Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: 2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

What is it?
Kia's compact crossover occupies the sportier end of the segment thanks to its available 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine found in our loaner. Like other new turbocharged cars in Kia's lineup, it's actually down on power compared to the model it replaces. While it's not unusual for power levels to fluctuate between model years, a 20-horsepower dip coinciding with a redesign is a fairly significant departure. There's a torque deficit too, though not one quite so significant (260lb-ft vs. 269 in the outgoing model).

All Sportage models come standard with a six-speed automatic. Our turbo/all-wheel-drive combo is rated at 20 mpg in the city, 23 on the highway and 21 combined. Front-wheel drive models get a bump across the board to 21/26/23. It'll also tow up to 2,000lbs if your trailer has brakes. 

If you're familiar with the previous-gen Sportage, you may be aware that these fuel economy numbers are kind of a mixed bag. While the engine tune may be slightly less aggressive than it was prior, the powerplant has been saddled with more work to do. Across the range, the 2017 Sportage has gained quite a bit of weight--330lbs in our tester, in fact.

This, then, is probably a good time to mention the advantages of the Sportage's new platform. While it hasn't gotten appreciably bigger, the new Sportage does boast a longer wheelbase. Since its fundamental suspension architecture is also shared with Hyundai and Kia midsize sedans, the combination of extra space between the axles and a multi-link rear suspension means ride quality improvements. There's also a tad more legroom both front and rear, but the biggest improvement comes in the rear cargo area, where the new Sportage has gained 4 cubic feet of space with the rear bench up (6 cubes with them folded flat). 

What's it up against?
The Sportage has sold surprisingly poorly in a class which includes the Mazda CX-5Toyota RAV4Honda CR-VNissan RogueChevrolet Equinox and others. Our tester is aimed at the performance end of the segment, taking the fight to the Ford Escapes, Subaru Foresters and V6-powered offerings in the segment. Kia is hoping its revisions will help improve sales on a model which, for context, was outsold by the Mazda CX-5 in 2015 by a margin of more than two-to-one. 

And that was in a year where the Sportage saw a 25% increase in volume.

What does it look like?
Worse. The old Sportage may not have been a supermodel, but it looked fine. Somehow, we can't help but feel like the 2017 represents a pretty substantial downgrade in that department. Where the outgoing Sportage was perhaps a bit bland and unremarkable, the new one has gone a little too far in the other direction. 

The new grille treatment was expected, and it aligns just fine with the rest of Kia's lineup. The bulging ridges on the hood aren't exactly subtle, but they're forgivable. After that, things get a little... weird.

Let's start with the headlamps. They've crept rearward and lost their angled, sharp outlines. They're far more organic, and top-end models take that look a step further with some almost insect-like bulb design. The etymological theme continues in the fog lamps, where a set of rounded square LEDs sits rather prominently in the top of each housing. 

Those thirsting for convention will find it in the Sportage's side profile and rear end. From the side, the Sportage looks entirely normal, with a rising body line leaving the front quarter panel near the top of the fender arch and rising along the lower edge of the greenhouse and terminating just above the wrap-around tail lamps. A complementary line rises from the front door panel near the bottom of the fender, terminating mid-way up the rear fender arch. Nothing crazy here.

The story is the same out back. Our SX boasted a rather pronounced spoiler, a stainless-look skidplate finish, dual exhaust outlets and a single piece of bright trim connecting the taillights below the rear glass. It's a surprisingly angular finish to a design that starts off so flowing in the front. That's not a bad thing, mind you. In fact, we think the Sportage looks best when viewed from the rear 3/4 angle. 

And the inside?
The 2017 Sportage has an interior to be proud of. This is an area in which Kia has really come a long way in the last six or seven years, upgrading both its materials and design to deliver something that is much more in line with the upper-tier offerings in its cars' respective classes. 

The center console and stack both received significant overhauls, with the former losing some of its arbitrary shape-within-a-shape look in favor of a cleaner, more consistent look with less variance in materials and finish. Below the shifter, you'll find toggles for drive mode, hill descent control, the center differential lock and park assist. 

Moving upward, gloss black trim surrounds the primary climate and HVAC controls. An in-set pillar on the driver's side gives the impression of a floating panel. The touchscreen sits front and center, and gone are the back-swept air vents and, again, the contrasting trim pieces. It's a much cleaner, more focused look all around. 

Our SX model also showed off a few unique touches, including a flat-bottomed, "SX"-branded steering wheel with integrated paddle shifters--a nice addition. Oh, and did we mention it's heated?

Kia is also on top of the smartphone integration game. Many of its models already support Apple CarPlay, with Android Auto on the way via updates to existing hardware (read: a trip to the dealership), and the Sportage is no exception.

Overall, we were very pleased with the Sportage's interior, but what really impressed us the most was how few hoops you're required to jump through to get it. Our loaner had zero--count 'em, zero--additional packages or bundles. In fact, the only option on this trim is all-wheel drive. It's nice, for once, not to see features like autonomous driving aids or a panoramic sunroof bundled into "chase" packages designed to get you to spend $2,800 just for one must-have feature. 

But does it go?
The old Sportage SX was reasonably engaging to pilot. It had its faults (especially in the steering), but its relatively light weight and ample power made for a worthwhile drive. 

The 2017 has improved on this in some ways, but taken steps back in others. We touched on the weight gain before, but this is where it really matters. The added mass likely contributes to the new car's quieter and more sedate highway demeanor, but it also makes the car feel more sluggish off the line. Remember, too, that the new car is down on power. 

We'd have to run them side-by-side to find out just how much of that sensation is simply in our heads, but we could not get over how much less punchy the new model feels off the line, Sport driving mode or no Sport driving mode.

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.

Leftlane's bottom line
The 2017 Sportage isn't quite a game-changer, but it's building upon a package that was already pretty darned good. With our enthusiast hats on, we'd prefer the outgoing model, but for the average consumer, the 2017's formula seems to be right on the money. The question is, can they sell them?

