THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The content hits a home run.
- What’s Worst: Fuel economy is a bit of a disappointment.
- What’s Interesting: The turbocharged SX adds a touch of performance to this family-friendly vehicle.
Now entering its fourth generation for 2017, the Kia Sportage just keeps getting better.
The new model is roomier, loaded with features and classy looking all-round.
Not something one would have said about the original Sportage.
The Kia brand and the Sportage in particular have travelled a long way in a short period of time, thanks in part to design chief Peter Schreyer and his team.
As I have said before, Kias are long past the stage when they were the ‘ugly ducklings’ of the market, selling on price alone.
Credit Schreyer, who came to Kia from Audi in 2006 and is now design chief for both the Kia and Hyundai brands and also president of Kia.
Kia was once considered among the second tier of automotive brands, but today they are mentioned in the same breath as the best the world has to offer.
In fact, Kia as a brand has ranked highest in the J. D. Power Initial Quality study for two years running.
Today’s Kia is stylish and contemporary. Of course, styling is so subjective, but to my mind the 2017 Sportage may be the best looking vehicle in its class.
Sales figures show that the changes for 2017 are resonating well with Canadian buyers as deliveries of the Sportage were up nearly 40 percent in the first four months of the calendar year.
But despite all the pluses, the Sportage has to battle it out to even stay in the top 10 of the most competitive segment of the Canadian market.
Small crossover SUVs now account for nearly 20 per cent of the market and the Sportage joins 16 other competitors fighting for market share.
You have to be good to survive in this segment and the Sportage is good, particularly in the top-level SX trim that we tested.
There’s also a ‘but’ here, though, and it comes to price— as tested our vehicle maxed out at $39,595 ($41,635 when you throw in freight and other additional charges). This is not an insignificant sum when you’re talking about a compact crossover.
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But is it worth the money? That will be up to the buying public to decide, but we say yes particularly when you consider the content that comes in the SX.
Of course, there are a variety of other trims and models to choose from, starting with the LX and EX that boast a direct injection 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder engine, making 181 hp and 175 lb/ft of torque.
The SX, meanwhile, has a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, boasting 237 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque.
Front- or all-wheel-drive is available on all levels except the SX, which is all-wheel drive only. All models come with a six-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission, with paddle shifters on the SX only.
Natural Resources Canada posts fuel efficiency ratings of 10.4/8.0 L/100 km city/hwy for the 2.4L FWD and 11.3/9.5 for AWD. The 2.0L is rated at 11.9/10.2.
For 2017, the Sportage is slightly bigger than the previous generation — 30 mm (1.2 in) on the wheelbase and 41 mm (1.6 in) in body length.
Ride, handling and interior noise levels have been improved, in part because of greater use of high-strength steel, resulting in a 37 per cent increase in torsional rigidity.
The larger outside dimensions also translate into a more spacious interior, providing more head and legroom both front and rear.
Luggage space has increased, now 869 litres behind the second-row seats, up from 739 litres. With the second row folded flat, cargo space enlarges to 1,703 litres. One neat feature in the rear is a versatile dual-level cargo floor.
As usual, Kia packs a lot of features into the new Sportage.
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For example, Down Hill Descent Control is standard across the board. Now this is a feature that was once only offered on luxury SUVs and even today, is usually only available in upper-trim-level vehicles.
Standard on the SX are features like 19-inch alloy wheels, autonomous emergency braking, panoramic sunroof, Xenon HID headlights, directional adaptive headlights, LED fog lights, blind spot detection, lane departure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, eight-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation system, Harmon Kardon premium audio system, leather seating heated and cooled in front, and rear cross traffic alert.
This is also the first year for Kia to offer UV03, featuring Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a selection of other neat new services.
It’s quite a package and one sure to attract today’s buyers who want it all.
For those who don’t, there’s a package for everyone with prices starting at $24,895.
2017 Kia Sportage SX
BODY STYLE: compact crossover utility vehicle.
DRIVE METHOD: front engine, front- or all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder engine (181 hp, 175 lb/ft of torque); 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder (237 hp, 260 lb/ft of torque) with a six-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission and paddle shifters on the SX model.
CARGO CAPACITY: 869 litres behind second row, 1,703 litres with second row seats folded.
TOWING CAPACITY: 907 kg (2,000 lb).
FUEL ECONOMY: 2.4-litre FWD — 10.4/8.0 L/100 km city/hwy, AWD — 11.3/9.5; 2.0-litre, 11.9/10.2.
PRICE: $24,895 to $39,595, as tested $41,695 including freight and PDI.