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2021 Kia Sportage Review

The 2021 Kia Sportage finishes near the top of our compact SUV rankings thanks in part to its good predicted reliability rating, adult-friendly seating, and upscale cabin.

Pros & Cons

  • High-quality cabin
  • Spacious seats
  • User-friendly infotainment interface
  • Balanced ride
  • Limited cargo room
  • Below-average fuel economy for the class

New for 2021

  • S Nightfall Edition and S Nightfall Edition Premium packages now available in S trim

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 8.0
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Kia Sportage a Good SUV?

Yes, the Kia Sportage is a good compact SUV. Step inside its cabin, and you'll be met with plenty of space in both rows and a user-friendly infotainment system that comes standard with smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This crossover also boasts a generous list of standard safety features. The Sportage was a finalist for our 2021 Best Compact SUV for the Money award because of its solid combination of quality and value.

Why You Can Trust Us: 34 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 34 Kia Sportage reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

This 2021 Sportage review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2017.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Kia Sportage?

You should definitely consider purchasing the Kia Sportage because it does just about everything right. It offers a balanced ride, there's plenty of space for you to stretch out, and it has an above-average predicted reliability rating. However, there are other vehicles in the class also worth checking out. The Mazda CX-5 is more engaging to drive than the Sportage, and the Honda CR-V has more cargo space.

Find a 2021 Kia Sportage for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Kia Sportage: What's the Difference?

For 2021, the S Nightfall Edition and S Nightfall Edition Premium packages are now available in the Sportage S trim. Otherwise, there are no major differences between the 2020 and 2021 models.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Sportage »

Here are the key changes for the Kia Sportage over the last few years:

  • 2017: completely redesigned with styling updates and additional cabin room; a 5-inch touch screen and a rearview camera became standard; more safety and technology features became available
  • 2018: added features availability for some trims
  • 2019: fewer standard features in base trim; heated rear seats discontinued
  • 2020: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touch screen, a driver condition monitor, forward collision warning, and pedestrian detection added to standard features list
  • 2021: shuffled trim packages

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Sportage, 2019 Sportage, and 2020 Sportage reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Kia Sportage Cost?

The base 2021 Sportage LX starts at $24,090, which is slightly below average for a compact SUV. The midlevel S and EX trims start at $26,590 and $27,390, respectively. The range-topping SX Turbo trim starts at $33,750.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Sportage Versus the Competition

Kia Sportage vs. Mazda CX-5

Both the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage are highly ranked compact SUVs with lots of standard safety and technology features, premium interiors, and two engine choices. However, there are a few key differences between them. The CX-5 delivers a more engaging ride than the Sportage thanks to its responsive steering and sporty handling. The Mazda also boasts slightly better gas mileage while still providing ample power.

On the other hand, the Kia has a higher predicted reliability rating and a more affordable starting price than the Mazda. The Sportage is a good all-around vehicle with lots of appeal, but the CX-5 is the pick for shoppers seeking better performance.

Compare the Sportage and CX-5 »

Kia Sportage vs. Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a more well-rounded SUV than the Sportage. Both models boast upscale cabins and balanced rides, but the CR-V provides quicker acceleration. The Honda also gets better mpg ratings than the Kia and offers nearly 16 cubic feet of additional cargo room. The Sportage is still a great pick, and it comes with more standard infotainment features than the CR-V, but the Honda places higher in our rankings.

Compare the Sportage and CR-V »

Compare the Sportage, CX-5, and CR-V »

Sportage Interior: Refined and Comfortable

Sportage Cargo Space

The Sportage has less cargo space than most of its compact SUV classmates, though small-item storage room in the cabin is plentiful. This Kia has 30.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 60.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. A power liftgate is standard in the EX and SX Turbo trims.

How Many People Does the Sportage Seat?

The Kia Sportage is a two-row SUV with seating for up to five people. Both rows offer comfortable and supportive seats with plenty of space for adult passengers.

Sportage and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Sportage's rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for its ease of use. The tether anchors are easy to find, but the lower anchors are set too deeply in the seats.

Sportage Interior Quality

The Sportage's interior is filled with upscale materials, and comfort features like leather-trimmed seats are available in EX and SX Turbo trims.