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD base price, $34,000; as-tested; $34,895
Destination, $895


Friday, May 27, 2016

2016 Kia Soul Named One Of The 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 By Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com

Kia Motors America's (KMA) funky urban commuter, the 2016 Soul, has again been named as one of the 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 according to Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. This year marks the Soul's fifth consecutive appearance on the list, which features some of the most fun-to-drive and fun-to-own vehicles on the market. Once again, Kelley Blue Book editors chose the Soul based on its head-turning style, extensive feature content, and excellent value. With a base price of $15,900[1], the Soul offers wagon-based practicality, plenty of passenger room, and a feature-rich interior.

"The Soul's fun and funky personality is infectious, and the fact that it's been a mainstay on Kelley Blue Book's list of 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 is a clear indication that the Soul offers the perfect blend of style and substance," said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning KMA.

For 2016, the Soul gains even more style with a new Designer Collection package, which plays up the hatchback's fun-loving attitude with a two-tone paint scheme and other unique elements. The optional Umber Color Package also now benefits from HID projector headlights. The Soul's high level of content also increases with two newly available convenience features: Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) and Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)[2]. Both are included in a new Premium Package which also includes navigation, an upgraded Infinity® audio system[3], string-LED front speaker surround mood lighting, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front driver and passenger seats, seat heaters for all four outboard positions, a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, and a leather-wrapped gearshift knob.

"The Kia Soul's future-industrial design still turns heads, but that's only part of its cool quotient," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. "A low starting price, impressive standard equipment and yes-I-can cargo versatility make it as smart as it is stylish."

Available in three trim levels (Base, Plus, Exclaim), the Base Soul comes standard with a gasoline direct injection (GDI) 1.6-liter all-aluminum DOHC four-cylinder engine that makes 130 horsepower (at 6,300 rpm) and 118 lb.-ft. of torque (at 4,850 rpm). Plus and Exclaim models enjoy the more powerful 2.0-liter NU power plant with GDI technology. Power is rated at 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque at a 4,000 rpm. The 1.6-liter engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The Plus and Exclaim models are available exclusively with the six-speed automatic gearbox.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

LA Clippers Contest Will Award 2016 Kia Optima to Deserving Student

The LA Clippers and Kia Motors America are joining together reward one deserving high school senior or college student in the greater Los Angeles area for his or her efforts in education. Thanks to the new LA Clippers’ Kia College Contest, an all-new 2016 Kia Optima LX will be given to a lucky student.

From now until Friday, June 10th, students in the LA area can nominate themselves or other students to win this award-winning sedan by visiting www.clippers.com/kia.

This contest is open to graduating high school seniors who are 16 years of age or older and current college students. To earn the Optima LX, the student must describe why he or she deserves to win and how winning will help pave their road to success. Each entry will be judged to determine its quality, originality, and uniqueness. The winner will then be selected on June 14th.

“At Kia, we are true fans of basketball and know that the Los Angeles Clippers have a passionate fan base,” said Tim Chaney, Vice President of Marketing Communications for Kia Motors America. “Education is a core pillar of Kia’s philanthropic efforts and we look forward to handing over the key to our award-winning Optima to the winning student.”

The winner for the LA Clippers’ Kia College Contest will be announced in late June. This isn’t the first time that Kia has worked with an NBA team—as the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA, the South Korean carmaker frequently works together with the organization. The Kia Optima is also known as the Official Vehicle of the Los Angeles Clippers, which makes it the perfect prize for an unsuspecting LA teen.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2017 Kia Sorento Earns Five-Star Safety Rating From Federal Government

The 2017 Kia Sorento SUV earned the highest five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On sale now at Kia dealerships, the carryover 2017 Sorento received five stars in the front and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover crash test.

The rating applies to front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the 2017 Sorento.

Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Sorento includes six airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control and vehicle stability management. Optional safety equipment includes blind-spot detection, forward-collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not rated the 2017 Kia Sorento.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kia Sportage survives own past, thrives in tough segment

The Kia Sportage compact crossover is a survivor.

It survived its own build-quality issues (one generation was recalled twice for its tendency to shed its rear wheels). It survived the collapse of Kia, which led to its absorption by Hyundai. And it survived a two-year hiatus during which it morphed from truck-based SUV to sedan-based crossover.

The Sportage debuted in 1993 but didn’t become a serious competitor until 2011. Now, the fourth-generation 2017 Sportage lands with a roomier cabin, a stiffer unibody, a new suspension and a look bold enough to worry the competition.

The new look packs an unruly number of creases and curves into the Sportage’s compact frame. Swept-back headlights flank a sharply contoured hood. The front fascia grows deeper to improve engine-bay cooling and accommodate oversized fog lamp housings. In the top SX Turbo trim, a quartet of “ice cube” LED fog lamps glower like machine-gun ports.

Other updates include new driver-assistance systems, seriously improved interior materials and the latest generation of Kia’s UVO telematics and infotainment system, which adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

If there were a most-improved award, Sportage would be a contender.

High-strength steel comprises 51 percent of its unibody, up from 18 percent. Torsional rigidity jumps 39 percent. A host of sound-deadening measures — thicker side-window glass, soundproofing in the doors and wheel arches and new rear suspension bushings — work magic inside.

Sportage is quieter, sturdier and better-riding than ever.
It has also grown some. Overall length is up 1.6 inches and the wheelbase is longer by 1.2 inches. These changes boost headroom and legroom for passengers in both rows. Second-row seating has been tweaked for improved headroom and a more comfortable seating position.

Last year’s engine choices return. The base engine is a normally aspirated 2.4-liter four that makes 181 horsepower and has been retuned for improved fuel efficiency. The optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four makes 240 hp in FWD trim and 237 hp with AWD and is tuned for improved mid-range torque.

Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic that goes about its work in a work-a-day fashion. It’s not especially quick nor intuitive, but it’s nearly always in the right gear for the situation.

Name aside, there’s not much sport to the Kia Sportage. Heavier in its fourth-gen guise than before, it’s also more softly suspended and is clearly tuned for comfort. Buyers seeking off-road chops should look elsewhere, as well; the “metal-look” skid plates on my top-of-the-line SX Turbo tester would faint dead at the first sign of rocks.

