Kia Sportage Test Drive

Last Updated:


I think the new Sportage is one of the very best looking compact SUVs out there.
From about every angle, it displays personality and a mature design.
I am not too crazy about the wheel design on the EX version I was driving.
But it is more a matter of taste…


The interior is also very nice.
Maybe not as interesting as the exterior, but miles ahead of the CRV and RAV4.
I would say its main competition would be the Mazda CX-7.

Most plastics used are of the hard kind. But they do not feel or look cheap at all.
I was not a fan of the rather dark grey interior where everything is the same color. Except for some small glossy black areas on the console.
I think a lighter grey, or a black/grey 2 tone would be classier.
Black is available, but no tan.

The stereo, as usual in recent KIAs sounded great, but again, the iPod plug is in front of the automatic shifter, leaving the iPod exposed.

And the center armrest wasn’t adjustable.

otherwise, it is a roomy, pleasant, modern and well put together interior.

Some people here were asking about visibility. Especially through the rather small rear window.
It was never a problem for me while I was driving.


The ride is on the firm side.
The new Sportage is really trying to feel sporty, and a firm ride is what you get.

But it is never really too much. I always thought is was comfortable, and my passengers never complained.
It also always feels very solid.
Although a bit of road noise filters in at freeway speed.
But again, not that unexpected in a sporty car.

The steering is also quite firm.
With that Nintendo feel that I’m not too crazy about. It also felt a bit twitchy, nervous at first.

But I must say, I did get used to it after a day or two. And really had no problem with it after.

The 2.4 Liter unit was familiar, as I have driven it in the Forte before.
As usual, it is quiet and produce more than enough power for the Sportage.

My test unit was an AWD model, rated at 21 City and 28 HWY.
During my week of driving, the best I got in the City was 18 MPG. Not that greatl for a 4 cylinder compact SUV.
But I bet you could squeeze an extra 2 MPG by driving the FWS version.

It was better on the freeway where I got 31 MPG.

No car is perfect, and the sporty side of the Sportage is not for everyone.
But I really like it.

It always feels sporty, but never uncomfortable. It feels quick, agile and quite refined.

It is pretty amazing to see the difference with the previous generation.
I would definitally recomend it as an alternative to the Mazda CX-7.

It doesn’t feel as much as a “mom’s car” as the CRV.

The EX AWD I was driving was loaded with Navigation, double sunroof, leather etc… And retails for $29 990.
Which is quite expensive. Until you price the competition…
A similar CX-7 is about $3500 more.
The Kia is about $800 less than a loaded CRV with no Panoramic roof option available.

Conversation 21 comments

  1. I just bought a Sportage last week..

    EX, FWD, no sunroof or navi… 24k list… got for around 23k…

    Same color as your test… Sandtrack…

    Had a 2007 Sante Fe, got one the first month they came out (Aug 2006)….. Loved it, but saw too many on the road and felt like a soccer mom…

    Hyundai & Kia are taking no prisoners…. GREAT PRODUCTS!!!


  2. Vince, the Mazda CX-7 is technically a mid-size CUV while the Sportage is a compact CUV. That explains the pricing difference.

    You might want to point that out as they aren't a true apples to apples comparison.

    Regardless, this is one of my favorite CUVs out there. It will definitely give a CR-V a run for its money!

  3. Vince, you are comparing this to the wrong vehicle, the CX9, how would you view it against an Equinox, which I think is a great vehicle, or the CRV or Rav4 which it competes against? I don't think the Honda, or Toyota would fare too well, but I think the Chevrolet would do pretty well.

  4. got mitsu outlander sport last week and its a lot cheaper than this..VINCE when are you going to test drive outlander sport? Thanks!

  5. "Anonymous said…
    Vince, you are comparing this to the wrong vehicle, the CX9, how would you view it against an Equinox, which I think is a great vehicle, or the CRV or Rav4 which it competes against? I don't think the Honda, or Toyota would fare too well, but I think the Chevrolet would do pretty well.

    November 8, 2010 6:34 PM"

    Are you kidding?

    The Equinox and Terrain are a terrible bunch. The CR-V won first place in a comparison test last year against one, and the CR-V is in its 4th model year.

    The Equinox/Terrain have TERRIBLE transmission programming, ride like a marshmallow and pitch and yaw like one, and the interior plastics are pretty poor.

    It is FAR from class leading.

  6. Sorry – I've heard nothing but rockstar reviews for the Equinox. Not sure what you've been reading.

    Vince – are you planning a real world test drive for us soon?

  7. Not sure why the CX-9 was even mentioned here, a big 7 passenger V6 SUV…

    As for the Equinox, I was scheduled to drive one a few months ago and it never happened.
    I just put in another request for one.
    Great idea to compare it with the Sportage.

  8. "Anonymous said…
    Sorry – I've heard nothing but rockstar reviews for the Equinox. Not sure what you've been reading.

    Vince – are you planning a real world test drive for us soon?

    November 9, 2010 10:20 AM"

    Stick to the big guns, IE – Automobile, C&D, R&T, Motortrend, etc.

    There haven't been any glowing reviews or "rockstar" reviews.