Sportage Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The standard UVO infotainment system is easy to use thanks to a touch screen that's angled toward the driver. The screen offers quick response times, and the display has crisp graphics. There are also physical controls that are easy to use while driving. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability make it easy to integrate your smartphone with the system.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, six speakers, Bluetooth, a USB port, and voice recognition
  • Available infotainment features: satellite radio, voice recognition, navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, and wireless device charging
  • Additional standard features: remote keyless entry
  • Other available features: dual-zone automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Sportage Performance: Solid Engines, Balanced Ride

Sportage Engine

The Sportage LX, S, and EX trims come with a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine is perfectly fine for most driving situations, though it doesn’t feel particularly powerful at high speeds. Shoppers who want something more brisk will have to opt for the top-of-the-line SX Turbo trim, which boasts a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Sportage Gas Mileage

Models with the standard 2.4-liter engine and front-wheel drive get 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. These figures are marginally lower than the class average. The SX Turbo and its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine earn an EPA-rated 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Estimates drop slightly for all-wheel-drive models.

Sportage Ride and Handling

The Sportage delivers a comfortable ride, poised handling, and responsive steering. While it can hold its own, it isn't as enjoyable to drive as athletic rivals like the Mazda CX-5.

Read more about performance »

Sportage Reliability

Is the Kia Sportage Reliable?

The 2021 Kia Sportage has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Kia Sportage Warranty

The 2021 Sportage has one of the longest warranties in the compact SUV class. Kia covers the Sportage with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Sportage Safety

Sportage Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Sportage an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The Sportage received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 Sportage the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests. The Sportage received the lowest rating of Poor for how well its standard halogen headlights illuminate the road ahead. However, models with LED headlights earned the second-highest rating of Acceptable for forward visibility.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. The Sportage earned the highest rating of Superior for its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, while the optional vehicle-to-pedestrian system earned the midtier rating of Acceptable.

Sportage Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Driver attention monitor
  • High-beam assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Parking assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors

Read more about safety »

Sportage Dimensions and Weight

The Sportage is 14.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,305 to 3,997 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Kia Sportage Built?

Kia builds the 2021 Sportage in South Korea.

Which Kia Sportage Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Kia Sportage comes in four trims: LX, S, EX, and SX Turbo. The base LX trim is a good pick because it comes with ample safety and infotainment technology, and its 181-horsepower four-cylinder engine should satisfy most shoppers. If you need a boost in power, you’ll have to step up to the top SX Turbo trim and its 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

All-wheel drive is an additional $1,500 in the LX, EX, and SX trims, while the S trim bundles all-wheel drive with heated front seats for $1,700.

Kia Sportage LX

The LX trim (MSRP: $24,090) comes with an infotainment system that includes an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, six speakers, Bluetooth, a USB port, and voice recognition. Other standard features include cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, and remote keyless entry. Several active safety features are also standard, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a driver attention monitor, and high-beam assist.

The LX Popular package ($1,700) includes a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Kia Sportage S

Starting at $26,590, the S trim adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, fog lights, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

The S Nightfall Edition package ($1,500) comes with a panoramic sunroof, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, LED interior lighting, black exterior accents, and Nightfall Edition badging. The S Nightfall Edition Premium package ($1,800) includes heated front seats, push-button start, wireless device charging, adaptive cruise control, and a rear USB port.

Kia Sportage EX

The EX trim (MSRP: $27,390) gains a power liftgate, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a rear USB port.

The EX Technology package costs $4,560 and includes satellite radio, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, wireless device charging, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, parking assist, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.

Kia Sportage SX Turbo

The SX Turbo starts at $33,750. In addition to the stronger engine, this trim comes with an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, LED front fog lights, LED tail lights, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, parking assist, front and rear parking sensors, navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, wireless device charging, and satellite radio.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2021 Kia Sportage specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Kia Sportage has a lot of positive attributes, which is why it ranks highly in the compact SUV class. Its cabin has more than enough space for adults, the base trim is filled with features, and the ride is comfortable and composed. This Kia's biggest drawbacks are its mediocre fuel economy ratings and small cargo area for the class.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Kia Sportage can be an excellent choice as an entry-level crossover SUV. But it’s also available with high-end features like heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 320-watt Harman Kardon audio system, panoramic sunroof, and a powered tailgate." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2021 Kia Sportage is a compact crossover that’s big on choice. … The Sportage also earns good marks in crash tests and does fairly well in the areas of resale and reliability. The only areas where the Sportage falls somewhat short is cargo space and fuel efficiency." -- Autotrader
  • "The … Kia Sportage is one of these lesser-known rivals, and we think it makes a good name for itself, with a low price and a feature-rich lineup. … The Sportage is smaller than most in the class, but its passenger seating is just as roomy as you'll find in competitors. That means the space savings has to come from behind the second row, where the Sportage supplies about one-third less cargo space than its most spacious rivals. We also aren't impressed by the upgraded engine, which feels strong but posts worse acceleration figures than the standard motor. Fuel ratings for either engine are also middling. However, its lower purchase price helps even things out, and you won't be turned off by the cargo area unless you typically load your car to the brim with gear." -- Edmunds (2020)
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2021 Kia Sportage

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