Nevertheless, Sportage offers real value in a segment that’s all about value. The competition includes a selection of the industry’s best-selling vehicles, but the Sportage is a survivor. And these days the wheels stay on.

Errata: In last week’s review of the Lincoln MKX, we mistakenly referred to a third row of seats. The MKX is a two-row midsize crossover, with room for five adults.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Kia Sportage: Two-Minute Road Test

The Sportage is Kia’s best-selling car in the UK, meaning this fourth-generation model has a tough act to follow. The recipe is a familiar one: a five-seat family SUV with a choice of diesel and petrol engines, plenty of equipment and a long warranty. We’ve tested the 114hp 1.7-litre diesel in modest ‘2’ spec – priced at £22,050.

What are its rivals?
This is one of the most hotly-contested areas of the new-car market. The Kia’s rivals include the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Renault Kadjar and Volkswagen Tiguan. It also squares up to the mechanically-identical Hyundai Tucson, which is better looking (to our eyes, at least), but comes with a shorter warranty (five years, versus seven for the Kia).

Which engines does it use?
Our 114hp Sportage 1.7 diesel gets to 62mph in 11.1 seconds and returns 61.4mpg in official tests. Pay around £2,300 more for the 134hp 2.0 diesel and those figures drop to 10.1 seconds and 54.3mpg respectively. There are also 130hp and 174hp 1.6 petrols – the latter with a turbocharger. And you can choose from six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.

What’s it like to drive?
The Sportage’s high driving position offers a commanding view of the road ahead, although visibility to the sides and rear isn’t so good. Its controls are light and nicely-weighted, and suspension effectively cushions you from speed humps and potholes. However, the pay-off is more body-roll than some rivals when cornering. The engine has plenty of low-down oomph and performance feels adequate for a car of this type. It sounds quite gruff, though – even when warmed-up.

Fuel economy and running costs
The Sportage is relatively cheap to buy, but running costs could be higher than many competitors. The 1.7 diesel manages 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km – equating to car tax (VED) of £30 a year. Compare that to the 110hp Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi, which ekes out 74.3mpg and a tax-free 99g/km.

Is it practical?
Space is one of the Sportage’s strengths. It can accommodate five adults with ease (there’s no seven-seat option), and reclining rear seats add a touch of luxury-car comfort. The 491-litre boot is one of the largest in the class, with a low lip and square tailgate making it easy to load large objects.

What about safety?
As you’d hope, the Kia scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Mindful of the car’s potential for driving off-road, Hill-Start Assist and Downhill Brake Control are standard, along with Trailer Stability Assist for towing. Our ‘2’ spec car also gets automatic headlights and Lane-Keep Assist, but you’ll need to upgrade to the top-spec ‘4’ for Automatic Emergency Braking.

Which version should I go for?
Diesel engines make most sense in SUVs, and the entry-level 1.7-litre unit tested here is perfectly up to the job. Considering its cost and efficiency advantages over the larger 2.0 diesel, it looks like the obvious choice. Kia offers virtually no extra-cost options (apart from paint colour), so you need to choose your spec-level carefully. We think ‘2’ offers everything you need, including sat nav, dual-zone air conditioning and a rear-view camera.

Kia Sportage: Should I buy one?
The latest Sportage builds on the strengths of the outgoing car, with good road manners, lots of space and impressive value for money. Shame they made it uglier in the process; the old Sportage was a bit of a looker. It wouldn’t be our first choice in this closely-fought class (the Renault Kadjar is currently top of our list), but it’s certainly a strong contender – especially for buyers on a budget.

Pub fact
Kia may be a relatively new name in Europe, but the marque has existed since 1944. For many years, Kia built bicycles – its first car (a rebadged Mazda) didn’t appear until 1974. It’s now Korea’s second largest car manufacturer, after parent company Hyundai.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage: An actual fun-to-drive crossover

Kia, the South Korean automaker that was initially scoffed at by car buyers, has had an incredible couple of decades, with constant growth throughout and a march toward respectability. I recently tested out one of their latest offerings, the 2017 Kia Sportage, and I’m back with a rundown of the key things you need to know about this crossover offering from the upstart automaker.


Many vehicles that label themselves as SUVs (sport utility vehicles) are anything but sporty. But thankfully that wasn’t the case here, as the 2017 Sportage is quite impressive in this regard. To be frank (and subliminally quote Shania Twain), most crossovers of this size don’t impress me much with how they perform. But this is one of the few exceptions to that rule in the class.


If you are on a budget and want an SUV with no frills, you can get a 2017 Sportage from $22,990. Even my test vehicle with all the frills came in at just over $33,000. These are very good numbers that will boost Sportage sales numbers as it competes in a segment against such crossover heavyweights as the Ford Escape and the Honda CR-V.


There is an extensive redesign of the exterior of the 2017 Sportage, and you’ll either love it or hate it. … Honestly, I felt differently about it day to day, but in the end I was mostly a fan of the design. One thing that will stand out is the unique look of the front headlights, which are unlike anything you’ve seen on other vehicles. The design may drive some away, but shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most if you like how it drives.


List most compact SUVs, you’re going to have a bit of a tight squeeze in the Sportage, but the good news is the 2017 Sportage is a little bit better than the 2016 model in terms of space due to the redesign.


One thing Kia does well is offer a 10-year, 100K warranty on the powertrain; and a 5-year, 60K overall warranty. Translation: Peace of mind and less worrying for those who buy these vehicles.


Plenty of helpful safety features are offered on the Sportage (blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, etc.) that can help make the Sportage a vehicle you feel confident in when getting the family from place to place.


The Sportage SX model I tested featured a premium audio system from industry stalwart Harman Kardon that music lovers will truly enjoy.


The panoramic sunroof, standard on the SX trim line and running the length of the roof, is a sharp look that stands out and enhances the overall attractiveness of the vehicle.


