2018 Kia Sportage

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MSRP: $23,600 - 34,400

2018 Kia Sportage Review

The 2018 Kia Sportage does most things well, which is why it finishes in the top third of our compact SUV rankings. However, a few drawbacks related to its powertrains stop the Sportage from surpassing elite vehicles.

Pros & Cons

  • Premium interior
  • Two rows of spacious seats
  • Agile handling and smooth ride
  • Excellent warranty and predicted reliability rating
  • Unimpressive engines
  • Below-average fuel economy
  • Smaller cargo hold than rivals

Is the Kia Sportage a Good SUV?

The Kia Sportage is a good option in the compact SUV class. It has plenty of space for taller passengers in both rows and one of the nicest interiors in the segment. The Sportage also has a sufficient amount of available technology features (like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay), and it boasts one of the highest predicted reliability ratings in the class. However, this Kia has underpowered engines and below-average fuel economy. Even so, driver engagement is high, and the warranty coverage is longer than what most rivals offer.

Should I Buy the Kia Sportage?

The Sportage definitely isn't a perfect vehicle, but there are several reasons to like it, including a spacious and upscale interior, a strong predicted reliability rating, and good road manners. A couple of great alternatives include the Hyundai Tucson and the Mazda CX-5. In most respects, the Tucson is comparable to the Sportage, but it gets better fuel economy estimates. Just like the Kia, the CX-5 has an upscale interior. However, the Mazda is more fun to drive.

Compare the Sportage, Tucson, and CX-5 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Sportage?

Kia fully redesigned the Sportage for the 2017 model year, and it carries over into 2018 mostly unchanged. There were minor revisions to feature availability, such as a newly optional package of driver assistance features for the base model. Also, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are now standard in the mid-range EX trim. There were no completely new features introduced for 2018. If you're open to driving a used car, you may be better served by shopping for a used 2017 Sportage. You can likely save money, though you'll have to hunt around for the features you want.

To do more research on a used model from this generation, check out our review of the 2017 Kia Sportage. You can also read our review of the previous-generation 2016 Kia Sportage. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for information on incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Kia Sportage »
We Did the Research for You: 22 Reviews Analyzed

Our reviews are not based on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine professional test driver opinions with quantifiable data such as crash test results and predicted reliability ratings to create a complete picture of every car we rank. This 2018 Kia Sportage review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2017 and 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. To ensure that our reviews are objective, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Sportage Cost?

The Sportage LX, which is the base trim, has a starting price of $23,600. That’s typical for a compact SUV; many vehicles in the class start at around $22,000 to $25,000. The middle trim is the Sportage EX, which starts at $26,400, and the highest trim – the Sportage SX Turbo – has a starting price of $32,900.

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

Which Is Better: Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson?

Both the Sportage and Hyundai Tucson have solid handling, decent power, and a comfortable ride, but the Hyundai is more fuel-efficient. The Tucson also has a quiet interior and a good amount of room in both rows, but its cabin isn’t as upscale as the Sportage’s. Both SUVs have user-friendly infotainment systems, but the Sportage has more available features. Lastly, the Sportage has a higher sticker price, but the Tucson has superior safety scores. Since these SUVs are close in our rankings, choosing either model is contingent on what factors matter the most to you.

Which Is Better: Kia Sportage or Mazda CX-5?

The Mazda CX-5 is another compact SUV that places near the top of our rankings, thanks in large part to its exceedingly sharp handling and steering. It also delivers a smooth, comfortable ride. Likewise, it has better gas mileage than the Sportage. Just like the Kia, the CX-5 has a well-built cabin with high-quality materials, though it isn’t expected to be as reliable as the Kia. There are a lot of standard and available tech features, but the Mazda doesn't offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (available in the Kia). Nonetheless, both rows of seats can accommodate adults. The Mazda will leave a slightly larger dent in your wallet, but it’s a worthwhile investment for a better SUV.

Which Is Better: Kia Sportage or Toyota RAV4?

Compared to the Sportage, the Toyota RAV4 is the inferior vehicle. While it comes with many tech features and plenty of space throughout, its interior quality isn't as nice as the Sportage’s. However, it offers much more cargo space than the Kia. Regardless, the RAV4 gets nearly identical fuel economy ratings, and it has a stronger engine than the Sportage. The Kia also has more responsive handling. It's safe to say that you're better off with the Sportage, and you'll save some money in the long run.

Compare the Sportage, Tucson, and CX-5 »

Sportage Interior

How Many People Does the Sportage Seat?

The Sportage seats five people. Both rows of seats are spacious enough for 6-foot passengers to ride comfortably. Drivers have plenty of visibility, and the rear seats recline, which is uncommon for this class.

Sportage and Car Seats

This Kia has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The lower anchors are set a little deep in the seat, but that’s the only real drawback to the Sportage’s LATCH system.

Sportage Interior Quality

Good luck finding something to complain about in the Sportage’s well-built cabin. It looks and feels upscale, and the materials quality is on par with some luxury vehicles.

