Our time with the redesigned 2017 Sportage proved that Kia knows where it’s going in the compact crossover market.
As you’d expect, the Sportage is price competitive: its three trim levels start with the LX at $23,885, including Kia’s $895 destination charge. One step above is the $26,395 EX, which adds items like leather seating, a USB 2.1 charging port and push-button start.
The EX also brings with the availability of options from which the LX is excluded – panoramic roof, heated outside mirrors, LED interior lighting, an auto-dimming interior mirror with HomeLink, etc. Specifying the LX means a commitment to parsimony, with no out through the options list.
Then there’s the one we drove, the $33,395 SX Turbo.
This top trim has strong visuals – 19-inch wheels, glossy black grille insert and interior trim, metal door scuff plates and alloy pedals – and that bold look backed up by an extra 59 horsepower from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four (240 hp vs. 181 hp for the LX and EX).
All Sportages have a six-speed automatic transmission, but the SX’s first three gears are tuned for stronger acceleration. You’ll also find paddle shifters behind the SX’s steering wheel spokes.
All Sportage trims are available with all-wheel drive for an extra $1,500.
Inside, taller people will delight to the lower driver’s cushion that tilts up for plenty of thigh support and a resulting buckety feel. The bluff-faced instrument panel is a specific styling choice, as it contributes to an intimate feel, but the Sportage is still roomy all around.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are optional in the LX, and they’re standard in the EX and SX Turbo.
The rear seat is nicely accommodating, as headroom and legroom were unencumbered for your 6’1″ tester, even with the Sportage SX’s panoramic roof.
Note the thick roof pillars behind the rear seat; it’s there where the Sportage’s kinky styling exacts a blind-spot price.
Speaking of styling, the Sportage has its own unique flourishes and a pleasingly tensed-up greenhouse, but it still falls right in line with the current crossover trends, most notably in the augmented lower bumper area, with lights and a faux skid plate drawing your eye down to frame the Sportage in a more substantial light.
Cargo space is on the lower end of compact crossovers capacities: its 30.7 cubic feet with the back seats raised isn’t far off from the Chevrolet Equinox’s 31.5 cubic feet, and the Kia’s 60.1 cubic feet with the seats folded is less than four cubic feet off the Chevy’s.
The cargo dimensions suffer a bit more when compared to the Toyota RAV4, though – the RAV4 outsizes the Kia by almost eight cubic feet with the seats up, and the Toyota’s advantage spreads to almost 13 cubic feet with the seats folded.
That’s not an inconsiderable difference; the RAV4 packs enough cargo room to stuff in the capacity of the seats-down Sportage and the trunk of a Ford Fiesta sedan.
But, the RAV4 packs that capacity into a boxier shape, while the Sportage’s limned-in body contours seem sleeker. The trade-offs are clear, whatever your priorities, and it’s another sign that Kia has a certain plan for the Sportage.
We’ll try to get this Sportage SX Turbo back for a video review – its supportive driving position alone encourages us to grab the Sportage’s wheel again, and its relative distinctness is welcomed.
We’ll keep you posted, and be sure to watch for updates on that blue Volvo V60 Polestar that replaced the Sportage for review.
Looking for a 2017 Sportage? Start here with BestRide.com’s local listings.