Thursday, September 25, 2014

2015 Kia Sportage: New Car Review

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, which is probably why the 2015 Kia Sportage isn't lacking in style, power or value. To say the Sportage is big on visual impact is an understatement. From its crisp, angular lines and taut proportions, to its available 18-inch wheels, the Sportage will have your friends saying, "That's really a Kia?"

The Sportage is more than just a pretty face. It's a truly compact crossover. While this means that cargo capacity is subpar, the benefits of downsizing are evident from behind the wheel. 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.

Other strengths include an available 260-horsepower turbocharged engine, which really puts the "Sport" in "Sportage." Throw in adequate backseat room and a wealth of standard and optional features, and it's clear that the Sportage's strong first impression is just the beginning.

What's New for 2015?
There are no major changes to the 2015 Kia Sportage.

What We Like
Distinctive looks; fun to drive; excellent optional turbocharged engine; available UVO voice-recognition system

What We Don't
Firm ride; fuel economy falling behind newer competitors; limited cargo capacity; narrow side glass creates blind spots

How Much?

Fuel Economy
The Sportage starts with a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine rated at 182 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission choice this year. Fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive model is rated at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive models earn a slightly lower 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.

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, and it delivers strong, lag-free acceleration that evokes fancier crossovers such as the BMW X3. Its fuel economy is impressive, considering all that thrust: 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Kia Sportage comes in three possible trims: LX, EX and SX.

The Sportage LX ($22,645) includes an automatic transmission, 17-in alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, audio controls on the steering wheel, a tilt-telescoping steering column, reclining rear seats, rear privacy glass, an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, USB/iPod interface, air conditioning and power functions for the windows, mirrors and door locks.

The Sportage EX ($26,045) adds 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, rear spoiler, auto headlights, rear backup sensors, a cooling glove box, heated side mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, one-touch driver's window, keyless entry, sun-visor illumination, Infinity premium audio, trip computer, a rear backup camera, UVO infotainment system, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and a power driver's seat with manual lumbar support.

The Sportage SX ($28,995) adds a 260-hp turbocharged engine, push-button start with Smart Key, HID headlights, LED daytime running lights and rear taillights, power-folding outside mirrors, voice-command navigation with a 7-in color touchscreen, and unique 18-in alloy wheels.

The LX can be equipped with the Popular package, which adds a trip computer, rear spoiler, rear backup sensors, roof rails, a rear backup camera and the UVO system. The EX Premium package adds leather seating, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, power-folding outside mirrors, ventilated front seats and Smart Key keyless entry with push-button start. The SX Luxury package adds the panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, leather interior and a garage door opener.

The Sportage offers standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, six airbags (front, front-side, full-length side curtain) and active front head restraints.

The 2015 Sportage was a standout in government crash testing, scoring a perfect five stars overall in both front- and side-impact tests. Likewise, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Sportage as Good in all categories.


Behind the Wheel
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. Add the turbocharged engine to the mix, and you'll really have some fun. The addition of sport dampers to all models means that ride quality may leave something to be desired, so make sure you find rough pavement on your test route to see if the Sportage's ride suits you. Similarly, at times road noise is more intrusive than we'd prefer.

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