Heels On Wheels: 2013 Kia Sportage Review

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2013 Kia Sportage

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Of the many the family vehicles on the market, the Kia Sportage comfortably owns the tagline of being a value-oriented compact crossover with well-rounded utility and style. Since its rebuild a few years ago, it has been steadily holding up against two fearsome competitors: the now-revised Toyota RAV4 and the crossover favorite Honda CR-V. Can it do the same for 2013?

I drove a 2013 Kia Sportage with the sportier 260-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with six-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission. Only available on the top-tiered SX trim (Base, LX, EX and SX), my test drive came with the following standard features: leather upholstery; dual-zone climate control; steering wheel controls; XM Radio; USB and auxiliary input jacks; Bluetooth connectivity; backup camera display; cooling glove box; dramatic black grille; more sophisticated gauge cluster; aluminum scuff plates; dual exhaust; and push-button start. Price as described came to $26,900.

Not much has changed for the 2013 model year nor needs to; some minor equipment gets added or shuffled around among trims, improving the entry-level models and tightening up optional packages.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: My test drive also featured a $1,200 navigation system with UVO Powered by Microsoft, Kia’s exclusive telematics system that streams phone and music through voice commands or a touchscreen; and a $2,000 premium package that added heated and cooled front seats, a panoramic sunroof and cargo cover. The Sportage touts a spacious, well-crafted interior that stands out better with the SX’s upgraded leather upholstery and dial-based climate controls. The center-stack’s technology is intuitive to use. Although the rear seats don’t recline, they are at a suitable angle for child seats, with my only quam being the tight build of the rear door requiring parents to squat just a little lower and shield heads when lifting toddlers safely into the back.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Sportage its highest ratings of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests, making it a Top Safety Pick. Standard safety features include an advanced airbag system, downhill brake assist, traction control, and electronic stability control.

Cost Issues: Base price for a Sportage starts at $19,000 with my fully loaded SX trim reaching $30,100. The Honda CR-v starts at $22,795. What’s refreshing about the revised Toyota RAV4 is the simple three-trim formula its adopted: The base LE trim starts at $23,300; the XLE trim at $23,300; and the fully loaded Limited tops out at $27,010.

Activity & Performance Ability: Unfortunately, the Sportage’s high appraisal for style and value stops there and doesn’t translate to performance. The 2-liter turbo engine was an anxious animal with an uneven distribution of power, and road noise quite noticeable at highway speeds. Excellent fuel economy is a clincher for this segment, yet the Sportage falls a few gallons short in comparison to what the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V can get with all-wheel drive. However, visibility from the Sportage’s elongated rear and rear-quarter windows save face, along with a generous turning radius.

The Green Concern: The fuel economy of 24 miles-per-gallon combined reflects two-wheel drive stats on the 2-liter – consumers should know all-wheel drive is an optional cost with results at 20-city and 27-highway for 23 combined with even lower overall estimates for SX’s 25-highway number. The Honda CR-V’s 2.4-liter with all-wheel drive gets 25 combined and the Toyota RAV4’s new all-wheel drive system gets the same.

The 2013 Kia Sportage reels drivers in with its sleek looks and accommodating cabin, but comes up a few fuel economy numbers short compared to two hot compact crossovers. The turbocharged 2-liter needs some tweaking to smooth things out – no doubt a challenge Kia will rise to in its quest to keep the RAV4 and CR-V out of the spotlight.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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