The Kia Sportage has typically been an "alternative" choice for a compact crossover SUV. Prior versions weren't as well-rounded as other, more popular crossovers, but a lower price, plentiful standard features and lengthy warranty helped get people into the driver's seat. Well, those value-oriented attributes are still present, but the 2018 Kia Sportage, coming off last year's full redesign, is improved to the point that it deserves to be among those SUVs you consider first rather than the one you settle on after looking at the price tag.
For starters, it's a more refined and comfortable vehicle than previous versions. Its ride quality is impressively comfortable, even with bigger wheels, and its cabin stays nice and quiet on the highway. Interior quality is also better than most, and it looks good, too. Other advantages include a big back seat and large doors that make it easy to get in and out.
If you are looking for lots of utility, the Sportage probably isn't the right choice. You get 30.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seatbacks, which trails class leaders by about 4 to 6 cubic feet, while folding down those seatbacks opens up a similarly modest 60.1 cubic feet. The Sportage's fuel economy is also disappointing compared to rival SUVs.
Still, you don't need to spend a lot of money to get an appealing Sportage. Even the base trim level is well equipped, and unlike some rivals, you don't have to step up to an upper trim to get desirable things such as advanced safety tech and Apple or Android smartphone control. So, yes, the Sportage is just as much of a value-packed alternative as always, but it's also good enough now to be in the big leagues.
The 2018 Kia Sportage is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in LX, EX and SX Turbo trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard on all of them, but all-wheel drive is an option. The LX and EX have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. The SX Turbo has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 hp (237 hp with all-wheel drive) and 260 lb-ft of torque.
Standard equipment on the LX includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, driver-selectable driving modes, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat, a rearview camera, a 5-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player and one USB port. The LX's Popular package adds roof rails, UV-reducing glass for the front windows and windshield, a windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar), heated front seats, and Kia's 7-inch Uvo touchscreen interface that includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Kia's eServices remote and emergency services.
The EX includes all of the above items plus 18-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, upgraded exterior and interior trim, keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, leather upholstery and a rear USB charging port. The EX's Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Sport Appearance package adds LED foglights, special exterior trim and a flat-bottom steering wheel. It is not available with the Premium or Technology (see below) packages.
The LX Technology package adds forward collision warning and automatic braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam control and power-folding mirrors. The EX Technology package adds those items plus a hands-free liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, a spare tire, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. This package includes heated rear seats with all-wheel-drive Sportages.
The SX gets a more powerful engine plus a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED foglights, an electronic parking brake, special exterior trim, the flat-bottom steering wheel, a larger gauge display, and the contents of the EX Technology and Premium packages.