A 12-hour drive with two teenagers? Super easy in the Kia Sportage!
The 2017 Kia Sportage is recently redesigned with a stylish body and all the comfort, safety, and technology to make any drive a pleasure. I drove my teenage son and his friend to a gaming tournament in Atlanta – a 12-hour drive from our home in New Jersey. Thanks to the luxury amenities that come standard in this compact CUV, I did the drive all in one day and it was simply effortless.
Who this car is for
- Families looking for a stylish, compact crossover with good cargo space
- Suburban parents who still want a young, fun driving experience
- Consumers looking for luxury amenities with an affordable price tag
What it costs
I drove the Kia Sportage SX AWD, which lists at $34,000. The front-wheel drive LX trim level starts at $23,200 and the EX starts at $25,700. All are available in AWD for an additional $1,500.
Affordable luxuries in a stylish package
Features like heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, panoramic sunroof, auto high beams and power liftgate were once exclusive to the luxury SUV market. But Kia makes it all available – affordably! – on its LX and SX models. These features, and more, earned the Kia Sportage Kelly Blue Book’s 2017 Best Buy Award in the small SUV category.
Every body panel of the 2017 Sportage has been refreshed. I liked the narrow tail lights that wrap elegantly around the sides. And while I don’t love the look of Kia’s Tiger Nose grill (I think it looks a bit like it’s growling at me), I do love the high position of the stylish headlights that float above the “ice cube” fog lights (which are amazingly bright BTW!). Overall, I think the Sportage is the best-looking car in the compact SUV class.
Intuitive interior design that puts controls where you expect them
The layout of the controls was intuitive, and Kia utilizes basic push buttons instead of the touch controls that some other vehicles use. Sometimes keeping it simple really is the best way to go.
It was easy to engage the cruise control or Bluetooth via the steering wheel controls, and I was able to customize the dashboard display. Every control is logical, easy to find and easy to use.
The Sportage offers easy access to USB, aux, and 12V inputs in the front, as well as an additional USB and 12V in the backseat. The model I drove was equipped with Android Auto compatibility, but not Apple CarPlay (though Kia does offer AppleCarPlay).
The 10-way power control with lumbar support for the driver’s seat was a blessing for my 12-hour drive… and every day after that. The passenger seat even offers an eight-way power control.
For even more details, check out this video review:
All the top smart safety features – and all standard!
In every level Kia Sportage, you’ll get these safety features standard:
- Dual Front Advanced Airbags
- Dual Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
- Full-Length Side Curtain Airbags
- Anti-Lock Braking System
- Vehicle Stability Management
- Electronic Stability Control
- Traction Control System
- and more!
The following features are available on the EX and standard on the SX:
- Parking Assist w/ Front & Rear Sensors
- Blind Spot Detection System w/ Lane-Change Assist
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Lane Departure Warning System
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
Space to spare: No compromises in cargo room or second row leg room
The Kia Sportage is a roomy car with a luxury feel. Every seat was extraordinarily comfortable, and the back seat offers ample leg room for adults.
Although the Sportage doesn’t sport any third-row seating, there’s plenty of cargo space. We fit four carry-on sized bags, a computer bag, and a case of water in the back, and we could have fit 2-3 more suitcases. The 2017 Sportage has five extra cubic feet of space when compared to the previous model.
And the hands-free liftgate and sensor is hands-down my favorite amenity. The Smart Power Liftgate™ automatically opens the back hatch when the key fob is within three feet of the vehicle. Just walk up behind the car with your bags, and the back magically pops open. That’s a feature I’ve added to my ultimate wish-list!
The drive experience is just what you’d expect from a car in this class. The car feels solid, smooth, and safe, and I thought it had terrific suspension on some bumpy back roads. Acceleration is adequate, and when you need more power, you can utilize the Sport Drive Mode or even the paddle shifters.
What the heck do you do with those paddle shifters anyway?
Confession time: I do not know how to drive a manual transmission. But I have friends who talk about how much fun it is and wouldn’t want to drive anything else. So I was both intrigued and anxious about trying the paddle shifters in the Kia Sportage.
Paddle shifters allow you to control your transmission manually. A quick tap of the gear shift and you’re in manual mode. There’s no clutch, and the car will not allow you make any mistakes that will harm the engine, but you are able to shift gears manually by tapping the silver “plus” or “minus” paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel.
I tried it out for quite awhile and came to this conclusion: For someone who doesn’t drive stick shift, it’s just plain fun. You can use it to get faster acceleration when trying to pass another vehicle, or to slow down without excessive braking, which is really great in a crossover on a downhill grade. If you’re hauling a heavy load or towing a trailer, you can avoid wearing out your brakes by letting the engine do all the braking.
What we loved
- Smart Power Liftgate that automatically opens the hatch
- Well-appointed interior with incredibly comfortable seating
- Simple, intuitive push-bottom controls
- Stylish exterior design
- Ample cargo space
- Oversized visor mirror
What you need to know
- Seating for 5 and completely comfortable for 4 adults
- Incredible 5 yr/60,000 mile warranty and 10 yr/100,000 mile powertrain warranty
- Fuel economy: 20 city/23 highway. I did a ton of highway driving and averaged 23 MPG
- Uses regular fuel
- When using navigation, keep your music down and your talking to a minimum. I missed a couple turns in Atlanta because there was only a “ding” to prompt me to turn. I really need 2-3 voice prompts in my navigation system!
- Price of the model we tested: $34,000
What we listened to in the Kia Sportage
During our long drive from New Jersey to Atlanta, we listened to a wide variety of music. And when my teenage son thought I might be getting a bit weary, he was quick to find some 80s hair band music to keep me energized. But besides keeping me awake, these songs reminded me of being young and free – when life was effortless. And that’s kinda how the Kia Sportage made me feel.
Disclosure: Kia provided the 2017 Sportage SX AWD for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.