2017 Kia Sportage Review


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2017 Kia Sportage Overview

The well-known and often-remarked-upon American “obsession” with SUVs has apparently transformed into a similar problem with crossovers, quickly turning the crossover segment into one of the hottest in the U.S. car market. So it’s no surprise to see major automakers consistently rolling out ever more stylish and sophisticated offerings like… the 2017 Kia Sportage compact crossover. Now entering its fourth generation, the redesigned Sportage made its first appearance at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, showcasing substantial improvements in everything from its exterior design to its onboard technology.

Designed with significant input from Germany, the 2017 Sportage departs furthest from its previous generation in its front end. The old grille has been replaced with the new “tiger nose” grille that is fast becoming familiar across the entire Kia lineup (see the 2017 Kia Forte, for instance). The headlights are higher, flush with the hood, and the top-of-the-line SX Turbo trim features a new LED foglight arrangement Kia refers to as an “ice cube” setup, a squarish group of four lamps that sits well off on either side of the nose. It's also worth noting that the Sportage’s wheelbase has grown by 1.2 inches, and its overall length by 1.6.

The 2017 Sportage trim lineup remains about the same, starting with the base LX and moving up to the midlevel EX and flagship SX Turbo. Each trim is available with all-wheel drive (AWD); otherwise, front-wheel drive (FWD) comes standard. The AWD system, which Kia dubs “Dynamax,” can sense driving conditions and adjust accordingly. Trims equipped with AWD also feature a front fascia with a steeper approach angle.

Powering the LX and EX is a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) producing 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, mated to a standard 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission. Fuel economy checks in at 22 mpg city/29 highway/25 combined with FWD and 21/25/23 with AWD. The SX Turbo features a 2.0-liter I4 that has been turbocharged for 241 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and is also managed by the 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy for the turbo is estimated at 21/26/23 with FWD and 20/23/21 with AWD. Both engines have been retuned for 2017, resulting in fuel economy that's actually slightly better than that of the previous generation.

Kia overhauled the Sportage’s suspension for 2017—a wise decision, seeing as the Sportage has drawn criticism in the past for having a harsh ride. The fully independent 4-point front and multilink independent rear suspension should be more responsive to different road conditions, and the SX Turbo features firmer shock absorbers for a sportier ride. The overall frame is stiffer, meaning a smoother drive, and torsional rigidity is up 39%, meaning a safer one. Kia has even upgraded the Sportage’s steering for better response and feel.

With even entry-level cabins growing more and more luxurious across the auto industry, the interior of the Sportage has received numerous updates. All trims house a clean-looking interior fitted with metalwork and soft-touch materials, and the EX and SX Turbo both feature standard leather upholstery. The SX Turbo even adds a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and aluminum alloy pedals. Cargo capacity behind the rear seats is now 30.7 cubic feet, a dramatic improvement from the previous generation, and an optional Smart Power Liftgate will open automatically whenever the key fob comes within 3 feet of the vehicle.

Kia enhanced the 2017 Sportage’s technology as much as it enhanced everything else in the vehicle. The LX starts with a standard 5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth hands-free capability and streaming audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a rear-camera display. The EX and SX Turbo both add Kia’s new UVO3 infotainment system, which features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, up to 8GB of music storage, and a wide array of telematics services. The EX uses a 7-inch touchscreen interface, and the SX Turbo features an 8-inch touchscreen and includes navigation. Although a 160-watt 6-speaker audio system is standard, all trims have the option of a 320-watt Harman Kardon 8-speaker upgrade.

The 2017 Sportage is available with an impressive array of up-to-date safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and bi-HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Light technology, which angles the lights as you turn, allowing for better visibility while cornering. The 2016 Sportage received 5 out of 5 stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (4 out of 5 overall when equipped with AWD) and scores of Good on all Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) tests other than the small frontal overlap, on which it rated Poor. Look for improved scores (and possibly a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS) thanks to the 2017 model’s structural improvements.

Kia is known for offering affordable vehicles, and although pricing for the 2017 model has not yet been announced, expect it to be in line with what we saw for the 2016 model year. A base LX started at just over $22,000, and an AWD SX ran just north of $31,000. Options packages on the LX and EX could add anywhere from $1,000 to over $3,000.

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