2017 Kia Sportage
by John Davis
The Kia Sportage was one of the brand’s vehicles to be sold in America. It began as a cobbled together, rough-and-ready, rear-drive based, 4x4 mini-ute. Now, as a 4th generation bows, it has become a stylish, sophisticated, feature-packed crossover.
Still, big success in the compact crossover ranks has eluded Sportage. It’s still largely the RAV4, CRV, Rogue and Escape’s domain. But, Kia hopes to change that with the all-new 2017 Kia Sportage.
Right off we’re happy to say we like the made over exterior, with an unmistakable Porsche Macan influenced shape, yet still retaining kindship with the larger Kia Sorento. That’s especially true at the front end, with its pinched grille and high-mounted slant-back headlights.
We’ve taken a shine to the Sportage’s interior design as well. The primo SX trim looks fabulous, while even lesser grades appear richer than class average. There’s a myriad of controls, as well as the available UVO 8-inch touchscreen. Yet Kia delivers everything you need in a clean, flowing, easy to use design. Steering wheel controls also rate very well, and the wheel itself has a beefy feel to it. Plus, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available on EX trim and above.
There’s both good room and adequate seat comfort up front for adults, and an increase in overall size allows for additional space for the rear seat passengers too. Cargo space, however, still trails segment leaders RAV4 and CRV at 30.7 cu-ft. with the rear seat backs up; and 60.1 cu-ft with them folded.
This Sportage is based on a new chassis that is notably stiffer, so road feel is proportionally more solid; and easily more agile feeling than its main rivals.
But’s it’s all very Kia under the hood. Base engine is a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter I4. The engine upgrade is a 2.0-liter turob-4 with 240-horsepower. We previously found the turbo to have more than adequate power for moving big brother Sorento, making our test Sportage feel like a smooth rocket.
Both engines connect to a 6-speed automatic transmission, in front or all-wheel drive. Kia’s Magna Dynamax AWD system places as much priority on improving handling as it does getting you through slick conditions.
Despite its continued refinement over the years, the fact that the Sportage has been unable to become a major player in the compact crossover segment is due more to the myriad of stiff competition than any shortfalls. Regardless, there’s not much about the 2017 Kia Sportage that’s rough anymore; it looks like the 4th time’s ready to be the charm!
For our exclusive test of the 2017 Kia Sportage, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3542 that begins airing on June 24, 2016. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.