Though it's one of the oldest designs in the compact crossover class, the third-generation Kia Sportage still turns heads. That's a remarkable feat made more notable by Kia's having barely shed its up-and-coming status in the auto industry.
It's interesting, too, that one of Kia's most daring designs was applied to a type of vehicle rarely known for adventurous looks. To see what we mean, you need go no further than a Honda, Toyota Ford or Nissan showroom, where you'll find small crossovers that are, perhaps, more popular than the Sportage but wear rather forgettable styling.
Per class norms, the Sportage's powertrain options begin with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine that cranks out 182 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Sportage is among the minority available with a manual transmission, albeit only in the most basic LX FWD model. LX can be optioned with a six-speed automatic and AWD, and the automatic remains standard in all other trims. EX also uses the 2.4L, but top-trim SX models get a 2.0L turbocharged motor making 260 hp and 269 lb-ft.
That turbo mill makes the Sportage one of the most potent small crossovers and gives it a splash of character that many of its competitors lack. In fact, not much can touch the Sportage for power output other than the Ford Escape, whose own 2.0L turbo engine offers similarly punchy performance.
What the Sportage lacks is polish in its over-the-road manners and driver engagement; The Escape and Mazda CX-5 are better drivers.
Sportage fuel consumption estimates are 11.4/8.3 L/100 km (city/highway) for a 2.4L FWD/automatic model, and 12.0/9.3 with AWD. Ratings for the 2.0L/AWD SX are 12.6/9.7. The relatively rare FWD/stickshift combo's ratings are 12.9/9.2.
Standard kit in LX FWD trim includes 16-inch alloy wheels, electric power steering, hill assist and downhill brake control, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, cruise control, map lights, heated front seats, cloth upholstery, power door locks with keyless entry, air conditioning, power windows and heated side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, variable intermittent front wipers, Bluetooth, six-speaker stereo, two 12-volt power outlets, automatic headlights and fog lights.
Choose the automatic transmission and Kia adds lighted vanity mirrors, roof rails, a trip computer and rear centre armrest with cupholders.
EX FWD adds 17-inch wheels, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-folding side mirrors, UVO infotainment, backup camera, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sonar and intelligent keyless entry with push-button start.
New to the EX line are 18-inch wheels that come bundled with AWD. EX can be further optioned with a luxury package of panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, leather seating, LED taillights, heated steering wheel, cooling glove box and an upgraded gauge cluster. Navigation is offered as a stand-alone option on top of the luxury group.
SX AWD trim builds on EX AWD with luxury and navigation and adds the turbocharged engine and chrome dual exhaust tips.
Finally, an SX Luxury package brings HID headlights, luggage net and cargo cover and heated rear seats.
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