwhile, get back-up cam and heated seats, and there are three display screen sizes available – 5, 7 and 8 inches.
Down a little on power. But wait! There’s more!
Yes, eagle-eyed Sportage-ophiles will see that the 2.0L turbocharged four-banger in the SX Turbo trim is down 23 hp and 9 lb-ft on the ‘16 model, which is too bad. However; peak torque arrives more quickly thanks to a faster-spooling turbocharger, which also helps improve fuel economy. The base engine, a naturally aspirated 2.4L, sees little change in its power output.
Handling it on the road
All Sportages come with mechanically self-adjusting dampers, meaning that no matter which wheel size you choose – 17, 18 or 19 inches – the ride stays the same, even though the wheels themselves have been stiffened up for better curve performance. The Advanced Traction Cornering Control, meanwhile, sends torque to appropriate wheels in order to reduce over- or understeer.
Handling it off the road
The 2017 Sportage’s Dynamax intelligent AWD allows for a 50:50 front:rear torque distribution, a locking centre diff and hill-descent control, standard on all AWD models. In normal driving, torque sits at 95:5 front:rear, but automatically responds to wheel slippage.
Colour me impressed
Indeed, it’s hard not to be impressed by the new Modern Bronze exterior colour, which adds a layer of luxury to the Sportage, as opposed to the retina-searing Digital Yellow and Copper Orange colours we used to choose from. Also new this year is the availability of two tints of brown for the interior.