The Compact Foreign Crossover: Kia’s 2018 Sportage – Autoversed
The Compact Foreign Crossover: Kia’s 2018 Sportage

After suffering economic crisis in 2007, Kia became part of the Hyundai Group. As such, many of their vehicles look very similar, but it’s easy to see that with the acquisition, Kia’s portfolio presents a more refined offering. Kia has not necessarily seen the kind of success larger foreign companies have, such as Subaru, Honda, and Toyota, but all the same, their products have come a long way in the past few years.

The Kia Sportage, Sorento, and Niro make up the SUV segment for this marque. The Sorento is the largest, offering room for up to seven passengers. The Sportage and Niro can seat up to five. Nearest in price, the Sportage and Niro compete in the compact SUV segment, alongside plenty of competitors.

Fully redesigned in 2017, the 2018 Kia Sportage still sports a bold new look. In an age where wagons and crossovers are beating out larger family sedans, the Sportage hits all the right notes at a surprisingly affordable price.

Performance Specifications

Customers can choose either a 2.4L inline-four paired with a six-speed automatic, or a turbo-charged 2.0L inline-four mated to a six-speed automatic. The 2.4L models are capable of 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. Turbo 2.0L models achieve 237 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Kia Sportage’s towing capacity is 2,000 pounds.

Since the Sportage is not offered in a hybrid option, take a look at the Kia Niro if you’re looking for a hybrid or electric powertrain.

The 2018 Kia Sportage comes in the following colors:

  • Clear White
  • Sparkling Silver
  • Mineral Silver
  • Pacific Blue
  • Burnished Copper
  • Hyper Red
  • Black Cherry

Fuel Efficiency

Models equipped with the 2.4L inline-four achieve an EPA-estimated mpg of 23 city and 30 highway for front-wheel drive versions, and 21 city and 25 highway for all-wheel drive versions of the LX model. EX models come in at 22 city, 29 highway EPA-estimated mpg for front-wheel drive versions, and 21 city and 25 highway mpg for all-wheel drive versions. Turbo models rank in at 21 city and 26 highway EPA-estimated mpg for front-wheel drive models and 20 city and 23 highway for all-wheel drive models.

Without a hybrid option, the 2018 Kia Sportage ranks below-average in fuel efficiency.

Grzegorz Czapski / Shutterstock

Entertainment and Safety Features

Kia offers a Rear-Camera Display standard on all 2018 Kia Sportage models. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2018 Sportage “Good” in all aspects, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates the Sportage similarly, with four to five stars in all categories. J.D. Power and Associates gives the 2018 Kia Sportage three to five stars in all categories, most notably rewarding the initial quality overall, as well as the body, interior, and powertrain design.

2018 Kia Sportage LX models start out at $23,600 and are offered in either front or all-wheel drive. Riding on 17-inch wheels, LX models have cloth interior, remote keyless entry, and an optional locking center differential.

Sportage EX models are offered in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive as well, with an optional locking center differential. With 18-inch wheels and an optional panoramic sunroof, the EX model also has a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Safety features on the EX model include Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Leather heated front seats, a push button start, and optional heated rear seats complete the EX model.

The Kia Sportage SX Turbo model is available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. With an optional locking center differential, the SX Turbo comes with a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, LED fog lights, 19-inch wheels, and a sport steering wheel. The Smart Power Liftgate is the tip of the electronic iceberg in the SX Turbo. Customers also get the Harman/Kardon eight-speaker sound system, an eight-inch touchscreen, Voice-Command Navigation, SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Heated and ventilated front seats will keep you at your preferred temperature. Advanced safety features on the SX Turbo model include Parking Assist with Front and Rear Sensors, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and the Lane Departure Warning System.

How the Kia Sportage Compares to the Competition

“Prior versions weren’t as well-rounded as other, more popular crossovers,” notes Edmunds experts, but the 2018 Kia Sportage is only the first of many in Kia’s new lineup. Describing the marque as the “alternative” choice, Edmunds recommends the LX model, which is surprising since it is Kia’s most basic offering for the Sportage. However, experts at Consumer Reports also recommend the LX model. Their biggest gripe with the Sportage is that the rear visibility is low due to the thick rear pillars. Kelley Blue Book praises the 2018 Kia Sportage for the “expanded availability of high-tech safety equipment.”

In comparing the 2018 Kia Sportage to competitors, the Sportage ranks about average. Since the crossover segment is so big, you’ve got affordable options like the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-3 and CX-5, and a slew of Jeep models, including the Renegade, Compass, Wrangler, and Patriot, to name a few. Hyundai’s own Santa Fe and Tucson rank in line with Infiniti’s QX30 and the Nissan Juke, Rogue, Murano, and Pathfinder. The Acura RDX and MDX round out this introductory group.

Middle-of-the-road models include the Honda CR-V, HR-V, and Pilot, the Kia Sorento, GMC’s Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox, and the Ford Edge. These models offer a great mix of luxury and safety features, without breaking the bank. If you’re wanting to dip a little into the privileged pool, try out Buick’s Encore, Envision, and Enclave. Buick certainly has a lot of luxury to offer, at a relatively affordable price.

If you’re really looking to pamper yourself, check out the Audi triplets — the Q3, Q5, and Q7. The Volvo XC60 and XC90 are also two great options as well. BMW offers the X3 and X5 twins, while Mercedes-Benz offers nearly as many SUV options as Jeep does — just at a higher price, of course.

The crossover segment is all about offering customers the perfect mix of luxury, safety, features, and affordability. While the 2018 Kia Sportage isn’t going to turn many heads with its style or smother you in the luxury you might get in a German-brand automobile, it will get you where you need to go, keep you safe while doing it, and entertain you along the way. You can’t ask for much more for the price Kia offers.

Pros

  • Smooth ride
  • Spacious seating
  • Quiet ride
  • Excellent warranty

Cons

  • Low rear visibility
  • Small infotainment screen
  • Fuel economy
  • Cargo capacity
  • No hybrid option

While Kia may not officially be the generic marque to Hyundai’s name-brand, it certainly is a great entry-level manufacturer to consider. Kia has a lot to offer customers in the form of capabilities and safety. The next time you’re in the market for a small SUV and/or crossover, check out the 2018 Kia Sportage and decide for yourself.

Grzegorz Czapski / Shutterstock

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