2017 Kia Sportage Review

2017 Kia Sportage SLi

Priced From $28,990Information

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

3 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProStrong diesel; great to drive; roomy; auto braking available.

  2. ConPetrol engines short on power.

  3. The Pick: 2017 KIA Sportage SLi (AWD) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Kia Sportage is a great looking mid-sized SUV that is comfortable and very quiet to ride in, and a lot of fun to drive. Diesel Sportages have more than enough power with terrific economy, and all Sportages do a lot with your smartphone. Kia’s seven-year warranty is the best available.

What might bug me?

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You might wish for more grunt in the 2.0-litre petrol versions – especially if you have driven the diesel.

If your prime format for recorded music is the Compact Disc, you’re out of luck: the Sportage no longer supplies a CD player.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door wagon only.

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 Kia Sportage have?

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Air-conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, and a rear view camera.

Headlights which switch on automatically when it’s getting dark, front foglights, and heated, power-adjusted, side mirrors. Roof rails, which make it easier to attach luggage systems.

An iPhone-compatible MP3/radio system, with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen and auxiliary and USB input sockets. Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming. From 2017, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice).

Controls on the steering wheel for operating the cruise control, the sound system and Bluetooth.

Automatic transmission. 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.

Downhill Brake Control, which can regulate speed automatically on steep downslopes when driving off road.

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.

Every Kia Sportage carries a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine uses the least fuel, at 6.8 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

This is a very good engine, and you can get it in just about any Sportage – but only with all-wheel drive. In most driving conditions, it feels much more powerful than either of the other engines available, both of which run on petrol.

The main reason you might not choose this engine is that you want to pay less for a Sportage, by choosing front-wheel drive and the 2.0-litre petrol engine offered with the less costly Si, Si Premium, and SLi versions. The AWD diesels cost about $5000 more than their FWD 2.0-litre petrol counterparts.

The 2.0-litre petrol uses about 7.9 litres/100km on the test.

The alternative to the diesel in the more expensive Sportage GT Line is a bigger, 2.4-litre, petrol. It uses about 8.5 litres/100km (on the test) but gives you about 20 per cent more power than the smaller petrol – and like the diesel is all-wheel drive only.

Every Sportage comes with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Sportage, the Si, has cloth seats, 17-inch wheels, and the features of every Sportage. You can have it with the 2.0-litre petrol engine and front-wheel drive, or the diesel engine and all-wheel drive (which aids security on loose or slippery surfaces).

If you were happy with front-wheel drive but wanted a bit more luxury, you could spend more for a Sportage Si Premium, which is available only with the 2.0-litre petrol. That would get you dual-zone climate control, which lets you set different ventilation temperatures for each side of the cabin, and satellite navigation. The windscreen wipers switch on automatically when it’s raining, and long-lasting LEDs illuminate daytime running lights that make you more visible. Front parking sensors augment those at the rear. And the wheels are bigger, at 18 inches, a change many will like for the sportier look.

Paying more again for an SLi gets you those features, leather or fake-leather accents on all seats, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. You can unlock the car and drive away without removing the smart key from your pocket or bag. The taillights too use LEDs, and tyre pressure monitors warn you if a tyre is going flat. Rear-cabin windows are tinted against sun penetration. And you regain the option of a diesel engine and AWD.

With the most expensive Sportage, the GT Line, you get all-wheel drive as standard and can choose either the diesel or the bigger of the petrol engines. Wheels are an inch bigger again, at 19 inches, tyres are a little wider, for more grip on dry roads, and the suspension is firmer, bringing more precise handling. If you wait behind the tailgate for a few seconds while carrying the smart key, it rises automatically. A parking assist system can steer the car into a parking spot.

The front seats on a Sportage GT are heated and ventilated, and the passenger’s seat too power-adjusts. Overhead is a power-opened sunroof. There are paddle gear shifters, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Compatible phones can be charged wirelessly on the centre console. Headlights are extremely bright, auto-levelling, bi-Xenon types with washers.

The Sportage GT Line also brings you a suite of active safety features. The highlight is radar-based forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, which works at city and highway speeds. This warns you of an obstacle in front of the car – typically a slower vehicle – and brakes automatically if you do not react. A blind-spot monitor warns you of nearby vehicles that you can’t see, and another system warns if you drift out of your lane – a sign of fatigue. Headlamps dip automatically for oncoming vehicles at night.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Ride at low speeds gets slightly rougher as the wheel size rises from 17 inches, on the Sportage Si, to 18 inches, on the Si Premium and SLi, and then to 19 inches on the GT Line - which also has firmer, sports suspension. The bigger wheels use lower profile tyres, which leave less rubber and air cushioning you from the road.

Only Clear White is a standard colour on the Sportage. The other six shades available carry an premium paint charge of about $500.

How comfortable is the Kia Sportage?

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It is easy to get comfortable in the driver’s seat of a Sportage: you can adjust it manually in six dimensions (unless you have a Sportage SLi or GT Line, whose powered seats adjust 10 ways for the driver and eight for the passenger). You can also move the steering wheel further from you or bring it closer, and adjust it for tilt.