One of the tradeoffs of having such a fun, sporty ride on the Sportage is that fuel economy suffers compared to other crossovers that may not be as much fun to drive. Official numbers on my test vehicle were 21 city, 26 highway, and 23 combined, which are not impressive in the category. Crossover buyers will have to choose whether ride quality is more important than the mpg, or vice versa, and that will play a factor in whether they choose the Sportage or some of its rivals.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hyundai and Kia to Produce Low-cost SUVs to Compete with Chinese Rivals

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors are set to launch three low-cost sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in China next year, people privy to the plans told Reuters.

The report said that it was the first time that the South Korean automakers will be making cheaper cars to attract Chinese consumers after their attempt to sell older models was weakened by the surge of local brands.

According to company data, the rise of Chinese rivals such as Great Wall Motor has caused the market share of Hyundai and Kia to drop to a seven-year low of 8.9 percent last year, from 10.4 percent in 2014. Data from IHS Automotive showed that it was the biggest drop in annual sales among China's top 10 automakers.

Hyundai and Kia rank third among automakers in China, with Volkswagen and General Motors leading the pack.

Chinese brands, however, are now taking their share after learning from Hyundai and making sleek, smaller but affordable models. The drop in oil prices has shifted the competition from sedans to SUVs, the report said.

Hyundai will start building a compact SUV at its factory in Changzhou in Nov. 2017 and a subcompact SUV at its new Chongqing factory in 2018, while Kia will produce its mid-sized SUV in China next year.

Another source also said that the two companies will try to lower their costs by getting Chinese suppliers for cheaper and low-spec parts. They also plan to step up local engineering in a joint research and development center in Yantai.

In a statement emailed to Reuters, the two automakers said that they are "internally examining from various sides to develop differentiated SUVs that give customers a more practical value by continuing in our cost-cutting efforts," and plans to "realign its line-up to range from lower-priced models to high-end cars to respond to demands from diverse customer bases."

The two automakers, however, were cautioned by some industry experts on making low-end SUVs that could damage their brand reputation in the long-term.

Hyundai said that together with KIA, they will increase the production capacity through the planned Chinese plants by nearly 30 percent to 2.7 million vehicles a year in 2018.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Apple CarPlay arrives on Kia vehicles starting with Sportage, Optima

IRVINE, Calif., May 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Adding to the constant evolution in telematics and infotainment, Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced that the 2017 Sportage and 2016 Optima, when equipped with a compatible navigation system[3] or UVO3[4], will be offered with Apple CarPlay® compatibility when the vehicles arrive at Kia retailers during the second quarter. Additionally, customers who have previously purchased the 2017 Sportage or 2016 Optima equipped with a compatible navigation[5] system or UVO3 will be provided with a downloadable update via myuvo.com that will be available beginning in the third quarter. Currently on sale, the 2017 Sorento is the first Kia vehicle to be offered with CarPlay®[6] support and other models in the Kia lineup eligible for the CarPlay® update will be announced at a later date.

"The arrival of CarPlay® compatibility follows on a promise we made when Optima launched last year. These running changes and available downloads will seamlessly bring iPhone's easy-to-use interface and functionality to our newest and best-selling models," said Henry Bzeih, Managing Director Connected & Mobility Services, KMA. "Kia is taking the UVO platform to yet another level of enhancement by extending the customer's personal mobility technologies safely and easily into a Kia vehicle. CarPlay® will bring an additional element of convenience while maximizing the benefits of connectivity."

A smarter and more convenient way to use the iPhone® in the car, CarPlay® gives drivers the ability to access the device's seamless user interface through Kia's UVO infotainment system. By connecting the iPhone® into the USB port, users are able to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimized for traffic conditions and more while staying focused on the road. CarPlay® also features hands-free support via Siri®[1] voice control or the vehicle's controls and touchscreen.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kia Motors’ Sportage selling like hot cakes

The new Sportage, a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) of South Korea’s automaker Kia Motors Corp., has been selling like hot cakes in the U.K. and the U.S. According to the automobile industry on Friday, the new Sportage made the top 10 best-selling car list for the first time in the U.K. in February with the sales of 1,521 units. The sales in April almost doubled to 3,167 units from February. The automaker started to sell the SUV in February and the car has swept the country since then for three months.

Thanks to the sales boost, Kia’s market share in the U.K has recorded all-time high for three years. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the automaker had 3.62 percent market share in April, the highest since July in 2013. The carmaker’s market share came to 0.82 percent in 2003 when it started to sell cars in the U.K. market. The market share exceeded 2 percent for the first time in 2009. It reached a record high of 3.26 percent in 2012 and it has continued to slightly decrease over the last few years.

The new Sportage has also fared well in the U.S. market. The automaker sold 56,508 units in the U.S. in April, up 6.1 percent on year. In particular, 7,645 units of the Sprotage were selling in April, up 78.9 percent from last year. In the Chinese market, the car fell short of the expectation in March but more than 7,800 units of the car were sold in April.

“The 4th generation Sprotage has gained popularity in foreign markets thanks to its performance and design and, with the globally growing popularity of SUV, we expect to see the sales increase more in the U.K,” said an official of the automaker.


Summer is on us this year!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kia Sportage named best diesel

ONLY a few months after its launch the all-new Kia Sportage has been crowned with a significant accolade by becoming the Diesel Car Magazine Car of the Year.

The fourth generation Kia Sportage bettered the competition due to its excellent specification levels, even on low grade vehicles, including Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and satellite navigation.

This coupled with its dynamic handling and distinctive design, made this family crossover a clear choice for the top spot.

The Sportage was also voted the best medium sized SUV by the magazine.

The Sportage strong points were its competitive prices with the range starting from £17,995 and the lead-in diesel, the1.7 CRDi 6-speed manual version, at £19,745 - all covered by the brand's industry leading seven year warranty.

Kia's new crossover, which was introduced to the UK market in February, has already seen impressive sales success with more than 14,000 customers placing orders in just four months.

Editor and publisher of Diesel Car, Ian Robertson, said: "The Sportage won the top spot because of its generous equipment levels, keen prices and excellent road manners, which means that the Sportage leapfrogs the competition to sit at the very top of the class."

Paul Philpott, president and chief executive of Kia Motors (UK) said: "We are delighted and honoured to get this tremendous accolade from Diesel Car. Clearly new Sportage is a big winner with customers and Diesel Car's endorsement only reinforces the car's success."