Sportage Cargo Space

This Kia has less cargo space than some other compact SUVs, but it has some nifty cargo hold features. It provides just under 31 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is enough room for vacation luggage or some outdoor gear. Maximum capacity is just over 60 cubic feet, which gives you enough space for some small furniture items. The rear seats fold flat for easy cargo loading, and the cargo floor lifts up to reveal a hidden storage space or give you a little more room. A hands-free liftgate is available.

Sportage Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the 2018 Kia Sportage include a 5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with six speakers, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Available features include a panoramic sunroof, Kia’s UVO infotainment system, a 7- or 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a faster-charging USB port, navigation, and a Harman Kardon audio system.

The Sportage has a lengthy list of available features, including some – such as the smartphone connectivity options – that you can’t get in every rival. The touch-screen infotainment systems are intuitive and responsive, and screens are angled toward the driver so they’re easier to see.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Sportage Performance

Sportage Engine: Not This Kia’s Best Attribute

The Sportage’s base engine is a 181-horsepower four-cylinder that is fine for city driving but feels a little overmatched on the highway. A 240-horsepower turbo-four is available, and it has one of the highest horsepower ratings in the class. Despite all that power, however, it doesn’t feel as strong as it should.

Sportage Gas Mileage: Could Be Better

With the base engine, this Kia gets 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Those are subpar ratings for a compact SUV. They’re not the worst in the class, though, and you’ll spend about the same on gas each year driving the Sportage as you would the Toyota RAV4. However, you can save about $100 per year by driving the Mazda CX-5 instead.

Sportage Ride and Handling: Nimble and Smooth

The Sportage may not be the most agile vehicle in the class, but it’s more athletic than most other compact SUVs. It also has responsive steering and strong brakes. Some agile vehicles have stiff suspensions that compromise ride quality, but not this Kia. It soaks up road imperfections with ease.

Read more about performance »

Sportage Reliability

Is the Kia Sportage Reliable?

The 2018 Sportage has a predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power. That’s one of the highest ratings in our compact SUV rankings, matched only by the 2018 Ford Escape.

Kia Sportage Warranty

The Sportage has one of the best warranties of any compact SUV. It’s backed by 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 Kia Sportage earns a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, it only earns four out of five stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names it a 2018 Top Safety Pick and gives it the highest rating of Good in five crash safety tests.

Sportage Safety Features

The Sportage comes standard with a rearview camera. Available active safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, lane change assist, and automatic pre-collision braking.

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Sportage Model Is Right for Me?

There are three Sportage trims to choose from. The first two come with a four-cylinder engine, and the highest trim has a turbo-four. All come with front-wheel drive; you can add all-wheel drive to any trim for $1,500.

Even the base LX trim has a fair number of available features, so that’s a good option if you’re strapped for cash. If you want the turbocharged engine, then your only choice is the SX Turbo. If you’re open to anything, then the EX is probably the best value in the lineup. It offers just about every feature you can get in a Sportage (other than the turbo-four), and its starting price is several thousand below the SX Turbo’s.

Kia Sportage LX

The Sportage LX has a base price of $23,600. In addition to the standard features, you can add two option packages. The LX Popular package ($1,200) includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and the UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen.

The LX Technology package ($1,300) adds lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and autonomous emergency braking. However, to add the LX Technology package, you also have to add the LX Popular package.

Kia Sportage EX

The Sportage EX has a starting price of $26,400. In addition to the LX’s standard features, the EX comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and the UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen.

Available packages include the EX Premium package ($1,700), which adds a panoramic sunroof and a heated steering wheel. The EX Technology package ($2,900) adds lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, a hands-free power liftgate, a power-adjustable passenger seat, a Harman Kardon audio system, and the upgraded UVO system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

Kia Sportage SX Turbo

The Sportage SX Turbo is the highest trim, and it has a starting price of $32,900. This trim comes with the 240-horsepower turbocharged engine, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a Harman Kardon audio system, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, a power-adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and the upgraded UVO system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

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 2018 Kia Sportage specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Kia Sportage is a good little SUV that finishes just outside the top tier of our class rankings. It has many things that buyers want in an SUV, like roomy seats, plenty of tech features, and adept handling, but it has a few drawbacks as well, such as unimpressive engines and an undersized cargo hold. Still, if you’re shopping for a compact SUV, the Sportage is worth a look.

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

  • "It's hard to find style and versatility in the same place, but the redesigned Kia Sportage delivers on both counts. You'll like the number of features that Kia has packed into this small crossover, too. It's one of our top choices for 2017." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The fourth-generation Kia Sportage has an all-new look wrapping a stronger chassis festooned with more connectivity than you can shake a smart remote at." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • The 2017 Kia Sportage has made huge strides from the old version. Compared to our Four Seasons 2011 Sportage EX, the new car is roomier, more comfortable, better to drive, quieter, and much more handsome inside. It's a car we enjoy spending time with, and it really is a great value for money. Yet its so-so fuel efficiency puts a serious damper on how readily we'd recommend this car to people who need to save at the pump." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)
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