Five First Impressions: 2017 Kia Sportage

Among the mob of compact SUVs, the 2017 Kia Sportage stands out even if it isn’t painted in gold.

And now that these kinds of vehicles make up an enormous chunk of new-car sales around the world, the better they stand out the better they are in my book. Many of the Sportage’s competitors have given me the impression they are good cars, but far from great ones and about as memorable as the Phoenix airport.

I’ve been driving the 2017 Sportage SX Turbo for a few days now. Here are my first thoughts ahead of a full review.

Advancing by a nose
Shortly after getting on the road, I pulled up alongside another Sportage that looked a lot like the one I was driving. Except it was actually the previous model. The 2017 Sportage looks like it’s just a refinement over the old one from the rear. Which is fine, since the Peter Schreyer-designed model that had been around since 2010 still looked pretty fresh by the end of its run.

But up front, the new nose definitely divides opinion. It looks like a Sportage that’s pushing its nose in with its own thumb. Other people seem to like that, however. It’s less SUV-ish, which is also appealing to some.

The color it wears
Also divisive is the color, which looks gold, but is actually called Burnished Copper. I haven’t made my mind up about it yet, but it does go some way to mitigate the more garish detailing on the car, like the quad fog lights. As I’ve already determined a Sportage is a way to stand out among the CR-V/RAV4/Escape crowd, though, Burnished Copper isn’t a bad way to go.

Gold case

A photo posted by Zac Estrada (@zacestrada)” style=”font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px;”>Apr 17, 2016 at 12:49pm PDT

My God, it’s quick
This Sportage SX Turbo is equipped with a 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four. It wasn’t the motor I expected when this compact SUV was delivered to me, as the 2.4-liter engine with 181 horses that comes in lesser Sportages is more typical of the motivation its rivals receive. There’s a burst of energy from this turbo in an old-school way, unlike a lot of small-displacement units that have emerged in recent years. And it makes the Sportage more exciting than a lot of similar vehicles. There will be a price to pay for all of this, however.

Plush versus power
Aside from the engine, however, the Sportage isn’t that sporty. The interior is set up for comfort, with comfortable rather than aggressive leather seats. Even with the 19-inch wheels, the ride is fairly soft. And the steering is low effort (and devoid of feel). Yet it’s all relatively quiet, too, meaning the Sportage SX Turbo should be good when loaded with four adults and their luggage and trying to climb a grade. Despite the adventurous styling and enormous glass roof on this example, there’s space inside comparable to popular crossovers like the Mazda CX-5.

It’s a Kia, and that’s a good thing
Add the $1,500 all-wheel drive and you get a lot for your $34,895. That huge sunroof, power tailgate, keyless entry and start, heated and cooled front seats, front and rear parking sensors, etc. This continues to be a pleasing hallmark of the brand.

Even if you’ve spent time in recent Kia products, the Sportage is surprisingly well-equipped for the money and oozes lots of quality. It’s shaping up to be one of my favorite compact SUVs of the moment.

But what questions do you have? Sound off in the comments.

Photos: Estrada

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  • Maykel


  • ediotsavant

    Why in awd trim does the Sportage take a huge hit in mpg? The turbo is rated 20/23 down from 21/26 and the non turbo drops from 23/30 in fwd trim to 21/25 in awd.

    • danno

      Extra weight of the AWD system of about 200 lbs costs MPG and, even though the vehicle runs mostly as a FWD SUV, you do lose MPG due to the power train rotational, and friction losses.

      • ediotsavant

        But the competing cuvs like the CRV, RAV4, CX5 and others are not that affected. 1-2 drop in MPG and that’s it. Not as dramatic as the Sportage and it’s equivalent the Tucson.

        • danno

          Yes, those systems are not as advanced where traction is paramount. Can’t link a website, but do a search for “autos dot ca” and then Santa Fe reviews. You will find a review done by Justin Pritchard on Jan. 8 2014, called Santa Fe vs. Snowstorm.
          The AWD system is explained in detail. Same AWD system in this 2017 as the 2014 SF review.

  • Thomas Müller

    The design of this Sportage is less agresive and powerfull.. I see it very girly. The back is well designed though, but the interior seems low cost, with poor atention to details.

    I rather buy a RAV4 Hybrid with 200 horse power, paying a bit more, or a Tucson if I want a cheap good looking SUV not too powerfull.

    • TOMSON

      OMG please check the RAV4´s interior at your dealer and then write down this again….The RAV4 has the most hideous interior out there on earth! Even the Chinese do a better job today!

      • Out of interest I just Googled Rav4 interior – OMG that’s one awful interior, you’re bang on there. And what the hell is up with that digital clock on the dash!!!

        • TOMSON

          Hell yes, thanks, I don´t know which supplier still manufactures digital clocks for cars??? WTF?!

      • dumblikeyou2

        I like the dashboard on the RAV4 especially for a wannabe truck. It doesn’t conform to that ear-o-gone-nam-ik centerstack look that every boringass automobile has going on today. Who the hell said dashboards can’t be designed horizontally anyway? Give it up for Toyota for not giving a shit what the sheeple think.

        • And if you press and hold the small rubber button with a cocktail stick, the hour increases. Press the other rubber button and the minutes change. Hours of fun to be had 🙂

          • dumblikeyou2

            Admit it, you were drunk when you wrote this and as you’re reading this response, you’re drunk right now.

          • But the best part is, when you press and hold the little rubber button the hours change slowly at first then get progressively faster the longer you hold it. Its a great time saving feature and should be on every car makers options list.

          • dumblikeyou2

            That’s great admitting to needing a little rubber, more power to you, but is it best to have that beer early in the morning like Sheryl Crow says, or do you need to go straight for the hard stuff to sustain?

    • Any car that has a digital clock on its dash needs to be set alight. Rav4 included 🙂

      • Obsequious Lickspittle

        It’s the last thing I’m looking at driving the BRZ.

      • TOMSON

        I´ll go all the way with you!!

  • john1168

    How was your gas mileage? Rumor has it it’s awful…

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