Monday, May 16, 2016

Day-by-Day Review: 2016 Kia Rio 5-door

Day 1 | Day 2

For under $20,000 the interior of the Kia Rio is a nice looking place to be. The design is visually appealing, yet simple and ergonomically well laid out. The materials used are par for the course in the sub-compact class of vehicle and in this price range but they are mostly hard plastics.

At the very least they could provide a soft place to rest one’s elbow on the door panel. That said there is a centre armrest with some padding: an option that many competitors in this price range omit all together. There is also storage in said arm rest to hide or store smaller items.

This is a small car but it is impressively large inside. Front seat space is as expected and I wouldn’t see anyone but friendly giants complaining about lack of space, but what is really surprising is the amount of headroom in the rear. Even leg room in the backseats seemed reasonable to me, I did not feel squashed at all, considering the total size of the car it is impressive.

That theme continues to the trunk, the hatch floor is extremely low, when I opened that hatch for the first time I was blown away with the available storage space. Add in the fact that the hatch is a large opening and the back seats fold 60/40 nearly flat the amount of space really is incredible.

Back up front in the driver’s seat which is adjustable fore-aft, height and tilt makes for a comfortable driving position. The tilt/telescopic wheel adds even more adjust-ability and the steering wheel offers radio and cruise control settings at the driver’s finger tips.

Day 1 | Day 2

It’s been awhile since I’ve test driven a Kia. This is a good thing since they are one of those manufacturers that are constantly improving their vehicles, so here is a chance for me to get a good sense of how they have improved over the last few years since I’ve been behind the wheel of one.

My tester is a Kia Rio 5-Door, the Rio5 name is no more, although they still use it oddly on their website in one spot. That brings me to Kia’s website, if you don’t know what you want I don’t understand how you learn anything on their website, just a bunch of pictures with no info, but I’ll digress.

The 2016 Rio comes with a 1.6-litre “GDI” (gasoline direct injection) engine that produces 137 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque which is decently powered for a small platform such as this. The SX model I’m driving starts at just over $19,000 and currently has $2,500 on the hood if you pay cash, not bad.

My tester is a manual transmission (six-speed) which is most likely not the volume seller as most will opt for the automatic, but the features are plentiful for the price range. The SX is equipped with leather seats, a heated steering wheel, back-up camera, cruise control, automatic climate control, proximity key and push button start and 17-inch alloy wheels.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kia partners with the Telegraph to ensure Euro 2016 sponsorship is a win

Havas Media UK has brokered a deal between Euro 2016 sponsor Kia and The Telegraph, designed to associate the car brand with football in the build-up to and throughout the tournament.

To kick off the campaign there will be four events across the country at Kia dealerships – in Bolton, London, Bridgend Wales and Burton. The events have been timed to correlate with key events in the run-up to the Euros such as the England warm-up matches and squad announcements.

The events will feature high profile figures in football including John Barnes, Stuart Pearce, Dean Saunders, Garry Monk and Neil Lennon with the events all fronted by TV presenter Sue Thearle. To showcase the Kia Sportage, football talent will be asked for their tournament predictions, players and teams to look out for from the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Content captured at the dealerships will be published on the Telegraph website and social channels. Selected guests attending the preview events will be offered the chance to win tickets to the opening match of Euro 2016.

The second phase of the campaign, taking place as the tournament gets underway, will follow Telegraph sports writer Thom Gibbs on a road trip to France in a Kia Sportage. It will see Gibbs capturing the build-up, game results and fan reactions in a 36 day video series - Thom Voyage! - hosted on the Telegraph website and shared channels.

To further drive interaction with the campaign, the Telegraph has created a bespoke Kia penalty shoot-out game, offering a chance to win a Kia Sportage. The game launches today (11 May), and is fronted by ex-England Goalkeeper David James. It will be promoted across Telegraph platforms.

To close the campaign, there will be a series of features showcasing the best moments from the competition. These will run alongside high impact, tactical display activity at key moments throughout the tournament, celebrating, commiserating and congratulating teams on their performance.

Natasha Murray, managing director at Havas Media said: “Kia’s association with football and the Telegraph’s fantastic sports journalism make this a great brand fit. The Euros are a key date in the sporting calendar and we are thrilled to have brokered such a fitting collaboration. ”

Simon Hetherington, commercial director at Kia said: “Kia has a strong link with football. Euro 2016 this summer will ensure that as a brand we will gain cut-through with new consumers and current Kia owners.”

Keith Perry, group sport managing editor at Telegraph Media Group said: “The Telegraph Media Group is the number one place for sport, with an array of talent producing award-winning coverage. Alongside our newly relaunched website and video capability, this means we’re able to work with brands to create truly innovating and engaging content.”


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Millennials, The Kia Soul is Perfect for You: Review

“Millennials.” The word has been a popular term amongst marketing types for years. These 19 to 35 year-olds form the largest US generation ever, yet also span the gamut in terms of stages of life. Some recently entered college, others have been in the working world for over a decade.

The millennial, therefore, is a moving target and a remarkably hard nut to crack (and sell to), but not an impossible one. And for Korean automaker Kia, it sure seems the company has found its niche with the Soul crossover, its second most popular model sold in the US last year.

What the Kia Soul does very well is that it excels at being every thing to every person—a plus among a vastly diverse Millennial market. It’s a nice mix of small car sportiness and everyday usability, all within a reasonable budget. The Fast and the Frugal, if you will.

Driving Dynamics

Now I won’t say anyone’s going to lose sleep choosing between a brand-new MX-5 and the well-planted Kia Soul, but hear me out—this car is a fun little driver! The nimble Soul feels light and chuck-able when on a twisty backroad; I even surprised myself with how well-rounded and sporty the suspension felt, if a bit on the firm side. Steering is electric power-assisted, and though you may not get lots of feel through the system, turning in is sharp and very precise.

On long expanses of never-ending highway the Kia Soul performs great as well. The six-speed automatic transmission is a peach and readily shifts down when passing. And unlike some subcompacts at speed, you aren’t inundated with laborious high-rev engine drone at 70 mph. The small 2.0-liter engine sits at a reasonable cruising rpm—no valves tap-dancing off the hood here. A six-speed manual comes standard in base models, paired with a smaller 1.6-liter four-cylinder.

