The Sportage is the Korean automaker?s longest running nameplate, and the 2017 Kia Sportage is all new as it enters its fourth generation. It has aged well, continually evolving and improving since the introduction of the first generation, and that?s a good thing, since that very first Kia Sportage left a lot to be desired.
The 2017 Kia Sportage has grown not only in stature ? to a 105.1-inch wheelbase (+1.2-inches) and an overall length of 176.4-inches (a 1.6-inch increase), it has also moved from bland utility to a visually appealing CUV with sporty European styling, featuring thoughtful design touches with innovative packaging, added functionality, premium quality materials and a turbocharged engine.
The dynamic new look was penned under the direction of Kia?s president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, and the 2017 Sportage?s exterior displays smooth curves combined with sharp creases. Even though every body panel is new, the ?face? of the new Sportage features the most significant change over the outgoing model. Kia?s hallmark ?tiger-nose? grille resides vertically in the front fascia with the headlights positioned higher, sweeping back along the outer edges of the sharply detailed hood. A lower, wider front clip that was enlarged to provide improved engine cooling adds visual volume to the lower half of the Sportage?s face, resulting in a bolder, more aggressive persona despite the same 73-inch overall width as its predecessor.
In spite of its dimensional increase, the all-new Sportage retains its instant recognizability, thanks to its sloping roofline and sharply raked rear window. Its overhangs are short and the wheels are pushed out to the corners. There is a longer, more aerodynamic spoiler and bolder wheel arches, giving the compact CUV a more athletic look. Tasteful chrome trim surrounds the cabin glass, giving both the Sportage LX and EX a more upscale look, with the top-of-the-line SX Turbo model adding new ?ice cube? LED fog lamps, HID headlamps, LED tail lights, satin exterior trim, metal-look skid plates, metal transverse trim, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The 2017 Sportage is also more aerodynamic than its predecessor, with a coefficient of drag that?s been reduced from .35 to .33.
Moving to the interior, the new Sportage?s driver-oriented cockpit showcases a simple and modern design with clean horizontal lines that emphasize a roomier interior. The dashboard?s lateral design divides it into two distinct zones. The upper ?display? zone provides information to occupants via the instrument panel and new color touchscreen, that is canted 7.2 degrees toward the driver, while the lower half, or ?control? zone, serves up easily identifiable switchgear to operate the available dual-zone climate system, audio and secondary controls. The center console has also been angled toward the driver, in similar fashion to the touchscreen.
Lending the Sportage a more upscale feel, is the availability of five expressive interior colors integrated with metalwork and soft-touch materials. The EX and SX Turbo models add sumptuous leather upholstery, with the SX Turbo including a D-shaped, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, piano black trim along the center console, aluminum alloy pedals, and authentic stitching on the dashboard. Both the interior passenger space and cargo room have been increased thanks to an innovative dual-level cargo floor and widened luggage area. Cargo capacity behind the second row is now 30.7 cu.-ft. , and by relocating the license plate from the bumper to the tailgate, the lift-over height is now lower for easier loading and unloading. A Smart Power Liftgate? that automatically opens when the key fob is within three feet of the vehicle, is also available.
Outward visibility has been enhanced by mounting the exterior side mirrors lower on the doors, by utilizing thinner A- and C-pillars and incorporating larger rear hatch glass. A more spacious feeling may be achieved with an available panoramic sunroof with an opening 4.1 inches longer than that of the outgoing model?s.
The Sportage is the first Kia to offer UVO3, featuring Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 14 telematics services, and 8 GB of music storage, all free of charge, and all Sportages come standard with a 160-watt six-speaker audio system. A powerful 320-watt Harman Kardon? premium audio system is also available featuring eight speakers including subwoofer, an external amplifier, and Clari-FiTM9 music restoration technology for premium audio quality.
Power for the new Sportage is supplied by a normally aspirated 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, retuned for greater fuel efficiency that produces181 horsepower along with 175 pound feet of torque for LX and EX models. FWD SX Turbo models receive their get up and go from a 2.0-liter DOHC, CVVT, 16-valve Turbocharged, Gasoline Direct Injection inline 4-cylinder that generates 240 horses (237 for AWD models) while also delivering 260 pound feet of torque. Motive force is directed to the driving wheels (FWD or AWD) via an updated six- speed Sportmatic automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The Magna Dynamax? intelligent AWD system is available on every trim level and features a 50/50 locking center differential. The system senses, anticipates, and optimizes traction requirements for all road and weather conditions, and AWD models feature a unique front fascia with a steeper approach angle for increased off-road capability.
A host of Driver Assistance features is available, including: Forward Collision Warning System and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection; Lane Departure Warning System; Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Front & Rear Parking Assist; Bi-HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Light and High Beam Assist technology.
SUMMARY: The 2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo represents a humongous improvement over the first example that appeared in 1993. What a difference a couple of decades makes. This latest iteration Sportage is extremely good-looking as CUVs go and it is reasonably priced considering the content level provided. Fuel economy is not stellar with the turbocharged four-banger, but it is certainly acceptable and much better than what the old V6 used to yield.
Seating is comfortable for five and ride quality is compliant and comfortable ? not necessarily luxuriously plush mind you, but, hey, it?s a CUV that is actually capable of going where there are no roads when equipped with AWD, and while It might not be totally at home traversing the legendary Rubicon Trail, it should meet most traditional off road demands thrown its way, such as gravel, mud and snow. The on road manners are pleasant as well, with a level of agility in handling in evidence delivering a sporty and stable ride ? some might even say that it?s fun to drive. I certainly felt that it was.
Acceleration is instantly responsive, with no turbo lag or torque steer. The transmission changes gears smoothly, whether in automatic mode or when shifting manually with the paddle shifters.
The new Sportage will continue to be built at Kia?s production facility in Gwangu, Korea, and is available in three levels of trim: LX; EX; and SX Turbo.
Bottom-line, the 2017 Kia Sportage in any of it trim levels is a worthy contender in the compact CUV marketplace. Add Kia?s comprehensive warranty program that offers a 10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year or 60,000-mile limited basic warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan that?s also part of the comprehensive coverage program and you have a pretty attractive deal.
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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo FWD [/wptabtitle]
|Price as Tested:||$33,395.|
|Engine Type and Size:||2.0-liter, DOHC, CVVT, 16-valve Turbocharged, Gasoline Direct Injection inline 4-cylinder.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||240 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||260 @ 1,450-3,500 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / FWD with AWD available as a $1,500 option.|
Front – MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar.
Rear ? Multi-link.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs with ABS, ESC, HAC and DBC.|
|Tires:||Hankook P245/45 R19 98H mounted on 5-?Y?-spoke alloy wheels with machined face and Painted inners.|
|Length Overall:||176.4 inches|
|Height:||64.8 inches w/o roof rails-FWD / 64.8 ?-AWD|
|Curb Weight:||3,666 lbs. – FWD / 3,765 lbs. – AWD|
|Fuel Capacity:||16.4 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||21 mpg city / 26 mpg highway|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed.|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not Tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.