Compact SUV Comparison: 2017 Kia Sportage
A proven winner
Starting Price: $24,095 | Price yours
Above Average: Interior appeal and utility, infotainment system, warranty
Below Average: Overall roominess
Consensus: The well-rounded Sportage has few meaningful shortcomings
The redesigned 2017 Kia Sportage earned our Compact SUV Best Buy award earlier in the model year year by offering a compelling mix of style, amenities and value -- and by beating the redesigned CR-V to market. The segment has grown more competitive since then, adding the impressive new CR-V and much improved 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, among others. But even in the company of some strong newcomers the Sportage demonstrated the well-rounded appeal that earned it our biggest award of the year.
For a starting price of less than $25,000 the 2017 Kia Sportage includes niceties like soft-touch materials in the cabin, reclining rear seats, a touchscreen audio system, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, plus a boatload of safety equipment. Our tester, a mid-level EX, added navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, leather seats and more. The Premium and Technology packages brought still more equipment, including a panoramic sunroof, power-folding side mirrors, harman/kardon audio, and a hands-free power tailgate for an as-tested price of $32,595, making it the least expensive entry in this comparison. And it seemed that every time we looked for a particular feature, we made the happy discovery that yes, the Sportage has that too. Heated steering wheel? Yes. Cooled front seats? You betcha. Rear cross traffic alert? But of course! The only exception: even though the Sportage is new for 2017 and is near the top of its class when it comes to amenities, it is not available with adaptive cruise control.
The EX is the highest Sportage trim level available with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which we specified for testing consistency. While the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder has more power, in many ways we prefer the more common 2.4-liter's combination of decent get up and go and good fuel economy. In our comparison test's mix of winding roads, Interstate travel and city traffic, the Sportage again proved agreeable and pleasant to drive. The Sportage is comfortable, well-equipped, easy to use and reconfigure for cargo, and comes with one of the best suites of safety features in its class. Combined with the best warranty in its class, the 2017 Kia Sportage remains one of the best compact SUV values out there.
2017 Kia Sportage
Sporting compliant yet supportive seats and a smooth ride, the Sportage is a comfortable compact SUV. The 2.4-liter engine doesn’t have the gusto of the optional uplevel engine, but it has enough power to manage grades and offers decent passing power. There is some wind and road noise, but it's perfectly acceptable.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is a good partner for this engine, as it does a fine job of keeping a careful balance between power and frugality. Editors noted engine response was very good on initial acceleration and that the Kia offered better throttle response than most of the other SUVs in this comparison test. Features such as rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot detection came in handy around town and in parking lots. Autonomous emergency braking added a sense of confidence; fortunately, we never had to test it out.
From positive reviews of seat comfort (with extra kudos for the excellent lumbar support in the driver's seat) to the ease of use of every control in the cabin, the Sportage's interior stands out for its clean, user-friendly design. The interior uses softer materials on the dash, armrests and doors, and offers plenty of handy nooks and storage spots.
We were already fans of Kia's UVO infotainment system, but for 2017 the Sportage adds the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. We also like that there are buttons and knobs to make it easy to control everything. As one editor on the comparison test noted, "A button-rich cabin, but overall good layout and UVO system looks good and works well."
While the rear seat doesn’t have as many soft-touch surfaces as you'll find in front, second-row passengers will find ample headroom, generous legroom and reclining seat backs. Rear-seat passengers also have their own USB port,12-volt plug and adjustable vents, plus overhead reading lights above the window seats.
The Sportage was decidedly midpack in this group when it came to cargo area, but 30.7 cubic feet of storage behind the second row is still plenty for most of the loads that will be thrown at it. Unlike half the SUVs in this test, the Sportage doesn't offer latches in the cargo area that make it easy to fold down the rear seats while standing at the rear of the vehicle.
The EPA rates the all-wheel-drive Sportage with the 2.4-liter engine as netting 21 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, for an overall combined rating of 23 mpg. But while that was the lowest EPA figure in the test, the Sportage actually finished mid-pack in our observed fuel economy. And the spread between the most and least efficient vehicles in our test works out to about $12 per month according to our observed figures, so fuel economy is not a big differentiator in the segment.
With a standout warranty and public perception that's catching up with the brand's documented quality rankings, we predict above average resale values for the 2017 Kia Sportage. What used to be a Kia shortcoming is becoming one of its key strengths.
Inside and Out Photo Gallery: 2017 Kia Sportage
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