Put your foot hard to the floor at low speeds and the 164 horsepower engine (this car is a Kia Soul +, or ‘Plus’) flicks through the gears quite swiftly. Kia says the Soul nets 23 mpg in the city and 31 mph on the highway, and based on my experience that sounds about right. For the millennial penny-pinchers amongst you—let’s admit it, many of us exist—the Soul also tacks on an ‘Eco’ mode which moves shift points lower and helps to eek out the best fuel efficiency possible.

Features and Styling

But enough about how it drives, the Kia Soul is a nice place to be. My + model came brimming with infotainment, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, a fantastic navigation system, and a great sound system too. Pump the bass and the lower front speakers glow to the beat, a neat little feature. My test car also featured Kia’s huuuge Panoramic Sunroof, though during my rainy stay in Michigan all I saw were miles and miles of raindrops and clouds. Californians, there’s a feature for you.

Inside, the trimmings, upscale finishes, and tech make it feel like a very premium vehicle, but shhh… my well-equipped + model cost just under $24,000.

Despite the Soul’s rather diminutive exterior size, there’s quite a lot of space inside, both for cargo and passengers. Millennials in school, you can probably move in-and-out of your apartment in just a couple trips or ferry around four of your closest friends in reasonable comfort. Millennials with three kids, the rear seat is comfy, and though it doesn’t quite fold flat, it does reveal a rather capacious trunk space.

Up front, the driving position and seat feel superb (I’m 6’2”) and with this car’s optional Primo package the seat came electronically adjustable, as well as heated and ventilated. I also fit in the back seats comfortably, though taller folks will want to sit up front.

While I was never in love with the styling of the original Kia Soul—I thought it was a bit small-car shouty—the latest-generation is a big upgrade and looks fully grown-up, cleaner, and upscale.

The Verdict

Saying the Kia Soul + is a “one-size-fits-all car” would honestly be selling it short. The Soul leaves great impressions on a number of fronts, with few to no compromises. It’s inexpensive; base models start at just $15,900. It’s fun to drive; seriously, drive one on a twisty road. And it appeals to both the young professional and the young family alike.

For millennials currently on the car hunt, I would take a serious look at this Kia five-door, it really does have some heart and soul (pardon the pun). Now if only Kia would build the Soul Trail’ster concept for us off-road enthusiasts…


Friday, May 13, 2016

Kia Motors America and B.R.A.K.E.S. Expand Hands-On Defensive Driving Education Throughout Southern California

IRVINE, Calif., May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Due to overwhelming public interest, B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) and Kia Motors America (KMA) are expanding the Teen Pro-Active Driving School throughout Southern California in an effort to help reduce the high rate of motor vehicle accidents involving teenage drivers. In a region with approximately 750,000 potential new drivers between the ages of 16 and 20,2 B.R.A.K.E.S. training programs will be conducted beginning late May in Costa Mesa, Pomona, San Diego and Fontana. According to a recent study, teens who complete the B.R.A.K.E.S. program are 64 percent less likely to be involved in an accident in their first three years of driving,1 and 84 percent of all B.R.A.K.E.S. graduates since 2011 had no crashes.

"The leading cause of death for American teens is motor vehicle crashes, and our mission is to prevent injuries and save lives by providing young drivers with the real-life driving experience they need in a safe and controlled environment," said Doug Herbert, founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. and recipient of the Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). "Teaching young drivers how to manage potentially dangerous conditions gives them an advantage should they ever encounter similar situations on the road."

Participating teens and their parents will receive hands-on defensive driving education from B.R.A.K.E.S.' team of highly skilled professional instructors, which includes former race car drivers, stunt drivers and secret service agents. Instruction, in vehicles provided by Kia, includes a distracted driving course, handling emergency braking situations — utilizing anti-lock braking systems, evasive maneuvering and skid-control practice. The program adheres to a low three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio to ensure personal attention is provided to every driver. Parents also participate in the courses to ensure proper driving techniques are reinforced long-term after the training is completed.

Kia is the Official Vehicle and presenting sponsor of the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School and provides a fleet of more than 40 vehicles. With Kia's support, B.R.A.K.E.S. continues to increase the number of schools offered and expand into new markets.

"Kia places a priority on vehicle safety, and our partnership with B.R.A.K.E.S. reflects our commitment to keep drivers safe on the road, which begins with practical, hands-on driving experience," said Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications, KMA. "The B.R.A.K.E.S. program has been proved to improve driving skills and help teens make better decisions when behind the wheel. Even if one accident is prevented as a result of this training, that's a win."

The B.R.A.K.E.S. Training Curriculum includes the following:

•Accident Avoidance/Slalom: This forces students to make a split-second decision to execute a quick, evasive lane change when encountering an unexpected object without losing control of the vehicle. Students must navigate their vehicle around cones while focusing on weight transfer, hand positioning and eye scanning.

•Distracted Driving: The course demonstrates the danger that cell phones, text messaging, and other distractions can pose while driving.

•Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery: The drop-wheel recovery course teaches students how to effectively recover when one or more of their wheels veers off the road surface and onto the shoulder, regaining control of the car and safely returning to the roadway.

•Panic Stop: The panic-stop course instructs students on proper braking techniques to help stop a vehicle in the shortest distance possible while maintaining control. Students and their parents experience firsthand the pulsating brake pedal effects of Antilock Brake Systems (ABS) and how to control the vehicle when ABS is engaged.

•Car Control and Recovery: A wet skid pad simulates wet-road conditions. Students learn how to recover from both oversteer (rear wheel) and understeer (front wheel) skids.

•Other learning experiences vary by school but can include an eye-opening view from the driver's seat of a big-rig truck with a discussion about safe zones and blind spots, as well as demonstrations from police and fire-rescue agencies.


2016 Chevrolet Sonic vs Kia Rio: Best Car For $15,000 Is…

If you have a small budget of $15,000 to purchase a brand new car, what would your choice be? For us, we have narrowed down our search to the Chevrolet Sonic and Kia Rio. Today, we will see which car deserves our $15,000.

