$21,900 - $29,600

2015 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Kia Sportage was new.


Performance: 7.5

According to test drivers, the 2015 Kia Sportage’s base engine delivers satisfactory power in most driving situations. However, the Sportage’s more powerful, optional turbocharged engine earns praise for its extra power, which makes the Sportage particularly fun to drive. Reviewers praise the Kia Sportage’s agile handling, but say a firm suspension means that it also has a harsh ride. Some automotive journalists note that the Sportage has quick steering and responsive brakes.

  • “Whether you're darting through urban streets or taking your time on a rural byway, the Sportage feels more like a nimble hatchback than a high-riding utility vehicle. Toss in the all-wheel-drive option, and the Sportage becomes a year-round commuter that can handle almost any weather condition." -- AutoTrader
  • “More than just giving you carlike abilities, it effectively backs up what its name implies by offering nimble handling and strong engines. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the SX trim level, in particular, is a standout, thanks to its 260 horsepower. You won't find much else out there that's quicker." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2013 Kia Sportage's taut suspension and powerful engine choices put the ‘sport’ in Sport Utility Vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "Sad to say, the marginal performance combined with aggravating ride comfort and handling really knocked it down in the rankings." -- Motor Trend (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Kia Sportage comes with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 260 horsepower is available. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. With the base engine and front-wheel drive, the 2015 Kia Sportage earns an EPA-estimated 21/28 mpg city/highway, which is just below average for the class. 

The 2015 Sportage’s base engine has plenty of power for your commute, reviewers say. However, they point out that the available turbocharged four-cylinder engine is one of the most powerful in the class and delivers spirited acceleration. According to some reviewers, the six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly.

  • "The standard 2.4-liter engine delivers 182 horsepower, and it's easily competitive with the standard engines you'll find in a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, or many other compact SUVs. What you won't find is anything quite like the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and its 260 horsepower, which turns the Sportage into the class jock." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "You won't go wrong with either engine. The standard 2.4-liter engine that powers LX and EX models has more than enough power to feel zippy in daily driving. But it might be hard to resist the charms of the SX, as its 260-hp turbocharged mill delivers impressively quick acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "Exclusive to the SX trim is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder that cranks out 260 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. This is essentially the same engine featured in the Optima midsize sedan. It's a gem, delivering strong, lag-free acceleration that evokes fancier crossovers such as the BMW X3." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "Everyone judged its six-speed automatic as the most seamless and responsive." -- Motor Trend (2012) 

Handling and Braking

The 2015 Kia Sportage has sharper handling than that of most SUVs in the class, test drivers agree. However, they say its firm suspension means that the Sportage’s ride may be too harsh for some drivers. A few reviewers say the Sportage has communicative steering and strong brakes. The Kia Sportage comes with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional.

  • "The 2015 Kia Sportage feels intimate and sporty as soon as you sit behind the wheel, and a spirited drive confirms this impression. Thanks to its firm suspension and responsive steering, the Sportage engages the driver like few other affordable crossovers can." -- AutoTrader
  • Generally, you won't find the words ‘sporty’ and ‘crossover’ used in the same sentence. What we can say, however, is that the 2015 Kia Sportage has a more responsive and fun-to-drive character than you might expect. Credit for this lively feel goes to a suspension that's tuned to favor sharper handling. The tradeoff, of course, is a ride quality that some buyers may find a little too harsh for their taste." -- Edmunds
  • "… the steering feel is pretty good, and the brakes definitely stop the Sportage quickly." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The firm suspension feels well controlled, but Sportage doesn't do as good of a job filtering out bumps as many of its class competitors." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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