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Review of: 2017 Kia Sportage AWD 4dr SX Turbo w/Black

7.1

2017 Kia Sportage: The good, the bad, and the ugly lights!

By Jil McIntosh

Jun. 14, 2017

Cute-utes are among the hottest segments in the Canadian market right now. That puts Kia in right in the thick of things as it rolls out a new, fourth-generation version of its Sportage compact SUV for 2017.

Three trim levels are available, beginning with the LX and EX. Both are powered by a direct-injection 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, and with starting prices of $24,895 and $30,495 respectively (starting at $27,195 if you want to equip your LX with optional all-wheel drive).

But I went top-of-the-line with my tester, the SX, which comes only in AWD and with an exclusive turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder. It’s priced at $39,595, with no further options other than extra-charge paint colours. Mine was coated thusly, bringing my tester to a total of $39,795 before freight and taxes.

Pros & Cons

  • + Rear seat comfort
  • + Strong brakes, great handling
  • + Styling
  • - Some odd exterior styling touches
  • - Heavy
  • - gas consumption
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  • Walkaround

    A new chassis with more high-strength steel stiffens this Sportage for better road manners and ride comfort, and it’s skinned with a handsomely-designed body that features Kia’s signature grille, just enough plastic cladding to go with the all-wheel cred, and a sharp-looking butt. The deeply-carved tailgate is power-operated on the EX Premium and up, with a “smart” feature that opens it automatically if you stand alongside it for a few seconds with the key in your pocket.

    Roof rails are available on the base LX as part of the all-wheel-drive add-on package, while the EX and up include power-folding mirrors and proximity key, and the EX Premium and SX include a panoramic sunroof.

    Still, with the caveat that taste is subjective, I’d love to know who signed off on what have to be the ugliest front lights glued to anything on the road. The headlight pods are stuffed with three different bulb designs, while the SX’s four “ice-cube” LED fog lights sit weird and uncovered in a pod, underscored by two equally odd chrome stripes.

    7.0Good
  • Interior

    Fortunately, no strange lights mar the cabin, with its simple, straightforward design. It looks good, although there are some wide sweeps of hard, textured plastic that would have felt more appropriate swapped out with soft-touch materials in a vehicle that’s just shy of $40,000.

    The EX and SX include a heated steering wheel, ten-way power driver’s chair, dual-zone automatic climate control, and auto-dimming rearview mirror, while the EX Tech package and the SX have heated and cooled seats. The sportier turbocharged SX’s engine also brings some sportier-style trim additions, such as the flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters, alloy pedals, stainless steel sill plates, and piano-black accents.

    The occupant part of the cabin is roomy both front and rear, and when I put two friends in the rear seats—one six-foot-four, the other barely five feet—both mentioned how easy it was to get in and out.

    The rear legroom sucks up some of the cargo space, though, and at 798 litres, it’s much less than many of its competitors. But to its credit, the Sportage provides rear seats that easily fold flat, and a movable cargo floor that can be lifted or lowered to maximize space, or to hide items below it.

    8.0Very good
  • Tech

    All trim levels come standard with a rearview camera, Bluetooth and satellite radio, while the EX and up add a larger centre screen and Android Auto, but no Apple CarPlay. The EX Technology and SX further add navigation, a Harman/Kardon premium sound system, and wireless phone charger.

    The navigation is easy to use, with voice recognition that lets you say the entire address, rather than speaking it out one line at a time.

    The Sportage can also be equipped with some higher-tech electronic nannies, and on top of the EX Premium’s blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert—which includes arrows to show you the direction the traffic is coming—the SX also adds a lane departure warning system and an emergency braking system if it looks like you’re not stopping for the vehicle in front.

    7.0Good
  • Driving

    While all other trims use a 2.4-litre four-cylinder making 181 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque, the SX is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-litre that produces 237 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, which peaks at a mere 1,450 rpm. Both are hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission.

    Despite the engine’s power, the SX is heavy and it doesn’t feel quick. Put your foot down and there’s a split second of hesitation before it takes off, winding smoothly through the gears. It’s not bad, just not as sporty as the numbers might suggest.

    It’s also relatively thirsty at a time when many sport-utes are making some decent strides in fuel economy. The published figures are 11.9 L/100 km in the city and 10.2 on the highway, and while I hit that 10.2 L/100 km on the nose in combined driving, I’ve been in several vehicles that undercut it.

    It’s hard to fault the handling, though, and despite the SX’s rather porcine 1,813-kilo curb weight, it feels nimble and, for a sport-ute, it’s nice and sharp around the corners. The brakes bite well, the suspension soaks up bumps for a quiet ride, and overall, it’s a well-balanced package.

    7.5Good
  • Value

    While Kia built its reputation on value for money, the Sportage can feel pricey, especially at its highest end. Its base sticker of $24,895 is more than you’ll pay for the lowest-priced Ford Escape, Chevrolet Trax, Mazda CX-3 or Mitsubishi RVR, for example.

    And at the higher end, with $39,595 for my SX tester, you’ll still pay less for the top-line trims of vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, and Jeep’s all-new version of its Compass. Even the Hyundai Tucson, a cousin to the Sportage, starts at $24,999 and tops out at $38,699.

    6.0Okay
  • Conclusion

    Overall, this makeover is a good one, and the Sportage emerges with good road manners and a comfortable, roomy cabin. But on the down side, it’s a bit pricey, and in a tightly-contested segment, it could do a bit better on fuel. Test-drive it, but look at the competition as well.

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