Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gen 4 Kia Sportage has the goods to be great

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – For the 2017 model year, Kia’s fourth-generation compact crossover sport-utility vehicle weighs in with a lengthy list of tweaks, changes and additions.

But vastly improved driving dynamics top the charts, in my view.  Having driven numerous versions of the Sportage over the years, I can tell you that the current generation handles like a champ.  Seriously, at times, I felt like I was driving a pricey midsize SUV or a top-line, full-size sedan.

My ride, the 2017 Kia Sportage SX FWD, was much more stable and significantly more agile than Sportages I’ve sampled in past years.

And happily, that’s just the iceberg's tip of what’s new for 2017.

The Sportage, Kia's longest-running nameplate in the United States, is wrapped in some new, decidedly sporty skin this time around.  The ultra-aggressive front end features two tiers with four distinct light sockets.  The thing looks ready for some night road racing.
Added plus: 19-inch alloy wheels.  I’m also sure that the “Hyper Red” exterior paint on my ride made it extra spicy-looking.

Another plus: My tester came with the 2-liter, turbocharged-4 engine making 240 horsepower on the top end.  That’s nearly 60 more horses than the standard 2.4-liter Sportage power plant offering.

With the turbo, I enjoyed a remarkable advantage.  I was able to zip the overpowered compact crossover into tight freeway slots, and the tester skipped around urban center pokes with barely a blip on the accelerator.

Fuel mileage on the tester was advertised at a so-so 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

My Sportage had a bottom line of $33,395 on the sticker, a fairly hefty price for a small SUV, but it was loaded with the kind of standard features that you expect to get in that ballpark.  Interior comfort/convenience features included leather seat trim, a Harman Kardon premium audio system, a heated steering wheel with paddle shifters and heated/ventilated power front seats.

Safety features were likewise plentiful, including autonomous emergency braking, a rear cross-traffic alert, a blind sport-detection system and lane-change assist.

Kia touts its Sportage as “a breed apart in the compact CUV segment,” and I have to agree.

The Sportage is a prime example of how South Korea’s Kia/Hyundai offerings have evolved from cheap hardware to good-quality vehicles over little more than a generation.

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