Compact crossover SUV’s are the hottest class in the car market, and the 2017 Kia Sportage we found is poised to take a big huge chunk of it. All-new for this year, the Sportage actually raises the bar for many of its peers in features, refinement, and value.
In testing the top-level 2017 Kia Sportage SX front-wheel drive model and its smooth and silky 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, we found a lot to like not only inside and behind the wheel but in its new styling.
Looking a lot like a Porsche Macan at first glance, its animalistic face has eyes that look at you, these HID light-bending lamps with LED driving lights. Down below in the fascia are “ice cube” LED fog lights. The look is anchored with Kia’s now family inspired dog-bone grille, here with sculpted inner grate.
The rear three-quarter view is alluring and sporting in its stance with LED tail lamps that wrap together in the middle with a chrome and red strip. A rear spoiler has depth that casts a good shadow too. Down below you’ll find dual exhaust tips of chrome.
Wheels in the SX are 19-inch alloys that fit well with the Sportage design theme. If you choose lower trim grades, you get alloys standard in either 17-inch or 18-inch sizes.
At $33,395 the Sportage SX is fully loaded with every major feature or package available. Inside that means leather seats heated and ventilated up front with power adjustment. There’s a heated steering wheel, power opening panoramic roof and push button start.
The front seats are very comfortable and supportive with good adjustment range, though there is no memory feature for the driver. Rear seats also offer plenty of comfort and space for two, a bit more tight for three. Rear seat backs recline and adjust too.
Those seats fold down for a near flat load floor and the rear floor can also be lowered an additional 2-inches for more space. Under that floor on our SX was a temporary spare tire but check your trim grade when shopping as some don’t include this.
Harman-Kardon sound from the 8-inch UVO touchscreen audio and navigation system was phenomenal. Its menus and touchscreen interface is a joy to use while driving, intuitive like they all should be. It also displays the backup camera better than most.
Powering the Kia Sportage is either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 181 horsepower or the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine found in our SX. This one has 240 horsepower in front-wheel drive with a well matched six-speed automatic transmission.
It offers ECO, Normal and Sport drive modes that all conspire to tailor the transmission and engine’s behavior to behave as such. In Sport mode you will enjoy quicker shifts that make the steering wheel paddle shifters a joy.
Power is impressive though not neck snapping with the 3,666 pound curb weight of the Sportage. The power band is comparable to a V6 engine with good torque throughout and minimal turbo lag.
The EPA rates the Sportage SX as tested at 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. In our week with it we achieved 23 mpg combined with a 50/50 mix of city and highway with the AC on at all times.
With a 1.5-inch longer wheelbase, the Kia Sportage chassis has gained several refinements as the brand continues its quest to offer the best German driving experience available from a Korean assembly plant. They have succeeded in besting most in class with a driving refinement and feel of quality, that can pass for BMW or Mercedes Benz.
The ride is quiet and supple, even free of wind noise usually associated with panoramic roofs. Steering feel is perfectly weighted and has a sharpness not expected in its class. Responsiveness and feedback in and out of curves is almost playful.
An IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2017, the Kia Sportage achieved a Good rating on their full battery of crash tests including the brutal small-overlap crash. It offers as an option or in this trim a superior rated crash prevention system as well.
When you combine all of these traits with a level of build quality that would not have been seen from Kia ten years ago let alone in its class we come away much impressed. The Kia Sportage offers more for your dollar feature for feature in its class than most, and some things they don’t at any price.
We were impressed enough, the 2017 Kia Sportage makes our highest praise and is added to our “Id Buy It” list.