$14,632 - $21,576

2016 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Kia Sportage was new.


Performance: 7.8

Test drivers are pleased with the 2016 Kia Sportage's base engine power, but say for extra power and quicker acceleration you should opt for the stronger available engine. While reviewers agree that the Kia Sportage's lively handling makes it fun to drive, some caution that its firm suspension leads to a harsh ride. A few test drivers note the Sportage has communicative steering. The Kia Sportage uses a bit more fuel than most rivals.

  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 2016 Kia Sportage comes equipped with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 260 horsepower is available. The base model gets up to 21/28 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. That's slightly below average for a compact SUV.

The Sportage's base engine has plentiful power to satisfy most drivers, reviewers say. Still, for more spirited driving, they recommend opting for the available turbocharged engine, which they say delivers brisk highway acceleration. Some test drivers say the six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and fast.

  • "If you're the type that likes jackrabbit starts and V6-like passing power, the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the 2016 Kia Sportage is your kind of animal. Its 260 horsepower makes it the most powerful vehicle in the compact-SUV class." -- 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 (2015)
  • "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

Though most reviewers appreciate that the Sportage is one of the sharper-handling SUVs in the class, they note that it comes at the expense of a comfortable ride. Some automotive journalists write that the 2016 Kia Sportage offers good steering feedback. The Kia Sportage comes with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional.

  • "Unlike the Forester, however, the Sportage's stiff suspension doesn't translate into superior handling. Excessive body lean coupled with a bouncy ride conspire to take the fun out of winding back roads, which relegates the Sportage to being a straight-line performer." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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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