2015 Kia Sportage Review
By James Whitbourn, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $25,990Information
What stands out?Expand Section
What might bug me?Expand Section
What body styles are there?Expand Section
The Sportage drives either its front wheels or all four wheels, depending on the version. It is classed as a medium SUV, lower priced.
What features does every Sportage have?Expand Section
An iPod-compatible CD and radio system with auxiliary and USB input sockets, and speed-sensitive volume control (which gets louder to compensate for road noise). Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and steering wheel controls for the cruise control, audio and Bluetooth systems.
A trip computer that presents fuel use and distance information.
Wheels made from an alloy of aluminium, which are usually lighter and better looking than steel wheels with plastic covers, and a full-size alloy spare wheel.
Hill-assist control, which operates the brakes automatically to make take-offs on hills easier.
Static cornering lights on each side at the front: as you turn the steering wheel to enter a corner at night, these light up and illuminate your path. Front and rear foglights, and heated, power-adjusted, side mirrors.
Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; and a curtain airbag on each side protecting the heads of front and rear occupants.
Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
On automatic transmission versions, trailer stability control – which helps you straighten out a weaving load when towing.
Every Kia Sportage carries a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Expand Section
The main reason you might not choose this engine is that you want to pay less for a Sportage. The diesel is available only in the more expensive SLi or Platinum models, which also have an automatic gearbox as standard, and all-wheel-drive. And it costs about $3000 more than the alternative petrol engine in these.
However, in most driving conditions the four-cylinder turbo-diesel feels much more powerful than the other engine available in a Sportage, a 2.0-litre petrol which uses about 8.4 litres/100km.
The petrol engine comes with either a five-speed manual gearbox (only in the least costly model, the front-wheel drive Sportage Si), or a six-speed automatic. The diesel comes only with the six-speed automatic.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Expand Section
Wheels are an inch bigger at 17 inches, a change many will like for the sportier look. That goes with chrome doorhandle and waistline highlights. And there are roof rails, which allow the attachment of luggage systems. The cloth seats have real leather accents, and fake leather on wear-prone surfaces.
Spending more again on a Sportage SLi gets you all-wheel-drive and the option of the diesel engine. Dual-zone climate control lets you set different temperatures for each side of the cabin. Front parking sensors are added, and the audio system sounds better (thanks to an external amplifier and a sub-woofer.) There is a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, and satellite navigation.
The most costly Sportage, the Platinum, adds another inch to the wheel size and has a powered sunroof. There is keyless entry, which allows you to unlock the car with your key kept safely in a pocket or bag. The cabin is trimmed in a blend of real and fake leather. Front seats are heated, and the driver’s seat is power adjustable. Headlamps are very bright, auto-levelling HID types.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Expand Section
The Sportage Si and Si Premium do not have a touchscreen and so display the image from their reversing cameras on the interior rear-view mirror. This is a handy feature that you lose in the more expensive SLi and Platinum, which move the display to their upgraded multimedia systems. At least the image gets bigger.
Only white is a standard colour on the Sportage. The other six shades available carry an additional premium paint charge of about $500.
How comfortable is the Sportage?Expand Section
The Sportage cabin is roomy, with a great view of the road, and the instruments and controls are neatly and appealingly laid out. The interior is well built and finished using good quality plastics, fabric and carpet.
The Sportage rides more firmly than some alternative vehicles, but the ride is not so firm that it becomes tiring. The cabin is a quiet place, with little suspension, tyre or wind noise intruding.
What about safety in a Kia Sportage?Expand Section
Safety high points include the standard reversing camera, the emergency brake light flashing function, and the seatbelt warning chime and light for every seating position - a simple but valuable feature for those with children old enough to unfasten their belts.
(To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Kia Sportage its maximum five-star rating for safety.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Expand Section
The Sportage steers quickly and accurately, and the steering gives the driver a good feel for how much grip the tyres have on the road. Its quickness also means the Sportage is at home negotiating tight urban streets.
The handling in both front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions is well balanced. Adjustments to the accelerator, brakes and steering adjust this balance, which gives the driver a feeling of connection and control. This is a big part of why the Sportage feels so good to drive.
All-wheel-drive versions offer extra stability in slippery conditions, such as on gravel or wet roads. AWD medium SUVs are suited to only light off-road duty, such as snowy conditions or reasonably smooth dirt tracks, but the Sportage is among the best of this breed of vehicle, thanks to good ground clearance and the inclusion of a full-size spare wheel and tyre.
On the road, the firm suspension contains body roll and pitch, and helps make the handling responsive.
The turbo-diesel engine has as much as 90 per cent more oomph than the petrol at the low engine speeds used in a lot of normal urban driving – it is a much more desirable engine.
The petrol engine ordinarily offers enough performance, but it struggles when the car is loaded with passengers and luggage.
How is life in the rear seats?Expand Section
The view is good forward and out of the side windows, and the rear of the cabin is well isolated from tyre and suspension noise.
How is it for carrying stuff?Expand Section
A one-piece tailgate opens upwards to reveal a large opening, which makes it easy to load bulky items.
There are useful luggage net hooks, and a luggage net in versions from the Si Premium upwards.
Where does Kia make the Sportage?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning. The Mazda CX-5 offers these.
Other mid-sized SUVs worth considering include the Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester, and Mitsubishi Outlander.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?Expand Section
When did Kia update this Sportage?Expand Section
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