2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD Review
Take for example the Sportage SX Turbo. It’s outfitted with auto on/off directionally adaptive projector HID headlamps with integrated LEDs and auto high beams along with two quads of LED fog lights at each corner of the front end and an aluminum-look skid plate below. 19-inch machine-finished alloy wheels are standard on this trim level, along with power-folding heated side mirrors and a bevy of safety tech that includes blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and autonomous braking. A black glass rooftop offers panoramic vistas, and unique LED taillights along with twin stainless exhaust pipes and another aluminum skid plate grace the rear of the vehicle.
Feel like you’re reading the wrong review? Sounds like an Audi or BMW? Mercedes-Benz? Lexus or Infiniti? Maybe an Acura? If it were any of these luxury brands, the vehicle in question would only have half as many features, cost thousands more and wouldn’t be backed by a five-year comprehensive warranty with 10-year powertrain coverage.
But no, this really is Kia, and the brand is pushing the premium experience with the Sportage SX Turbo. As you approach the vehicle, welcome lights hidden behind the door handles come to life and the mirrors unfold. Once behind the wheel, you’ll find contrast-stitched perforated leather and soft-touch synthetics that wrap over the entire dash top, upper instrument panel, and door uppers, while alloy pedals, a heated leather steering wheel, and a leather shift knob continue the premium theme.
The Sportage SX Turbo is also outfitted with all the expected electronics including an LCD instrument cluster and a state-of-the-art infotainment system that includes a Harmon/Kardon audio system, navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A rearview camera provides unobstructed rear visibility, and additional goodies include dual-zone auto climate control, three-way heated, cooled and powered front seats, two-way heated rear seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and more—all of this for $32,500 plus freight and dealer fees. Throw in an additional $1,500 if you opt for AWD.
All this luxury would all be wasted if the Sportage SX Turbo didn’t handle well, but a tight body structure, independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspensions, performance shocks, and the 245/45R19 all-season tires make for a thoroughly enjoyable package that is as capable of carving up canyons as cruising along the highway or touring around the city. The ride, while firm in an almost Germanic way, is totally comfortable on all but the worst road surfaces, and even then it’s more than bearable.
While the driver’s seat could use a little more lateral support to keep up with available performance, its 10-way adjustability and its powered lumbar support are extremely comfortable and soothing to the lower back. In fact, with the exception of the center rear position, all the seats are form fitting and quite spacious, delivering a lot of leg and knee room for such a small SUV.
When it comes to cargo carrying capacity, the Sportage is no wimp, offering up as much as 60.1 cubic feet with the rear seats dropped and the multi-position floor lowered. What’s more, the cargo floor is nicely finished with high-grade carpeting and the vehicle comes with a cargo net plus a retractable cover that’s housed in a removable aluminum cross member.
Need more evidence that this fourth-generation Sportage is a better choice than many of its rivals? Simple look at the awards it’s won. So far the 2017 Sportage has earned Essen, Germany’s Red Dot Design Award and Hanover, Germany’s iF product design award, plus even more importantly an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating when in top-tier SX Turbo trim. Something else that should impress is first overall placement in J.D. Power’s latest 2016 Initial Quality Study for the Kia brand (yes, that means it beat Porsche, Lexus, Toyota, Honda and all the rest). It also is ranked fourth out of 17 mainstream volume brands on Consumer Reports’ 2016 report card on reliability.
Most new Sportage buyers aren’t paying anywhere near $32,000 price quoted earlier; well equipped LX trim levels start at just $22,990 plus freight and dealer fees. But no matter the trim level you choose, you’ll get plenty of value in one exceptionally good SUV.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann and Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press