The base Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback LS retails at $14,945 but it can be owned for $14,571. As for the Rio Hatchback LX, it has a sticker price of $15,495 but you can get one for $15,000 flat. While the Rio is slightly more expansive than the Sonic, it is the latter that has the bigger interior space.

The seats are more comfortable on the Sonic and the car has got a larger cargo area. However, when the rear seats are folded down, the Rio has got more cargo to offer.

Under the hood, the Sonic relies on a 1.8L 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine that is packed with 138hp and 125ft-lbs of torque. The Sonic can also return up to 38mpg in fuel economy. The Rio is powered by a 1.6L 4-pot unit with 138hp and 123ft-lbs of torque to offer. The Rio is rated to return 38mpg at best.

Based on the above, we would opt for the Kia Rio instead of the Sonic. While the Rio has slightly less power, it has better fuel economy figures. What would your pick be?


Thursday, May 12, 2016

10 Cars Mostly Bought By Women

There cars which have buying patterns which shows 90% of them are bought by men. There is a similar list for women, although the percentage is not has high. Women tend to buy small SUVs and cars which get very high gas mileage. And, for some unknown reason, cars built in South Korea

The list of cars primarily bought by women is based on a large research study:

1.The Hyundai Tuscon bought 66.2% by women, can cost as much as $38,000 with a long list of accessories. The base version gets extremely good gas mileage for a crossover at 33 MPG for highway driving. It small 4 cylinder engine can put out 175 HP

2. The Nissan Versa, bought 64% by women comes as both a small, low performance sedan and as a more upscale version called the Note. Nissan boasts it can carry 5 people, although it is must be crowded.

3. The VW Beetle, bought 63.9% by women, may be a hard sell based on VW’s diesel scandal which has ripped into the German company’s U.S. sales. The Beetle has been around for decades, and was once a best seller for VW in the U.S. The base version gets 34 MPG on the highway. Its turbo charges 4 cylinder is the core to its fuel efficiency. One version has a convertible, something rarely seen in U.S. cars

4. The Kia Forte, bought 62.8% by women, is another small sedan. It gets 39 MPG in highway driving, put out via a 4 cylinder engine which has a tiny 146 HP yield. Like most cars, it has a up sell version which can cost as much as $30,000 with an army of accessories.

5. The Ford Fiesta, bought 62.8% by women, is the entry level sedan for Ford (NYSE: F). The tiny sedan gets 36 MPG in highway driving. The up sell ST has a set of features, which can drive its price as high as $25,000. The highest end version even has a spoiler which would not seem to justify a premium price.

6. The Kia Sorento, bought 62% by women, is one of the smallest cars offered by Kia and its South Korean stable mate the Hyundai brand. For a crossover, it gets high mileage at 29 MPG for highway driving. Kia promotes the vehicle as roomy which is a pattern among the vehicles on this list. Its most expensive upsell is the Limited V6.

7. The Jeep Patriot, bought 61.4% by women, is Fiat Chrysler’s (NYSE: FCAU) entry level vehicle in the SUV division which has had strong sales and helped drive the parent’s bottom line. Jeep celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

8. The Mitsubishi Outlander, bought 60.9% buy women, is one of the small set of models offered by a company which has started to withdraw from the U.S. Another small crossover, it gets as much as 31 MPG in highway driving.

9. The Kia Rio, bought 60.8% by women, is one of four Kia models on this list. The tiny sedan gets as much as 37 MPG in highway driving. Its “fully loaded” version, with a number of accessories not offered on the base model, costs $25,000. It has a 4 cylinder engine which puts out 138 MPG.

10. The Kia Soul is the company’s smallest crossover, bought 60.6% by women. Kia offers four crossover models. The Soul gets as much as 31 MPG in highway driving. Its highest end version cost nearly $25,000 with all accessories.

Top 10 Cars Women Want
Rank Make Model Avg Price Inquiries by Women
1 Hyundai Tucson $16,722 66.2%
2 Nissan Versa $12,144 64.0%
3 Volkswagen Beetle $18,179 63.9%
4 Kia Forte $13,730 62.8%
5 Ford Fiesta $13,237 62.8%
6 Kia Sorento $18,668 62.0%
7 Jeep Patriot $15,615 61.4%
8 Mitsubishi Outlander $15,173 60.9%
9 Kia Rio $10,800 60.8%
10 Kia Soul $14,431 60.6%

Average $14,870 62.5%

Methodology: iSeeCars.com analyzed over 54 million pre-owned car sales and 570,000 shoppers’ inquiries of cars on iSeeCars.com between January 1, 2013, and September 30, 2015. It categorized inquiries as coming from male or female consumers (based on their names) and calculated the percentage of inquiries for each car model from males and from females, across all model years available for each model. Models with fewer than 70 inquiries and that were not in production as of the 2015/2016 model years were excluded from further analysis. The average price of each model was also calculated across all model years available from all listings during the 2.75 year period.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Watch World’s First Transformer Car By Kia Motors

The South Korea Vehicle manufacturer Kia Motors are known for their products worldwide. The company has built world’s first Transformer Car and exhibited in an Auto show. This car transformer video has gone viral on social media. Kia Motors has done something which makes you rethink about what innovation is. The car put under test was Kia’s SUV, Borrego suddenly transforms into Transformer Car.


2017 Kia Sorento Enters Second Model Year With New Tech

The 2017 Kia Sorento is now available for order with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

On top of that, the automaker offers two new options to its best-selling CUV, the Advance Touring and Advance Technology packages, available on lower trim levels.

These are joined by the additional safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, advanced smart cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and dynamic bending lights, available at no extra cost on the range-topper SXL, which can be had from $43,900 in FWD and $45,700 in AWD.

Powering the L and LX is the same 2.4-liter I-4 engine, rated at 185 HP (188 PS) and 178 pound-feet (241 Nm) of torque, returning 21/28/24 mpg (11.2/8.4/9.8 lt/100 km) in FWD (city/highway/combined) and 21/25/22 mpg (11.2/9.4/10.7 lt/100 km) in AWD.

