By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
The first Kia Sportage was a rugged, but not terribly reliable, compact SUV with a body-on-frame chassis that made it a good low-cost alternative to the Jeep Wrangler. But, while the Jeep Wrangler has grown larger and less fuel-efficient, the 2012 Kia Sportage SUV has transformed into something altogether different. The 2012 Kia Sportage is now a clever compact SUV with a car-like ride, great fuel economy and an impressive level of overall quality and reliability. No longer a rugged off-road vehicle, the 2012 Kia Sportage compact SUV now competes with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevy Equinox and Ford Escape. Beyond its head-turning styling, feature-laden standard-equipment list and available turbocharged engine, the 2012 Kia Sportage has one of the best standard warranties in the business, covering the powertrain for 10-years/100,000-miles.
If you need the room and versatility of a compact SUV, but you want something that is fun and sporty to drive, the 2012 Kia Sportage tops a very short list. Its affordable price makes up for its middle-of-the-road resale values, and its available 260-horsepower turbocharged engine is a rarity in this segment.
Not everyone will be drawn to the 2012 Kia Sportage SUV's polarizing looks. Those looking for a more traditional compact SUV with a large cargo bay should look to the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forster or Toyota RAV4.
The 2012 Kia Sportage SUV has a slight increase in fuel economy for both the 2.4-liter and 2.0-liter turbocharged engines. All models receive improved rear suspension dampers and more sound insulation, while LX trims have new 17-inch wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires. EX trims with cloth seats get a new anti-bacterial, anti-soil fabric that also repels static build-up.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Kia Sportage's taut suspension and powerful engine choices put the "sport" in Sport Utility Vehicle. Compared with its nearest competitors, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the...2012 Kia Sportage SUV rides a bit stiffer, but delivers better cornering and recovery from sharp dips in the road. The nicely-weighted steering feels good in your hands and delivers predictable response to rapid inputs and quick adjustments. The 2.4-liter and 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines both offer ample power in any driving situation, with our favorite being the turbocharged version in the Sportage SX. The 2.4-liter is more than capable in climbing steep hills and handling quick passing maneuvers, but the turbocharged 2.0-liter adds a new level of driving fun. The 2.0-liter turbo also feature gasoline direct injection technology that helps it attain good fuel economy without sacrificing power.
More sun equates to more fun and this dual-section sunroof lets the rear-seat occupants stare at the wonders above.
2.0-liter turbocharged engine
Found in the 2012 Kia Sportage SX, the 260-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine makes the car surprisingly quick and a lot more fun to drive.
The edgy exterior design of the 2012 Kia Sportage SUV carries over into the interior with a wildly (some say over-done) futuristic-looking dash, stylish cloth or leather seating and plenty of features to keep techno-savvy drivers happy. Functionally, there is much to like inside the 2012 Kia Sportage SUV, with a big, roomy rear seat that can be folded flat to make a modestly-roomy 54.6 cubic-foot cargo hold. While useful, the Sportage's cargo bay is not quite as large as those in the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, both of which offer more than 70 cubic feet of cargo space. Cloth seating surfaces are standard and feature a number of colors and patterns to help owners better customize the Sportage. EX trims feature special anti-bacterial cloth that helps eliminate odors and stains that can accumulate over time. We like a number of the 2012 Kia Sportage's interior options, but the panoramic sunroof's manual sunshades don't strike us as very useful and should be power-operated.Exterior
The 2012 Kia Sportage SUV's sleek design includes sharp lines, narrow side glass and Kia's signature "tab" front grille. Penned by Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer (the same man responsible for the Audi TT) the 2012 Kia Sportage SUV is a huge departure from previous designs, and even leaves most of its competition looking rather outdated. The clever interplay between the dark lines surrounding the grille, lower air ducts, and painted wheel inserts give the Sportage a keenly sinister appearance. The Sportage's high beltline and big wheel and tire combo make it look a bit like a hopped-up VW GTI. Don't be fooled by the 2012 Kia Sportage's sporty appearance, however, as its available all-wheel drive (AWD) and nearly seven inches of ground clearance make it every bit a compact SUV.
The 2012 Kia Sportage SUV is offered in four front-wheel-drive trim levels: Base, LX, EX and SX, with AWD available on all but the Base. Standard equipment across all trim levels includes air conditioning, power accessories, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a rear under-floor storage compartment and a satellite-radio-equipped audio system with four speakers. Some notable standard features that come with the EX and SX trims include Kia's UVO infotainment system, back-up warning system, push-button start, a cooling glovebox and auto-climate control.
All of the options available for the 2012 Kia Sportage come in the form of packages. Some noteworthy highlights of the Sportage option packages include a navigation system, heated front seats, a cooled driver's seat, a panoramic sunroof and a premium audio system with a subwoofer.
The 2012 Kia Sportage SUV's new 2.4-liter engine is robust and fuel-efficient and should suffice for most drivers' needs. Costing a bit more is the turbocharged 2.0-liter, which provides V6-like power and 4-cylinder fuel economy. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which delivers impressive fuel-economy numbers and can be shifted manually. A 6-speed manual transmission is available, but only on the base trim level.
