2019 Kia Sportage

Performance


MSRP
$23,750
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

The 2019 Kia Sportage may not have the most energetic engines, but that doesn't mean it's boring to drive. Its handling is more composed than that of many competitors, and it delivers a cushioned ride even over rough roads. Fuel economy ratings lag behind most other compact SUVs.

  • "With the caveat that it's still a crossover, the Sportage SX is enjoyable to drive." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)
  • "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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Sportage comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 181 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine runs smoothly and feels fine in most driving situations, but it doesn't have much reserve power for highway passing and merging. Still, it should do fine for most drivers.

SX Turbo models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower in front-wheel-drive models and 237 horsepower in all-wheel-drive models. That's more power than you can get in almost any rivals' engine, but while that extra power certainly gives the Sportage more pep, it doesn't feel overly fast.

With the base engine, the Sportage gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Those aren't the worst estimates in the class, but most competitors are more fuel-efficient. Numbers drop to 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with the turbo-four engine.

  • "It'd be easy to just point to the 240-horsepower turbocharged Sportage SX as the model to get, thanks to its additional power, but the reality is that few will complain about the standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and its 181 horsepower. It's a surprisingly eager combination, with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission unobtrusive in its operation, just as it should be. The bonus is that it also gets notably better fuel economy than the turbo. That's not to say that the turbo's additional power isn't without its charms of course, and if you're looking for maximum acceleration, then the SX and its turbo engine are the way to go." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • 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 (2017)
  • 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 (2017)

Handling and Braking

While the Sportage can't match the athleticism of rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape, it still delivers an enjoyable driving experience. With responsive steering and composed handling, this Kia handles winding roads without issue. The brakes feel strong, and the ride remains smooth even over rough roads. This Kia comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "Kia has improved its electrically assisted power steering to the point where it feels more natural than before, and the suspension overall, even in SX models, is smoother than in the previous Sportage." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)
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2019 Kia Sportage

MSRP: $23,750 - $34,600

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