2017 Kia Sportage SX FWD Review By John Heilig
THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig
The Auto Channel
MODEL: 2017 Kia Sportage SX FWD
ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed Sportmatic automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 240hp @ 6,000 rpm/260 lb.-ft. @ 1,450-3,500 rpm
WHEELBASE: 105.1 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 176.4 x 73.0 x 64.8 in.
CARGO: 20.7/60.1 cu. ft. (2nd row seat backs up/down)
ECONOMY: 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway/18.8 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 16.4 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,666 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Jeep Cherokee, Buick Encore, Honda CR-V
STICKER: $33,395 (includes $895 delivery)
BOTTOM LINE: Despite what is probably the most wimpy horn in the industry, the new Kia Sportage is quiet, efficient and comfortable, with very good handling and practicality.
While similar in appearance to its brother, the Hyundai Tucson, the all-new Kia Sportage has dramatic styling and a stiff chassis that makes driving and riding it a pleasure. Primary among the Sportage’s attributes is a quiet ride in nearly all circumstances. Our local roads are generally poorly surfaced, but that was no problem for the Sportage. Ride quality is good over almost all surfaces.
Handling is also very good, thanks to a fully independent rear suspension and a front suspension has stiffer wheel bearings and bushings for more precise handling. We took our tester over a tight hillclimb course, using the sequential manual feature of the 6-speed automatic transmission, and had a ball throwing the Sportage through the turns. There is little or no tendency to lean in corners at sensible speeds. Yes, I know it isn’t a sports car, but it was fun to drive sportingly anyway.
The D-shaped wheel is comfortable and is loaded with switches for audio, the information panel and cruise control. The switches are also clear, and once you figure out exactly where each switch is and how to use it, you can drive without taking your eyes off the road.
In addition, the Sportage is loaded with driver safety features. The blind spot monitor, for example, can detect vehicles as far as 230 feet behind for quick warnings. It’s a little testy when you flip the turn signal on even if you know there’s a vehicle there, but that’s better than not letting you know at all. Also, the Lane Departure Warning emits a loud beep whenever you stray from the straight and narrow.
Two of my favorite features are Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Front and Rear Parking Assist. RCTA alerts you to cars that may be coming at you as you are pulling out from a row of parked cars, like in a supermarket parking lot. FRPA lets you know that you are approaching an obstacle, like a parking lot cement barrier. I’m certain this saved a lot of underside dings. The Sportage is redesigned and the face is now one that I like. Surrounding the Kia grille are projection headlamps on each side. The headlamps are also positioned higher, sweeping back along the outer edges of the hood. Below the headlamps are four daytime running lights that give the Sportage a truck-like front fascia.
Inside, the front seats are comfortable with decent side support. We took the Sportage on a long ride and were relaxed and comfortable at the end. The bench-like rear seats offer very good leg room. Visibility in the rear is very good. In addition, the panoramic sunroof extends to the rear seats, so passengers back there can not only look left to right, but can enjoy the view above as well.
Behind the second row seats is a very good cargo area that doubles in capacity when the rear seat backs are folded flat. Not only are the seat backs easy to fold, there is no need to remove the head restraints to gain a flat floor. There is also storage in the rear footwells if needed. As a detail, the license plate mounting has been lowered, which results in a lower liftover height for the cargo area. Interior surfaces are all soft touch with a leather-like pattern. The instruments are clear round dials with an information panel between them that I kept at the digital speedometer setting. You have to work to get the other readings, so I suggest you do it while parked.
The infotainment panel is clear and large, unlike the Tucson. On startup, the screen is split, with a map on the left and audio on the right. Touching the proper side can revert to a 100 percent view. The navigation was easy to program. We used POI (Point of Interest) to locate several destinations and I could almost do it while driving.
You can’t not be impressed by the all-new Kia Sportage. It has adequate power and very good handling and ride quality to go with a new body. It’s a shame the designers also didn’t have input for the horn, which is the most pathetic sound I have heard in years.
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