    I've driven it myself and was underwhelmed.

  9. I'm not sure what you've been reading but Equinox has gotten rave reviews. They can't make them fast enough (3 shifts full time).

    Here's what the "Big Guns" have to say:
    Car and Driver – Richest looks in the segment; handsome interior is among the best, too.

    MotorTrend – The End Of "Good Enough For Chevy"

    Road & Track – Compared to much of its competition, the new Equinox is bulkier and more isolated, but coddles, performs and economizes much better. You might say it's a night and day difference.

  10. The "Big Guns" except paid advertising…What do you think they would say? They are in business for money.

  11. May not perform as well as the Equinox or Terrain, but looks almost as good and probably will cost less (The GM siblings have been in high demand since day 1 so you don't see much haggeling or discounting). On the other hand, it makes the Rav & CRV both look like crap (the CRV actually IS crap, so that wasn't hard; but this thing even trumps the Rav)

  12. Vince – I think they meant CX7 versus CX9. Which still isn't an appropriate comparison….the CX7 is technically a mid-sized CUV

  13. So basically what you summarized is that Chevy has just become moderately competitive, but not class leading.

    Anything was an improvement over the 1st Generation Equinox, with its Chinese built engine that was beyond problematic. Search the Equinox/Torrent forum for problems that people are having with their vehicles.

    Also, not many people AT ALL are acheiving what the EPA stated for mileage figures because GM tuned the vehicle to do well on the rollers.

    Thanks but no thanks, I'll buy my vehicle from a manufacturer that isn't sucking our country dry and isn't run by the government. Ford is looking so good lately, as is just about every other manufacturer other than Chrysler.

  14. Dude – I'm not sure which reviews you're reading…everything I've seen is that they're class leading.

    As for the EPA – please show me one manufacture that actually delivers on those figures…none of them do. My personal rule of thumb is to take the city driving as the 'blended average of Highway and City'….works like a charm on every car I've owned. Further anyone who trusts the onboard reading of fuel economy isn't getting the entire picture….it's simple, fill it up – how many KM's did you drive, divide and you have your fuel economy.

    On the Murano that I owned – it said consistently 11 ltr / 100km's. When I did the average – it was closer to 13.

    I will agree with you that Ford is a good company though…words that I never thought would leave my mouth…however in that breath – I'd also consider a GM product; more words that would never leave my mouth….

  15. Looks like a bargin next to a $29k CRV– but still a ripoff compared to a 29MPG/$25k "Trail Rated" Jeep Patriot.

    The styling blows away anything Kia had in the past (as well as anything Toyota or Honda STILL have) And argueably better than Ford/Mazda–Even LR2. But not quite up there with Terrain. And only about par with Equinox.

    Quality is a wild card. GM & Ford seem to be the leaders in this segment right now; with Kia/Hyundai and Jeep improving to pass over Honda/Toyota/Nissan but not up there with the latest from GM or Ford — yet.

    All things considered I'd spend a little more and get something more useful (ie; bigger) like Explorer/Traverse/Cherokee/Durango/Enclave. Something I could stand to live with for more that a couple years. Because ALL these things are probably good for a solid decade–no matter which brand you're loyal to.

  16. To: November 10, 2010 3:52 PM

    The CR-V has been the best selling SUV in America since 2007, going on five years now. Honda's fleet sales are nearly nonexistant, accounting for less than 2% of overall sales.

    Tell me exactly HOW the Equinox has caught up, or how the laughing stock of the Jeep line-up is a bargain at all?

    Quality is FAR from a wild card if you look at Consumer Reports, TrueDelta, and JD Power. All of which rate the Kia (and Kia as a whole) above Chevrolet and Jeep as a whole. If you want to drag in exact models, the last generation Sportage was FAR more reliable than the last and current gen Equinox, and more reliable than the Patriot.

    The only vehicle (far) more reliable than both is the CR-V.

    FYI, the Terrain is hideous and doesn't sell. The Equinox has one of the highest fleet sales figures in all of GMs lineup after the Malibu, Cobalt, and Impala.

    All of this information is publicly available.

    Does ANYONE do any research anymore?????

  17. Why do people think "fleet sales" is the kiss of death? I'd be far more worried about a model with NO fleet sales. Fleet buyers do a LOT of research before buying. AND they KEEP RECORDS – METICULUS RECORDS of ALL the real world costs of operation (insurance, maintanence, safety, resale, etc.etc.) If the CRV were REALLY a good deal (and not just a brilliantly marketed piece of so-so crap) it would have LOTS of "fleet sales" because its TRUE cost of ownership would save MILLIONS for a company owning Thousands of the same vehicle. THATS the reason you don't see "fleet sales" of sub-standard vehicles (like CR-V)

    Are people REALLY so dumb as to not see the obvious???

  18. The Toyota Corolla is the cheapest car in the world to own and operate and you don't see them in fleets…Try again.

  19. I love the panoramic roof specifically on this one. Kia vehicles are known for not being too pricey but when a car, no matter what the price is, when cared for really well can last long. Cars, being a not so cheap investment, requires an occasional visit for mobile detailing services. Eventually, it will save money on your repairs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *