$23,200 - $34,200

2017 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Kia Sportage was new.


Performance: 7.9

The 2017 Kia Sportage has a smooth ride and engaging handling for a compact SUV. Underwhelming acceleration and fuel economy hinder the fun a bit, but don't squelch it completely.

  • "With the caveat that it's still a crossover, the Sportage SX is enjoyable to drive." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "I found the overall driving experience to be enjoyable, and I'd put the turbo version of the Sportage near the very top of the segment in that regard." -- Cars.com
  • "While the previous Sportage suffered from a loud cabin and a suspension that crashed over bumps, the 2017 model is quiet and comfortable rolling down the highway, yet it also does well tackling winding California roads." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Kia Sportage comes standard with a 181-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The SX Turbo trim has a 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (it has 237 horsepower if you upgrade to all-wheel drive).

The base Sportage's fuel economy is a bit underwhelming for the class at 23 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. For comparison, the Honda CR-V gets 26/33 mpg city/highway. The turbocharged Sportage gets even worse fuel economy (21/26 mpg city/highway).

Neither engine is particularly impressive, performance-wise. The base four-cylinder can keep up with city traffic but feels underwhelming on the highway. The turbocharged model is faster, but for something that produces the most horsepower in the class, it just doesn't feel that fast. Some test drivers blame the Sportage's hefty curb weight, which has increased with the redesign. On the plus side, the Sportage's standard six-speed transmission shifts smoothly.

  • It pulls easily and deliberately through the automatic transmission's six forward gears, but considering the power rating, we were expecting a bit more punch from a 240-hp turbo." -- Automobile Magazine
  • Given how accomplished the Sportage is otherwise, the engines are something of a letdown. The base 2.4-liter engine operates smoothly, but while it keeps you moving with traffic well enough, there's not much surplus power for passing. We like that Kia provides a higher-performance engine in the SX Turbo, but it doesn't give you the punch you'd expect based on its extra 59 hp, and its fuel economy penalty may be hard to swallow. In any event, we're fans of the six-speed automatic, which is one of the best-mannered transmissions you'll find in this segment." -- Edmunds
  • While the 2.0T swiftly propels the Sportage out of corners, it's still not jaw-dropping quick. The very warm temperatures could have been playing a part in sapping some power, but I believe most of it has to do with a fully-loaded SX AWD having a curb weight of nearly 4,000 pounds." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

Though it can't quite touch the athleticism of the Mazda CX-5, the Sportage is one of the nimbler vehicles in the segment. It avoids excessive leaning in corners, and its strong brakes and responsive steering mean you can tackle a winding road with confidence. The Sportage's ride isn't stiff, as it sometimes can be in sportier vehicles. It has no trouble absorbing bumps in the road. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.

  • "The Sportage has evolved noticeably from the firm-riding crossover it used to be. Kia seems to have realized that crossover buyers appreciate comfort, too, because the 2017 Sportage strikes a rewarding balance between ride compliance and handling control. There's still a certain athleticism to the way this crossover steers and takes a corner, but impacts now tend to be absorbed or shrugged off rather than transmitted vividly to the cabin." -- Edmunds
  • "On challenging roads a couple of hours outside of San Diego, my SX tester tracks confidently through quick bends, with its body motions staying in check without much roll or dive when braking. The brakes themselves are strong, with pleasingly firm pedal feedback. It's certainly a sporty ride for the segment, but the higher handling abilities thankfully don't necessarily come at the expense of ride comfort. Even on the SX's 19-inch wheel and tire package, the Sportage rides smoothly enough, with the suspension still taking the edge off of most road impacts I come across." -- CNET
  • "The good news is that the steering is finally coming around. The new Sportage is more responsive to wheel inputs and there's significantly more feedback. It still won't touch a CX-5 in that department, but it's on the right track." -- Left Lane News

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