2.4-liter in-line 4
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (front-wheel drive, manual), 21/30 (front-wheel drive, automatic), 20/27 (AWD, automatic), 19/25 (AWD, manual)
2.0-liter turbocharged in-line 4
260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850 - 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (front-wheel drive), 20/25 (AWD)
The 2012 Kia Sportage SUV comes with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $19,000. Stepping up to the LX trim level adds about $2,300, with the EX trim coming in at just under $25,000. The turbocharged SX trim starts at around $28,000 but, when it's topped with every option, that price can creep past $32,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com shows what others are paying for the Kia Sportage in your area, so be sure to check it out before you buy. As for residuals, we expect that the Kia Sportage won't hold its value as well as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 SUVs, but it will be on par with that of the Nissan Rogue and Jeep Compass.
By Pat (NY) on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I is a great car. The best I have had in a long time. After I bought it I found out that many people in my office have the same car. My brother bought one as well. it looks great and runs great. This is my second KIA"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Newest Member of Dancing Hamsters (OH) on Friday, March 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Stylish and very ECO for a SUV."
Cons: "Minor, just blind spots when changing lanes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 2013 Sportage SX T-GDI in January 2013. I originally was looking to purchase the EX model with the Premium Package upgrade, then realized almost everything in the Premium Package was in the SX. The first few weeks it seemed like i was filling up the gas tank a lot (avg'd 18 mpg), however now that the ECO drive has observed how my driving is, I'm getting 28 mpg on avg. Its even better on Long Traveling trips, EXCELLECT on gas then!! If there was one down side to it, the blind spots are a little harder to see, however by using the side view and the rear view mirrors before turning your head seems to help. I had a Jetta GLS before this and got used to the "better items" it had standard, however the Sportage has everything my Jetta did plus A LOT more. So far all I can say is this was the best car buying decision I've ever made and I'm now hooked on KIA!! BRAVO on a great Product KIA!!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Annie (NV) on Monday, March 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love this car. My favorite of all my cars."
Cons: "Blind area sides, some road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"There is some road noise and blind spots on the sides by back. Have to be careful changing lanes. Other than that, love the car. Handles great. Feels safer than other cars that I have owned. Bought it for driving in winter conditions with the all wheel drive and safety of side airbags. Love being able to talk on phone safely with bluetooth."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Bobby D (UT) on Thursday, February 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased a 2013 Sportage EX (AWD) because the SX Turbo was nowhere to be seen at the time (they don't stay around). I loved the vehicle and was willing to settle for the 2.4 L engine (although I had driven the Optima SX Turbo and thought I could never drive a normally aspirated engine again). Then came available the black beauty Sportage SX unexpectedly at my local Kia dealership. I immediately traded my EX in,with a little $$ hit sorry to say, but I have not regretted it one bit. The SX turbo is awesome and a blast to drive. The sport handling is better also than the EX. The bottom line is that this car rocks and has all you need, inside and out, with exhilarating performance. If you can find one or wait for one, spend the little extra money for the SX turbo package. I am grateful to Kia for raising the bar for the consumer. You won't find a better all around package for the value anywhere, period."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Sleepless in buffalo (NY) on Sunday, December 30, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks good, awd is fun to drive in the snow"
Cons: "ignition locks up sometimes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"For my first new vehicle purchase I decided on the kia sportage with awd. Comming from a mazda 6 I relly wanted something that could handle the buffalo winters, be fun to drive, ans safe for my new baby twin girls. The sportage hits the nail right on the head. Fun to drive and I love the bluetooth sync with my phone, i wirelessly transfer music and take calls through the built in audio system. I also installed a remote car stater from the dealer. One major problem though, The ignition locks up and wont turn sometimes. I have to jiggle the steering column alot and its taken me over 5 minutes to get it to work, with the remote car starter the issue has become less as of an issue. But in my opinion this is a monster problem so beware."
9 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By verydisappointed (OR) on Sunday, December 02, 2012
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Did not get stated gas mileage, bumpy ride, uncomfortable seats, poor rear visibility. - My approximate mileage is 380
Pros: "it's just pretty to look at"
Cons: "Didn't get stated MPG, poor rear visibility"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle is the worst vehicle I've ever owned. It did not get the stated gas mileage. As a matter of fact, one week after I bought the Kia, Kia/Hyundai admitted it had overstated the MPG many of their vehicles could get and the Sportage was one of them. In addition, in 2002 the same manufacturer overstated the horsepower of many of their vehicles. After reading so many vehicle reviews of people claiming the warranty was not honored I no longer felt I could trust this manufacturer in addition to feeling the reliability of the vehicle was questionable. The seats were so uncomfortable for both driver and passenger, the ride was bumpy, and rear visibility was very poor. Before anyone buys a Kia or Hyundai I would recommend checking what the maintenance requirements are so the warranty is not voided for missing a requirement. What good is a great warranty if one cannot be sure it will be honored or it is voided for the smallest of reasons? For instance, Kia expects you to change one of the filters (I believe it is the cabin filter) every 15,000 miles whether it needs it or not whereas Toyota only expects you to change the same filter every 15,000 miles only if it needs it. I ended up trading in the Kia because I could not sell it. I will never own a Kia or a Hyundai for that matter ever again."
15 people out of 23 found this review helpful