The fourth generation, 2017 Kia Sportage jumps into the most competitive market in Canada, the SUV/CUV/Crossover market. With no end in sight to the popularity of this class, the all-new Sportage’s redesign is well timed. While they’re still projecting “the power to surprise” on Canadian drivers, sales have slightly slumped over the past few years. Then again, when you have Peter Schreyer (of previous Audi fame) at the helm, you know that something great is coming to combat that.
With Honda's CR-V, Nissan's Rogue, Toyota's Rav 4 and Mazda's CX-5 leading the pack, the new Sportage should have them constantly looking in their rear view mirrors.
The Sportage I would test for a week was picked up in the Kia Canada head office parking lot, painted in an unmistakeable modern bronze paint job. The front end of my top of the line SX Turbo tester was framed by HID Xenon, directionally adaptive headlights along with fog lights that come as four separate bulbs per light. There are bar shaped LED tail lights for an equally impressive look.
There’s that good ol’ tiger shark nose, available 19” wheels that look gorgeous and fill out the wheel well nicely and the overall design lines give a feel of athleticism.
The FWD versions have 6.4” of ground clearance and the AWD ones have 6.8” and the only place you’ll really notice that is on a spec sheet or if you’re toting around in non-pavement land.
While it’s the cousin of the Hyundai Tucson and there’s a bit of a similarity, I think the Sportage is the better looking of the two. Kia has done such a damn fine job on the design side that it’ll hopefully be the shot in the arm the brand needs to see increases in sales.
There are two engines that keep the Sportage in motion.
My top-end tester comes with the powerful 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder, six-speed engine that roars out 237 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, available only in AWD. And is it ever lively! In a segment mainly based on utilitarianism, the Sportage SX gives your right foot plenty of excitement.
There’s lots of passing power, quick acceleration and is good for 400-series highways as well as rural atmospheres. Handling is responsive, steering feel is firm and the overall ride quality scores high marks from me. So for those of you who have the “there’s no power in CUV’s” complex, the SX will easily remove that.
The alternative on the base LX and mid EX is the 2.4L four cylinder motor producing 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. of torque, which is respectable for a vehicle weighing close to 5,000 pounds.
As with most Kia’s, there’s Eco/Normal/Sport modes that you can toggle between depending on your mood. Kia wants you to explore your rugged side with the Sportage and has equipped all trims with Down Hill Descent Control, where with the push of a button by the gear shift on a steep incline, the vehicle automatically takes over and moves you at 8 km/h without you having to touch the gas or brake. The cool part is that Kia has made this feature standard, where you usually see it on vehicles that are higher on the price scale.
The Dynamax AWD system was made by Magna Canada and will certainly come in handy in winter as it optimizes traction for various weather conditions. While they’re not nearly at Jeep-like quality, the Sportage’s AWD system can get you through a good number of off-road conditions.
Filling up on regular fuel (very cool that Kia has turbo engines that run on 87 octane) will max out at only 62 litres and fuel economy for the SX is 11.9 and 10.2 (city highway) L/100 km.
The LX/EX AWD fuel ratings are 11.3 and 9.5 and the FWD comes in at 10.4 and 8.0.
All three ratings are respectable and the figures can be reduced if you drive smartly and anticipate what’s surrounding you.
On the inside, the cabin is beautifully designed with a combination of leather, soft touch and piano black finishes. There’s definitely an upscale look and feel that’s instantly found once you sit down on the standard heated front seats (cooled front seats and heated rear seats are available on certain trims)
There’s a huge 8” infotainment touch screen on the SX (5” on the base LX and 7” on the mid EX) that’s easy to operate and personally, I love the layout of the centre console. Well laid out buttons and dials beneath the infotainment screen along with an available wireless charging platform.
My 10-way power leather seats (in gorgeous two-tone canyon beige) were incredibly comfortable and the overall comfort level for both myself and my front passenger were quite high.
Safety wise, a backup camera is standard and there’s the standard suite available (BLIS, parking sensors, lane departure, etc.) and they’re an IIHS Top Safety Pick + when equipped with Autonomus Emergency Braking.
There’s an automatic lift gate that senses when the key is three feet away and opens automatically, which is handy if your hands are full and don’t want to make a kicking motion.
Cargo space is good, not great and registers at 868 litres with the rear seats up and 1,703 with the rear seats down. It’ll still get you through most of your storage needs, so not to worry.
There are several trims available, with the LX and EX coming in FWD or AWD, there’s the EX Premium AWD and EX Tech AWD and of course, the SX Turbo, giving you seven options in all.
With prices ranging from the high $24K mark up to the low $39K mark, expect the EX mid-line trim to be the hot seller. While I think paying nearly $40K for a jacked up Sportage is sound, others won’t agree.
Kia’s pushing the high class/quality for a low price mentality to customers, and it’s worked well - and the 2017 Sportage is no exception. The available AWD gives it a designer jeans and hiking boots feel and there’s plenty to tick off on the option sheet that’ll most likely get you a configuration that you’re happy with.
The surge in CUV/SUV popularity means that the Sportage’s new offering will benefit greatly timing-wise and it’s competitively priced as well, which certainly helps. There’ll be holdouts that are still not convinced that Kia is the real deal (they are) and those that will prefer the Japanese powerhouses. Be that as it may, I was thoroughly impressed with the 2017 Sportage and all it has to offer to discerning Canadian consumers.
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