The EX continues to be offered with a 2.0-liter turbo, producing 240 HP (243 PS) and 260 pound-feet (353 Nm) of torque, EPA-rated at 20/27/23 (11.8/8.7/10.2 lt/100 km) in FWD and 19/25/22 (12/9.4/10.7 lt/100 km) in AWD.

The range-topping mill remains the 3.3-liter V6, with its 290 HP (294 PS) and 252 pound-feet (342 Nm) of torque, offered as standard on the SX and SXL and available as an option on the LX and EX. The first two return 18/25/20 mpg (13.1/9.4/11.8 lt/100 km) in FWD and 17/23/19 mpg (13.9/10.2/12.4 lt/100 km) in AWD, while the latter are rated at 18/25/20 mpg (13.1/9.4/11.8 lt/100 km) in FWD and 18/25/21 mpg (13.1/9.4/11.2 lt/100 km) with AWD.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2016 Hyundai Elantra and Kia Picanto earn 5-star safety rating

The 2016 Hyundai Elantra has received a five-star ANCAP rating from Australia’s car safety watchdog. Newcomer to the Australian micro-car market, the Kia Picanto, was also given the top rating.

With an overall score of 35.01 out of a possible 37 points, the Elantra scored full marks in a number of areas including side-impact crash testing (16 out of 16), as well as pole-impact testing (2 out of 2). Its seat belt reminders also scored maximum marks (3 out of 3).

“The Elantra performed well in crash testing and is another sound addition to Hyundai’s fleet which sits well with its competitors in the small passenger vehicle market,” ANCAP CEO, James Goodwin said. Despite receiving top honors, Goodwin feels there is still room for improvement.

“Advanced safety assist technologies are unfortunately lacking on the Elantra, and Hyundai – along with other manufacturers – should step up and include technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on all models,” he said.

The result now means all current-generation Hyundai passenger cars and SUVs carry the coveted five-star rating. This comes after the 2016 Hyundai Tuscon also achieved the same rating, following a redesign earlier this year. The family SUV initially scored a sub-par four-star rating after its local launch in late 2015.

“We’re very proud of Elantra’s five-Star ANCAP rating,” Hyundai Australia COO, Scott Grant said.

“This is tangible recognition of Hyundai Motor Company’s continued focus on advanced passive and active safety systems.”

The Kia Picanto achieved an overall score of 34.26 out of 37, performing well in both frontal offset and side-impact tests with scores of 15.12 and 14.14 out of 16 respectively.

Speaking on the Picanto, Goodwin said, “The Kia reinforces that safety should not be restricted by budget with the Picanto providing an affordable five-star vehicle choice.”


Monday, May 9, 2016

Kia Motors America Reports Best-Ever April Sales

IRVINE, Calif., May 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Fresh off the best first quarter in company history, Kia Motors America's (KMA) upward trajectory continued with all-time high April sales of 56,508 units, up 6.1 percent over the same period last year. With the all-new 2017 Sportage in showrooms, sales of the compact CUV jumped 78.9 percent year-over-year while the April tally for the Forte family of compact cars increased 35.6 percent.

"Economic indicators remained positive, powering Kia to one of the strongest performances in company history," said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA. "As a recognized leader in design, quality and technology, our call to consumers to 'Discover the New Kia' is paying off as dealers report an influx of customers who are considering Kia for the first time."


2017 Kia Sportage Video Road Test

Kia has made quite a name for itself with its Soul compact hatchback, Optima mid-size sedan, and Sorento crossover; yet one must not forget the Sportage compact crossover.

With the 2011 update, the Sportage traded off-roader looks for more sophisticated crossover styling with hints of European hot hatch. Now it’s time for an update, but do eye-catching styling, loads of tech, and new refinement make it class-leading?

Design-wise, we’d call the Sportage flamboyant, but not too far over the top. If there is any controversy to the look, it's up front where the headlamps impart a somewhat kitschy sci-fi feel. You have to give it credit for being bold. The overall stance is sportier thanks to a squatter, more substantial look with the wheels pushed farther to the corners.

Inside the new Sportage features more soft-touch surfaces, better trims, and a layout that’s somewhat sporty and cockpit-oriented, with the center stack canted slightly toward the driver.

When it comes to power there’s a choice of two powertrains: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 181 horsepower, or, for those looking for more oomph, there's a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 240 horsepower. Both engines are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission and send power to the front wheels in the standard configuration. All-wheel drive is an option on every Sportage trim level.

One of the new Sportage's not-so-pleasant surprises is fuel economy. Ratings are as high as 23 miles per gallon city and 30 miles per gallon highway. While those numbers aren't horrible, they trail most competitors by 1-3 mpg.

Behind the wheel, we find the turbo version to be strong and smooth, though we've experienced some transmission “hunting" when driving up longer grades. Kia promised better steering and a more refined ride with the latest Sportage, and for the most part, it delivers. The sporty SX Turbo model handles responsively, and with good body control. Kia’s taken a sportier path with this Sporage than competitors like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, and that’s not a bad thing.

While the Sportage remains one of the smallest models in its class, it has grown slightly. It’s 1.6 inches longer than before, with a wheelbase that’s gained 1.2 inches. That extra length translates to slightly more head room and knee room in the cabin, especially in the backseat. Cargo space is now up to 30.7 cubic feet behind the second row. The liftover height is lower, too.

The IIHS named the Sportage a Top Safety Pick+ and gave it a superior rating for crash avoidance and mitigation. Available safety tech includes front collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, front and rear parking assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Priced from just under $23,000, the Sportage comes standard with power features, air conditioning with rear vents, keyless entry, Bluetooth, a touchscreen audio system with satellite radio, and a rearview camera.

Options include an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen with a navigation system, a 320-watt Harmon Kardon audio system, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights and taillights, bi-xenon headlamps, and a 4.2-inch LCD display in the gauge cluster.

So what’s the bottom line with the 2017 Kia Sportage? It’s beefed up its sport-shoe styling, and its hardware, as it tackles the crossover-SUV niche head-on