2017 Kia Sportage Review
By James Whitbourn, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $28,990Information
What stands out?Expand Section
What might bug me?Expand Section
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?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 Kia Sportage have?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
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?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 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?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
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?Expand Section
Are there plans to update the Sportage soon?Expand Section
A mid-cycle facelift for the Sportage could be expected about 2019.
Medium SUV under $45K: Australia’s Best Value Cars
If you want the space of an SUV, without the premium price tag, then check out the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and the Hyundai Tucson.
Medium SUV $45K to $65K: Australia’s Best Value Cars
If you want it all: the label, the space, and all the tackle then the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Range Rover Evoque are worth a look.
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