2017 Kia Sportage Raises CUV Versatility and Performance

by Tony West and Sommer Thornton

Kia’s new Sportage gets a much needed style upgrade. With a few extra inches added to its length and wheelbase and some new flair with interior upholstery and technology, the whip has the character of mid-size SUV. Even better the new Sportage has a refined powertrain with efficiency and balanced high-speed aggression. The 2017 Kia Sportage is available in 3 grades, the base LX, EX, and the SX Turbo with a turbo 2.0 liter GDI I4 engine with 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

We reviewed the base model Kia Sportage LX with advanced suspension and front-wheel drive.

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WD
2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo 2WD

 

Major Pros

• The new Kia Sportage styles out the front fascia with a more sloping roofline, recessed ‘tiger nose’ grille and more elevated LED headlights.
• Enhancements to the front lip give it a more planted menacing stance and enhances engine cooling.
• The SX Turbo features HID headlights, LED tail lights and 19 inch alloy wheels.
• The fully-loaded SX Turbo boasts a refined driver-focused cockpit – spacious with leather upholstery, a clean functional layout and available heated leather-wrapped steering wheel.
• The interior has mid-size SUV legroom and headroom with 10-way power driver’s seat and dual-level cargo floor.
• A power tailgate is available as is a panoramic sunroof and dual exhausts.
• With the rigid construction of high-strength steel, noise insulation and new safety components and tech, the 2017 Kia Sportage is on track to earn a 5-star NHTSA safety rating.

 

Fresh new Design with Optional Flair

The 2017 Kia Sportage has transformed itself into a best buy with its big brother – the Sorento. The LX has a MSRP of just $22k for the base model, on par with Nissan’s Juke and Toyota’s Rav4. With new style inside and out the Sportage attempts to beat them both. The exterior is redesigned with a bigger 3D looking honeycomb grille, big air vents and a more sloped hood.

2017 Kia Sportage LX
2017 Kia Sportage LX

The wheelbase of the 2017 Sportage  grew to 105 inches and the CUV is now 176 inches long, a leg up on its peers. The extra inches give the whip ideal legroom and hip room. The LX also has cool chrome at the windows and 17 inch wheels. LED daytime running lights are standard on all models and bi-xenon headlights with dynamic bending and High Beam Assist is standard on the Sportage SX Turbo. The LX Sportage also offers gloss black fog lights and gloss black grille with chrome trim and a solar glass windshield.

2017 Kia Sportage LX
2017 Kia Sportage LX

Other features like the rear spoiler aid aerodynamics. While an available roof rack adds more functionality and privacy glass keeps the car cool and adds another layer of safety.

 

Cool Well-Balanced Performance

The new Kia Sportage has an efficient versatile performance great not just for city driving, not just for highway driving and long trips, but ideal as a work car. It has the capabilities to carry a lot of cargo with the comfort and efficiency of a hybrid sedan.

The LX has a 2.4 liter GDI 4 cylinder engine with 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. The peppy engine boasts a highway EPA of 30 mpg (26 mpg combined / 23 mpg city). The whip gets up on the highway thanks in-part to a rigid more aerodynamic body design. The 4 cylinder is matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. All models have high performance dampers that help stabilize this little CUV over rough terrain.

2017 Sportage EX
2017 Sportage EX

The balanced powertrain has some real aggression – almost sporty. The whip maneuvers great at high speeds. Plus I could drive out in and out of town – over 300 miles on a single tank. Robust FWD makes me feel like I can take the CUV anywhere, until I go over an ice patch.

2017 Sportage EX EX
2017 Sportage EX

Multilink rear suspension is standard on the LX model, though the whip will still rattle over deep craters and bumps in Chicago.

The optional Magna Dynamax intelligent all-wheel drive system not only adds a lower front fascia but also features a 50/50 locking center differential.

The 2017 Kia Sportage also has a Drive Mode Select inside that can adjust driving dynamics to Normal Sport or Eco modes. Eco and Normal modes are very similar with Eco mode keeping my revs low. Sport mode opens the throttle a little more and my upshifts are primed for aggressive driving. Electric Power Steering is fluid but turning and cornering is tight. Sudden turns and tight parking aren’t as seamless as other CUVs.

A remote start is available for $425.

While the Sportage LX doesn’t offer enough standard safety features, much of the more advanced technology is optional and standard on the SX Turbo. Standard safety features include ABS and EBD with traction control, downhill brake and hill start assist control. The blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert should be standard across the model line. But they are not available on the LX model and standard on the SX Turbo. The SX Turbo also offers standard Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.

All models have a standard rear-view camera.

 

Upgraded Interior with Functional Lux and Tech

The all-new Sportage’s roomier cabin features a range of improvements to overall comfort, convenience and connectivity. The driver-focused cockpit of Kia’s 2017 Sportage LX only has cloth seats, but they’re very comfortable for short and tall drivers. The LX also offers upgraded cloth seats with contrast stitching and anti-soil fabric technology.

A manual driver seat is standard on the LX – boring. But a 10-way power driver’s seat is optional.

I like the big air vents that feature dual-zone climate control that quickly heats the Sportage in sub-zero temps. Keyless entry is standard on all models.

2017 Kia Sportage LX interior
2017 Kia Sportage LX interior

The steering wheel can control audio, cruise control and a semi digital dash. A 3.5 inch TFT LCD cluster is standard on each model that displays infotainment, driving stats and settings for comfort and safety functions.

And the 2017 Kia Sportage has a cool standard 5 inch touchscreen and 6-speaker audio system. An 8 inch touchscreen with navigation, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and UVO is standard on the SX Turbo. The typical connectivity is standard on the LX like a USB port, aux hookup, Bluetooth and voice command.

I like the abundant storage in the little Sportage. The CUV has a big center armrest and center storage tray, rear center armrest, dual-level cargo floor and a luggage under floor tray. The whip has 60/40 split folding rear seats and 30.7 cubic feet of cargo space. The rear seats also have a 17-step recline. The innovative Smart Power Liftgate is standard on the SX Turbo model which will auto open the rear door when the driver stands behind it for more than a few seconds.

2017 Kia Sportage LX
2017 Kia Sportage LX

The 2017 Kia Sportage becomes a highly competitive CUV with upgrades to the SX Turbo model. Pitted against the Rav4 the Sportage edges a win with a more functional stylish interior and a cheaper sticker price. But Honda’s CR-V is better looking inside and out, plus has a more efficient powertrain.

For 2017, the Sportage has the right upgrades to put it at the top of the class and increase sales.

 

 

 

Check out more photos from our First Drive with the 2017 Kia Sportage on our Facebook Page!