2020 Kia Sportage

Performance


#6 out of 18 in Compact SUVs

$23,990 MSRP
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2020 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

The 2020 Kia Sportage nicely balances comfort and sportiness. Its base engine produces sufficient power for highway driving, and the turbocharged option ups its potency.

  • "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

A 181-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard in the Kia Sportage. The SX Turbo trim gains a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

Some critics find the base engine to be plenty powerful for everyday driving, while others say a little more passing power would be nice. The turbocharged engine feels more energetic, though some critics note that it still doesn’t feel as powerful as they’d like. The six-speed automatic makes smooth shifts.

At up to 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the base engine, this Kia's fuel economy estimates are slightly below average for the class. With the turbo engine, it gets up to 20/28 mpg.

  • "Although the 240-horsepower turbocharged SX may seem like the model to get because of its extra power, the standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 181 horsepower works just fine in the 2020 Kia Sportage. It has more than ample power, and the standard 6-speed automatic transmission is unobtrusive in its operation. The 2.4 also gets better fuel economy than the 2.0-liter turbo. But if you’re looking for outright acceleration, the turbocharged Sportage SX is the way to go." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • 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

It may not be the most athletic SUV in its class, but the Sportage’s responsive steering and balanced handling help it feel composed on winding roads. The ride is comfortable too, with the suspension easily soaking up road flaws. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "The electric-assist steering of all 2020 Sportages feels natural, and the suspension makes for a ride that’s comfortable and compliant without being floaty." -- 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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