By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
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)
By duker218 on Monday, June 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,050overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun, looks good, many features, compact design"
Cons: "winter road handling, mpg s/b better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"It's a very nice small SUV, "a cute ute" with a lot of bells and whistles and decent mpg. It has been good to me, no issues...and the maneuverability, handling and overall appearance is nice. It is limited in rear cargo space and towing capability, so I can't imagine really using this to do anything off-road or adventurous. It's a 4-banger which is great for commuting and everyday errands. Have to say the traction in winter is bad...could be the 18" rims and low profile tires but I say it just not a good winter vehicle. Yet overall, better than average vehicle. For the right location and right person, it will be perfect."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By PEB on Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,650overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Style, comfort and adjustability, accessories"
Cons: "could be quieter. 23,000 miles and need new tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been exceptionally happy with the Sportage. Perfect size for me, enough cargo space. Like the adjustable height in the driver's seat as well as the heated/cooled front seats. Comfortable on long trips. Leather package holding up well. Is a little noisier than my previous vehicle which was a sedan. Very sharp looking, 3 years old and I still get positive comments from strangers. Panoramic sun roof MPG as advertised"
13 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Jada on Saturday, May 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"2012 Sportage EX AWD with premium package. I’ve owned the car for about four months now and love it overall – makes me enjoy driving more again. A few positives: looks, peppy, tight turn ratio, smooth riding (except speed bumps). I get ave. 23-25 mpg and 26-38 mpg highway-only. Front seats are not uncomfortable, but could be slightly more “cushy”. I have to say the biggest irritation with the car is oddly the steering wheel position – at its farthest it does not come down near low enough for me and I am an average 5’6 125lbs. It is a very oddly frustrating thing they missed in this design flaw; if I sit with the seat in the right position for the wheel, my head is almost touching the roof nor far from the pillar and I don’t feel safe. If I sit at a comfortable level from the roof, the steering wheel is so high it feels like attempting to drive a bus. It lessens my steering ability ease and quickness, which would be more dangerous in a jam. I have already noticed a hindrance a few times. Other negatives, in order of importance: (1) solid front corner, back corner, and rear blind spots (even with convex stick-on mirrors) (2) very low paint quality not made to last for the long-term: looks good, but there is only 36k on my car and a PLETHORA of small dings and chips over the entire front of the car. My 120k mile, 14-year-old Mustang didn’t even have those. (3) The premium sound does not contain speakers nor produce sound most would consider “premium” and what one expects to receive when purchasing this option for a reason. I believe all they did was add more speakers and an amp, leading to (4) there is absolutely no sound leveling, so the bass level between one song to the next is atrocious and impossible not to notice, even if the volume is not up high. One will thump you out of the car and the next song you couldn’t hear bass if you have it at 100%; disturbing. Also, the only thing I have found that does not function on the vehicle – is the speed-based-volume. (5) There is a noise coming from my steering wheel that is only noticed when first starting the car and pulling out – sounds like something simple like plastic or external materials rubbing when turning the wheel, but who am I to say it isn’t something more serious. (6) I am a woman I found that the gas pedal is dangerous while wearing heels (again, something that never existed with the Mustang. My heels slides on the plastic piece attached to the bottom of the pedal, forcing me to take them off to drive; I have carpeted what I could, but still don’t feel is a non-issue as was in previous car. (7) Sometimes somewhere between 1st and 3rd gear the car acts like it’s not sure what it wants to do so stutters, or more accurately – it feels like when you shift a stick shift of a truck into gear. Has only been minor so far – hoping it stays a non-issue. (8) The back seat does not recline nor move. Appears they added this feature on the new models. Cheapness: The first test-drive, I passed on the car solely because my logic was if the interior felt this cheap (mainly the dash and hollow “handles” surrounding the cup holders), that doesn’t reassure me that the mechanics are not the same and this car will last me over the years. I still have a concern for this for the future because after purchasing the car, I found that I can bend in both the front and back bumper areas with my fingers. WOW; talk about solid. ?! However, even with those drawbacks (could also do without the entirely-glass roof - gives me anxiety), I still really like the vehicle. As long as nothing major changes, I could definitely keep this long term."
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By tbooth71 on Saturday, May 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great feeling machine. fantastic value"
Cons: "cant complain about a thing"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Owned this vehicle for a week now. Second KIA I've owned in the past year. First one was a Soul 2U 2010. No real issues with it. Decided to jump into a new KIA. The sportage with the GDI 2.4 and a 6 speed stick is very peppy! If you're light footed the fuel economy is acceptable (at around 10 l per 100 km) Great feel while driving. Everything is tight and performs at a level above what you might expect for the dollar amount. I would definitely recommend looking into a KIA product and doing a comparison. Extremely happy with my purchase"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By anat on Friday, April 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Nothing other than routine maintenance required on it. Reliable. Here in mountains of PA, the weather/roads get slippery in the winter. Did not do well (even with AWD) until I placed winter tires on it and it then went like a tank. Gas mileage decent also."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By bohemian1117 on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, comfortable seats, great value"
Cons: "not very good speakers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my second Kia Sportage, and I would definitely but it again. Very good value for the money. The only "problem" I ever seen so far is not very good speakers. I would certainly buy different car if I had bigger budget, but for this price, I cannot see better deal."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful