$9,631 - $13,029

2012 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Kia Sportage was new.


Performance: 7.6

Some reviewers say that with the base engine, the 2012 Kia Sportage is an adequate and agile partner around town, while others complain of a rough ride, imprecise steering and an underpowered engine. The SX trim has a turbocharged engine that gives it an extra boost on the highway that reviewers appreciate.

  • "How's the Sportage drive? Solidly, like a sportier version of the Hyundai Tucson, a vehicle that impressed us with its firmly tuned suspension and near-athletic moves." -- Autoblog
  • "The turbocharged SX is stronger in all situations. Lag is minimal, but torque steer and wheel spin are a problem on front-drive versions, particularly when the pavement is wet. This is not an issue on the AWD SX. Like its non-turbo counterparts, the SX benefits from a smooth, responsive automatic transmission." -- Consumer Guide
  • "For all the attitude served up by its bossy looks, driving the Sportage is a decidedly benign experience.” -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The base 2012 Kia Sportage comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the base model, while all other trims get a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA reports that the 2012 Sportage gets 21/30 mpg city/highway with this engine and an automatic transmission. Acceleration with this engine isn’t blistering, but most reviewers say it moves the Sportage around town just fine, and makes it capable of highway passing.

If you want more power, reviewers suggest the Sportage SX, which has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 260 horsepower, which gives it a lot more juice than the base engine, though it is louder.

  • "Extra power is exactly what the Sportage needed. While the standard 2.4-liter GDI four found in lesser Sportages was just adequate, this new SX handles uphill passing maneuvers with aplomb. Much of the extra torque is available down in the 1,850- to 3,000-rpm range, just where you need it in normal driving situations. So the SX feels responsive and strong whenever you toe into the gas." -- AutoWeek
  • "Wind and road noise are well controlled at all speeds. The engine is impressively smooth and quiet for a 4-cylinder, becoming loud only at higher engine speeds. The SX's engine is noisier, but not annoyingly so. It also has more tire and cabin noise than other models, and it suffers from copious coarse-surface tire thrum." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ride continued smooth, but in passing maneuvers we found the limits of the engine." -- CNET
  • "Although the Sportage's drivetrain is certainly very competitive for the class, we found that it stopped slightly short of offering a truly sporty appeal." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Either reviewers like the 2012 Sportage’s handling and ride quality, or they don’t. Some reviewers say steering is twitchy and doesn’t give enough feedback. But others think the Sportage has crisp and agile handling. Several reviewers also call out the Sportage for a rough, jittery ride, while others call it smooth.

  • “Although our test route had mainly smooth surfaces and wide bends, the Sportage SX exhibited a ride that was supple and well-controlled." -- AutoWeek
  • "The steering felt sharp, responding well to speedy turns." -- CNET
  • "Body lean is well-checked in fast turns, but the steering feels somewhat light and lifeless, at least on the LX and EX. The steering is more firm and direct in the SX. Its moves are sharper all around, but we don't think it's worth the tradeoff of a harsher ride." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The new electric steering was very consistent at all speeds and leaned towards heavy - very closer to a natural hydrualic system would feel. Despite the consistent steering, it felt as if it and the rest of the vehicle lacked in giving proper feedback." -- Left Lane News
  • "On the negative side of things, the examples we drove felt pretty twitchy, with a ride quality that was sometimes jarring on bumpy, truck-worn freeways." -- Autoblog

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