The Kia Sportage is a compact crossover that was introduced in the early 1990s. It was based on the Mazda Bongo, and both SUVs shared numerous components like the transmission, engine, and differentials. Over the years, the Sportage has developed into a unique crossover with many of its problems ironed out.
Kia Sportage Origins
Kia Sportage was introduced in 1993, when it was in an alliance with Mazda and Ford. It debuted in a two-door soft-top convertible and five-door wagon version. Unfortunately, it received heavy criticism and reported low sales for most of the first generation’s production life. It even failed to impress in South Korea. After Hyundai took over the company in 1997, the crossover saw two major recalls for issues with the rear wheels.
About the Kia Sportage
Despite its poor start, the Kia Sportage is currently one of the top picks in the U.S. crossover SUV market. In a span of around 15 years, it has grown from a poorly designed and executive vehicle to stylish, high quality, and well-rounded crossover. It is now in its third generation. The first generation Sportage was mostly a disaster with its poor design and reliability issue. The only saving grace was its offroad capabilities. The second generation was a huge improvement and still offers great value for money as a used car, but it still scored low in looks. The third generation, however, stands out with its sharp looks, build quality, and aggressive performance. Despite these positives, the crossover has a few issues. For instance, it is smaller than it looks, thereby restricting it to use by small groups and families.
Kia Sportage Features
The Kia Sportage is available in three trim levels, starting from the base level LX to the EX and the top-end SX. The LX and EX get a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 176 horsepower and 168 lb-ft of torque. The top-end Kia Sportage SX is more performance oriented, getting a smaller but turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 260 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. The standard drive system is a front-wheel drive, but an optional all-wheel drive system is also available. The transmission is available as a six-speed manual (standard on LX) or a six-speed automatic.
The Kia Sportage comes with a generous amount of features right from the base model. Standard features include alloy wheels, satellite radio, and an iPod interface with Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth feature also comes with phone connectivity. The EX comes with additional features like LED running lights, telescoping steering wheel and keyless entry. Other features include leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and ventilated and heated seats. The Uvo voice-activation system by Kia is also available, along with a navigation system and a rear view camera.
The Kia Sportage SX comes with all the above features, along with unique styling inside and out and a sport-tuned suspension. Speaking of interior styling, the Kia Sportage cabin has an abundance of high-quality and well-textured plastic. Despite their hardness, they are padded enough to keep passengers comfortable in case they hit the panels by mistake. The seats are well-designed to extract maximum space from the cabin, resulting in ample legroom and headroom in the front and rear. The rear bench, however, lacks reclining or sliding features. Moreover, the cargo space has been sacrificed to make the cabin in front roomier. The maximum cargo space expected is 54.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. Otherwise, the space is limited to just 26.1 cubic feet. In comparison, the average cargo space of other competing crossovers is around 70 cubic feet with the rear seat down.
The Kia Sportage is sportier and more athletic than its previous generations. In fact, it is more fun to drive than most other compact crossover SUVs in the market. This is mostly due to the fantastic suspension setup. It is a bit on the firmer side though, so the bumps on the road are felt by everyone inside. Both four-cylinder engines offer adequate power and nothing more, but the automatic transmission is smooth as silk.
Kia Sportage Evolution
The Kia Sportage was launched in 1993, but it came to the United States two years later as a compact SUV with a body-on-frame design. It was one of the first compact crossovers, but it was smaller than the few other competitors and vastly underpowered too. Production would continue until 2002 with low sales throughout. The second generation debuted in 2005 and came with considerable improvements. It was given a unibody construction similar to the Hyundai Tucson, and it was also bigger from the inside and out. However, its interior quality and exterior design were poor. It was a decent offering by Kia, but it lacked anything that made it stand out amongst competitors in a strong and competitive market.
The third generation was introduced in 2011, and this time with a striking exterior design characteristic of European crossovers, well-designed and quality interior, and better performance.