The Sportage cabin is roomy, with a great view of the road. Instruments and controls are laid out neatly. The interior is very well built, and is 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 current Sportage, introduced in February 2016, feels more comfortable and smoother than the car it replaced. The Sportage cabin remains a very quiet place, with little suspension, tyre or wind noise intruding: it is among the most peaceful of cabins in cars of this kind.

What about safety in a Kia Sportage?

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Safety high points in a Sportage include the standard reversing camera and the seatbelt warning for every seat - a simple but valuable feature for those with children old enough to unfasten their belts. Dusk-sensing headlights, six airbags and the mandatory stability control complete an excellent standard package.

The Sportage GT Line adds radar and camera based auto braking, lane-drift warning, and a blind spot alert. The autonomous braking can initiate a full emergency stop automatically from speeds up to 80km/h, if the system concludes you are in danger of driving into something. First it sounds a warning; if you ignore that, it applies the brakes partially; and if you do not intervene it applies maximum braking. (At speeds between 80 and 180km/h it warns and brakes partially, but it will not brake as hard as possible on its own.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the current Kia Sportage at five stars for safety, its maximum, in April 2016.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Yes. The Kia Sportage is among the most enjoyable compact SUVs available.

The electrically assisted power steering feels just right. The Sportage is easy to steer but brings you a good sense of connection with the road, which is satisfying and inspires confidence.

A three-step Drive Mode Select system lets you adjust the weight of the steering. It also adjusts how immediately the car reacts to your pressure on the accelerator pedal, through the engine and auto gearbox. There are relaxed Normal and Eco modes, and an aptly named Sport mode.

The Sportage has quite firm suspension, which helps it respond quickly to steering inputs and to corner with relatively little body roll. The firmness also prevents the body from bobbing on the springs after the car accommodates big bumps in the road.

This Sportage, introduced about February 2016, preserves the driver-pleasing nature of the previous car. It differs mainly in feeling smoother and more comfortable, and that comes at no cost to the model’s balanced handling and hint of sportiness.

All-wheel-drive versions offer extra stability in slippery conditions, such as on gravel or wet roads. Even with AWD, most medium SUVs are suited to only light off-road duty, such as snowy conditions or reasonably smooth dirt tracks. But the Sportage remains one of the best of this breed, thanks to good ground clearance, its full-sized spare wheel, and its downhill brake control system, which can regulate your speed automatically on steep downhills off road (leaving you free to concentrate on steering).

The turbo-diesel engine available with any AWD Sportage has a lot more grunt than the 2.0-litre petrol, and in many driving conditions feels much more responsive than even the 2.4-litre petrol (the 2.4 petrol winds up to equal it if you hold your foot to the floor). The diesel is easily the most desirable engine of the three.

The 2.0 petrol comes with front-wheel drive versions of the Sportage Si and SLi (and the Si Premium). Ordinarily it offers enough pull, but when it’s asked to accelerate hard, carry a heavy load or climb a steep hill, it makes much harder work of it than the diesel you get with AWD versions. The 2.4 petrol, available with the AWD Sportage GT Line, works very well in most driving but still can’t match the diesel.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Rear seating in the Sportage is among the roomiest in a compact SUV. The seats offer good back, under-thigh and lateral support, with enough headroom. Cushions are comfortable, and the leather and cloth trim options feels like they will wear well. The backrest adjusts for angle in seven steps.

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?

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The Sportage is good at carrying lots of luggage, thanks to a 466 litre cargo bay. This expands to 1455 litres with the 60/40 rear seatbacks folded down.

A one-piece tailgate lifts 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 SLi upwards.

Where does Kia make the Sportage?

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The Kia Sportage is manufactured in Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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A more powerful, turbocharged petrol engine, which alternatives such as the Ford Escape, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, and Hyundai Tucson offer.

Perhaps more cost-efficient access to autonomous emergency braking: it is standard on every Mazda CX-5, for example.

Other mid-sized SUVs worth considering include the Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander, both of which can seat seven people.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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Our reviewers like the Kia Sportage SLi diesel. The diesel is desirable for its effortless acceleration and low fuel use, and the added versatility of all-wheel drive. The SLi brings you a lot of desirable extra equipment over the (still well equipped) Sportage Si diesel.

Are there plans to update the Sportage soon?

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This fourth generation Kia Sportage arrived about February 2016, sourced from Kia’s Korean homeland – rather than Slovakia, where its predecessor was built. It brought more comfort, a nicer appearance and more features, including the extension of a 7.0-inch touchscreen to the less costly models. Radar-based automatic braking and other active safety aids, and a bigger petrol engine, were introduced for the Sportage Platinum only. For the 2017 model year, Kia added support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (earlier cars could be retro-fitted), and renamed the Platinum trim level GT Line. About April 2017 the Si Premium arrived to enhance choice in front-drive Sportages.

A mid-cycle facelift for the Sportage could be expected about 2019.