Reviews

2018 Kia Sportage Driving Impressions


Ride comfort and handling prowess are Sportage strong points. LX editions with 17-inch tires yield the softest ride, but the EX is only a tad stiffer. SX Turbos ride on firmer springs, with different dampers. Steering is set up slightly differently, too, giving the SX a distinctive character.

Handling confidently and predictably, unlike some competitors, the Sportage shows minimal sloppiness. By compact crossover standards, at least, the Sportage feels sure-footed through curves and corners. Steering offers a little more heft than is customary. LX and EX models feel well-planted, without being overly firm.

The Sportage is impressively quiet, thanks to extensive sound-deadening and acoustic glass.

With either engine, performance ranks above average. The basic 2.4-liter engine performs adequately, but cannot be called inspiring. Acceleration is more stirring with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, in the SX Turbo.

Kia’s all-wheel-drive system reacts swiftly on slippery surfaces, to improve grip by the rear tires. A special front bumper that provides slightly more ground clearance goes on AWD models, to help on snow-covered pavement.

The quiet base engine sends only a subdued growl into the cabin. Especially with all-wheel drive, fuel economy trails class-leading rivals. An LX with front-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops that estimate to an unimpressive 21/25/22 mpg. Slightly larger wheels cut EX figures to 22/29/25 mpg with front-wheel drive, or 21/25/23 mpg with all-wheel drive.

SX Turbos consume the most, EPA-rated at 21/26 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined, with front-wheel drive; and only 20/23/21 mpg with all-wheel drive.

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