Heels On Wheels: 2013 Kia Sportage Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE SPORTAGE VEHICLE
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.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
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.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
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