2020 Kia Sportage review
By James Whitbourn, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $28,190Information
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 Kia Sportage have?Expand Section
LED daytime running lights, headlights that switch on automatically when it’s getting dark and dim the high beam lamps when another car is approaching, and front fog-lamps.
Rain-sensing windscreen wipers, and heated, power-adjusted side mirrors.
Roof rails, which make it easier to attach luggage systems. Shark fin antenna.
Colour touchscreen, and auxiliary and USB input sockets. Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, which lets you display smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice). Sound system with at least six speakers.
Active safety features including autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist.
Controls on the steering wheel for operating the cruise control, the sound system and Bluetooth.
An automatic transmission. A trip computer that presents fuel use and distance information.
Auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing windscreen wipers.
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
Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, this is a very good engine and you can get it in any version of the Sportage that has all-wheel drive. In most driving conditions, it feels as though it has much more performance than the petrol-engined versions.
The main reason you might not choose the diesel is that you want to pay less for a Sportage, by choosing front-wheel drive and the 2.0-litre petrol engine offered in the cheaper S, SX, and SX Plus versions.
You may also want a more affordable six-speed manual transmission, available with the petrol Cerato S and SX.
The AWD diesels cost about $7000 more than their FWD 2.0-litre petrol six-speed automatic counterparts.
The 2.0-litre petrol uses about 7.9 litres/100km.
The more powerful alternative to the diesel in the more expensive Sportage GT-Line is a bigger, 2.4-litre petrol engine. It uses about 8.5 litres/100km but gives you about 20 per cent more power than the smaller petrol – and, like the diesel, it is all-wheel-drive only.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Expand Section
For extra features, you could spend more for a Sportage SX, which like the S is available with the manual and auto the 2.0-litre petrol with front-wheel drive, and the more costly 2.0-litre diesel all-wheel drive. Inside, you get a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation so you don’t have to rely on a phone app, digital radio (DAB+), and a premium JBL eight-speaker premium sound system. LED daytime running lights make you more visible to other traffic, and front parking sensors augment those at the rear. The wheels also are bigger; 18 inches, a change some may like for the sportier look.
Paying more again for an SX Plus gets you those features, leather/fake leather accents on all seats, and 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. An electric park brake switch frees up space on the centre console, and you can unlock the car and drive away without removing the smart key from your pocket or bag. The tail-lights too use LEDs, and tyre pressure monitors warn you if a tyre is going flat. Windows from behind the front seats are tinted. If you wait behind the tailgate for a few seconds while carrying the smart key, it automatically opens.
The GT-Line, the most expensive Sportage, has all-wheel drive as standard and either the diesel or the bigger 2.4-litre petrol engine. Wheels are bigger, at 19 inches, the tyres are a little wider for more grip, 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 automatically opens.
The active safety suite gains blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert. Active cruise control keeps the Sportage a set distance behind the car in front and will stop and start at low speeds, and the parking assist system can steer the GT-Line into a parking spot.
The GT-Line also stands out with a “Sports Package” exterior with enhanced front and rear bumper design and satin silver side sills. Headlights are extremely bright, auto-levelling bi-xenon globes with washers, and the fog-lamps are longer lasting LEDs.
Inside, the front seats on a Sportage GT-Line are heated and ventilated, and the front passenger’s seat is also power-adjustable. A panoramic sunroof adds to the cabin ambience. There are gear-shift paddles mounted on the flat-bottom steering wheel. Compatible phones can charge wirelessly on the centre console.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Expand Section
Clear White is a standard colour on the Sportage. The other six shades carry a premium paint charge of about $500.
How comfortable is the Kia Sportage?Expand Section
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 Sportage cabin remains a very quiet place, with little suspension, tyre or wind noise intruding: it is among the most peaceful cabins in its class.
What about safety in a Kia Sportage?Expand Section
The autonomous braking can initiate a full emergency stop automatically from speeds up to 80km/h if the system senses 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.)
There’s also a standard reversing camera and a 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 adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert that detects if a vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian is approaching from the side while the SUV is reversing.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the current-generation 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 hits a big bump on the road.
All-wheel-drive versions offer more 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-size spare wheel, and its downhill brake control system, which can regulate your speed automatically on steep downhill runs 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 S, SX, and SX Plus. 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 diesel 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 seats offer good back, under-thigh and lateral support, with enough headroom even for adults. Cushions are comfortable, and the leather and cloth trim options feels like they will wear well. The 60:40 split seat’s 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.
Rear-seat passengers have their own heating and cooling vents, located behind the centre console.
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 SX upwards.
Where does Kia make the Sportage?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
Other mid-sized SUVs worth considering include the Mazda CX-5, Jeep Compass, Renault Koleos, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4.
The Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander both 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
For the 2017 model year, Kia added support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (earlier cars could be retro-fitted), and renamed the Platinum trim level the GT Line. About April 2017 the Si Premium arrived to enhance choice in front-drive Sportages.
A mid-cycle facelift for the Sportage arrived in mid-2018 and rolled out autonomous emergency braking across the range beyond just the GT Line, and added a diesel AWD option to the Si Premium spec. The cabin was revamped and the chassis and suspension were further enhanced to suit Australian conditions.
Kia changed some of the badge names in early 2019, with the Si, Si Premium and SLi respectively re-designated the S, SX and SX+.
In September 2019 Kia added a six-speed manual gearbox option to the S and SX, which helped bring the entry-level retail price of the Sportage under $30,000.
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