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First Drive Review: 2017 Kia Sportage

by Sujeet Patel
First Drive Review: 2017 Kia Sportagezoom in

    2017 Kia Sportage

  • Engine: 2.4L 4-cylinder or 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 181 (2.4L) / 240 (2.0L Turbo)
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 175 (2.4L) / 260 (2.0L Turbo)
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Drive Configuration: FWD or AWD
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 23/30/26 (FWD 2.4L) to 20/23/21 (AWD 2.0 Turbo)
  • Curb Weight (lb): 3305 (Base FWD) to 3997 (AWD fully equipped)
  • Wheelbase (in): 105.1
  • Total Length (in): 176.4
  • Width (in): 73.0

Kia recently brought us out to San Diego to drive the all-new 2017 Kia Sportage and experience all that is new and improved with their popular compact crossover.

It’s hard to believe, but the Sportage is Kia Motors America’s longest-running nameplate, dating back to 1994 when the Korean automaker first entered the US market. The original car was inexpensive, bland and rather forgettable. But over the years, Kia has morphed the popular CUV into the stylish, sophisticated vehicle that we see here today.

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WDzoom in

As you can see from these photos, the 2017 Sportage has undergone quite a transformation from the previous-generation Sportage. Looking to stand apart from the rest of the compact crossovers on the market, Kia’s designers gave the new Sportage a distinctly European and sporty styling that’s sure to turn more than a few heads on the streets.

Although 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 while the headlights are positioned higher, sweeping back along the outer edges of the sharply detailed hood. A lower, wider front clip – enlarged to provide greater engine cooling – adds visual volume to the lower half of the Sportage’s face, resulting in more aggressive countenance despite the same 73-inch overall width as its predecessor. The wheelbase has been stretched 1.2 inches (now 105.1 inches), while overall length has increased 1.6 inches to 176.4 inches.

2017 Kia Sportage EX EXzoom in

Tasteful chrome trim surrounds the windows, giving both the Sportage LX and EX a more upscale look, while the top-of-the-line SX Turbo model adds 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.

2017 Sportage SX  SX Turbo 2WDzoom in

Inside, the Sportage gets a roomier, more luxurious cabin with an impressive level of craftsmanship, high-quality, soft-touch materials and a wide range of technologies improving overall comfort, convenience, and connectivity. Updates to the drivetrain provide more efficiency and performance, while changes to the suspension deliver better ride and handling.

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WDzoom in

We spent over five hours behind the wheel of the new Sportage SX, and it proved to be a very pleasant and satisfying driver. The completely redesigned fully-independent front suspension delivered greater stability and a more predictable response to changing road surfaces, while stiffer wheel bearings and bushings resulted in more precise handling. They’ve also improved the steering response, with good weighting tuned into the wheel.

The Sportage SX that we drove is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that puts out 240 hp and 260 lb-ft. of torque, which is more power than you’ll find in most cars in this segment. The Sportage isn’t jaw-droppingly quick, but it’s got plenty of passing power thanks to some nice mid-range torque. If you’re more driven by mileage than horsepower, you can instead opt for the LX or EX models, which use a normally aspirated 2.4-liter engine that produces 181 hp and 175 lb-ft. of torque.

2017 Sportage EX EXzoom in

Both FWD and AWD variants are coupled with an updated six-speed Sportmatic transmission. The Magna Dynamax intelligent AWD system is available on every trim and features a 50/50 locking center differential. The system senses, anticipates, and optimizes traction requirements for all road and weather conditions. If you live in an area that gets bad weather, AWD should be a no-brainer.

Kia has loaded the new Sportage with technology as well, elevating the driving experience and keep drivers connected. The SX features an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen with the latest version of Kiaís award-winning telematics and infotainment system, UVO3, which makes its debut on the all-new Sportage. Complete with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and UVO eServices, the enhanced system features up to 8GB of music storage and access to Pandora. Navigation is also included, but CarPlay is so good that you don’t really need it.

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WDzoom in

All Sportages come standard with a 160-watt six-speaker audio system. A powerful 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system is optional and features eight speakers including subwoofer, an external amplifier, and Clari-FiTM9 music restoration technology for unrivalled audio quality.

Advanced safety technology features on the new Sportage include forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection (which brings the vehicle to a complete stop if a front collision is deemed imminent), lane departure warning (which triggers an audible warning if you veer out of your lane), blind spot detection (which provides a visual warning on your side mirror if a vehicle is in your blind spot), and rear cross traffic alert (which is really handy when backing out of parking spots and driveways).

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WDzoom in

Pricing for the 2017 Kia Sportage starts at just $22,990 for the LX (FWD), $25,500 for the EX (FWD), and $32,500 for the SX (FWD), with their all-wheel drive variants costing an additional $1,500 respectively. So regardless of your budget, there’s a Sportage that’s just right for you.

2017 Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WDzoom in

Overall, I was really impressed with the 2017 Kia Sportage. It’s a sporty, fun-to-drive CUV that checks off all the boxes, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for a compact crossover.

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