Are you in the market for a compact crossover? Well the good news is that nearly every automaker has one. The bad news, there are so many to choose from, so how can you ever decide which one to go with? Well Honda, Nissan and Toyota dominate the sales charts in this segment, but what about something a little different? Well there’s the Kia Sportage, a stylish, feature packed crossover that stands out in the crowded compact crossover segment.
The Sportage has been around for years, some may not even remember, but the Sportage was one of the first models that Kia launched when it arrived in the US in the mid-1990s. At the beginning the Sportage was a fun little SUV before the “crossover” became all the rage. Now over 20 years later the fourth-generation Sportage has become a premium crossover with a level of style and substance that many of its rivals have yet to achieve.
On the outside, the 2018 Sportage has a curvaceous exterior that counters the boxy look that some of its rivals bring to the table. The bold, sculpted exterior not only gives the Sportage a sportier presence, but also makes it look a bit more premium.
Inside the Sportage’s dashboard features a clean, simple design that slightly angled towards the driver. The Sportage does offer the latest tech features as well, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is accessed via an 8-inch touchscreen. A 320-watt Harmon Kardon audio system is also available.
The Sportage can easily fit five passengers, which in our tester we actually drove around town for an hour with five six-foot guys packed in. No one complained and the panoramic sunroof made it feel a bit more open. Behind the rear seat there’s 30.7 cubic feet of space, which expands to 60.1 cubic feet if you fold down the rear seats. If hauling gear is your thing, both the CR-V and RAV4 offer more cargo space.
On the safety front, the 2018 Kia Sportage is available with the latest driver assistance features, like emergency braking, lane change assist, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert. There was only one feature that we wanted badly, adaptive cruise control. For some reason it’s missing from the options list.
Under the hood you have two choices, a 184-hp naturally-aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder of a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 240-hp and 230 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is optional. The most fuel efficient version is the 2.4L with front-wheel drive, which is rated at 23/30 mpg, while the 2.0L with FWD is rated at 21/26 mpg. What’s a bit shocking that the all-wheel drive 2.0L is rated at 20/23 mpg and even the 2.4L with AWD is rated at only 21/25 mpg.
After driving a Sportage SX Turbo with all-wheel drive around town for a week, we agreed that the SX Turbo is the trim level to go with if you like to have a little fun behind the wheel. The 2.0L four-cylinder does pack a nice punch, which makes it feel zippier than the CR-V and RAV4. The 2.0L is backed up with a suspension that inspires a bit of confidence when the road gets curvy. Even the steering is nicely weighted and you thankfully there isn’t as much body roll as you’ll get with some of its rivals.
While the CR-V, RAV4 and Rogue may offer a bit more space than the Sportage, its unique (quirky) styling and zippy turbo helps it stand out in the compact crossover segment.
The 2018 Kia Sportage starts at $23,600 and the Sportage is offered in LX, EX and SX Turbo trim levels. The turbocharged engine is only available with the SX Turbo trim level, which starts at $32,900.