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2018 Kia Sportage: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader August 2017

Like everything Kia designs, the 2018 Kia Sportage looks and feels like a high-priced European offering, but it definitely isn't priced like one. Kia's quality and design have come a long way in just 24 short years, going from bargain-basement beaters to vehicles that can now challenge the best from Honda, Toyota, Ford and Chevy. The 2018 Sportage gets good marks in all its crash tests and does well in the areas of resale and reliability. Compared to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Sportage has a more robust look that's almost Porsche Macan-like until you get to Kia's signature front end. The Sportage is also big on choice, offering the option of all-wheel drive, normally aspirated or turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and enough electronic goodies to make the Geek Squad consider abandoning their VW Beetles.

What's New for 2018?

Changes to the 2018 Kia Sportage include a new Technology package for the LX trim (formerly only available on the EX) and a new Sport Appearance package for the EX. LX models receive upgraded cloth seats with YES Essentials, while the EX gains blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, heated power-folding outside mirrors and Piano Black trim. The EX can also now be equipped with a heated rear seat.

What We Like

Attractive exterior and interior design; all-wheel drive available on all trim levels; lusty 2.0-liter turbocharged engine on top trim level; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty

What We Don't

No longer the least expensive vehicle in its class; blind spots have grown with the redesign; fuel economy lags behind top of the class; latest driver assists not standard on all trims

How Much?


Fuel Economy

LX and EX models come with a naturally aspirated (nonturbo) direct-injection 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive LX and EX vehicles are rated to achieve 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive LX and EX versions get 21 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. SX Turbo models get a turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making a healthy 240 hp (237 hp with AWD), and front-wheel-drive versions can achieve 21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy, while all-wheel-drive models get 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy. A 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control is standard on all trims.

Standard Features & Options

The Sportage LX ($24,395, FWD; $25,895, AWD) is the base Sportage model. Standard features and equipment include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, privacy glass, power adjustable outside mirrors, a rear-window wiper and defroster, cargo net hooks, a luggage under-tray, a dual-level cargo floor, cloth seats, a 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, front seatback pockets, a manually adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning with rear vents, power door locks, keyless remote entry, power windows, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 160-watt stereo system with six speakers and a 5-in touchscreen, a 3.5-in thin-film-transistor LCD cluster, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, USB and auxiliary input jacks, 4-wheel disc brakes, selectable drive modes (Normal, Sport and Eco) and a rearview camera.

The Popular package ($1,200) is available for LX models. It includes a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a 7-in touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, roof rails, UV-reducing solar-control glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, a windshield wiper deicer, a rear-center armrest and cupholders and dual illuminated-visor vanity mirrors.

The Technology package ($1,300) adds autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist and power-folding heated side mirrors.

The Sportage EX ($27,195, FWD; $28,695, AWD) includes all the LX's standard features and adds or upgrades with 18-in alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, fog lights, a gloss-black grille with chrome trim, solar glass, roof rails, power-folding heated outside mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, dual illuminated-visor vanity mirrors, leather seats, heated front seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone climate control, smart key and push-button start, a 7-in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, UVO eServices telematics and an additional USB port.

The Premium package ($1,700) can be added to EX models. It includes a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and LED interior lighting.

A Technology package ($2,900) can be added to EX models with the Premium package. This includes 8-in touchscreen navigation, a smart power lift gate, a 320-watt Harman Kardon sound system with eight speakers, ventilated front seats, an 8-way power front passenger seat, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, front and rear parking-assist sensors, high-beam assist and a compact spare tire. AWD models include heated rear outboard seats.

The Sportage SX Turbo ($33,695, FWD; $35,195, AWD) comes with all the EX's standard features and adds or upgrades to 19-in alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a compact spare tire, a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, bi-xenon headlights with dynamic bending light, LED fog lamps, LED taillights, a dual exhaust, power-folding outside mirrors with LED turn signals, metal-finished front and rear skid plates, metal sport pedals, metal door-scuff plates, LED interior lighting, ventilated front seats, a power adjustable front passenger seat, a heated flat-bottom steering wheel, paddle shifters, dashboard stitching, an electronic parking brake with auto-hold function, a black headliner, black high-gloss interior inserts, an 8-in touchscreen with navigation, a 4.2-in color thin-film-transistor LCD cluster, a blind spot monitoring system with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and front and rear parking-assist sensors.


All Sportage models come with advanced dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-curtain airbags and dual full-length side-curtain airbags with rollover sensing. Anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, downhill brake control and LATCH connectors are all standard, as is a rearview camera display. Optional safety systems like a blind spot monitoring system with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning can be added to the LX and EX trims and are standard on SX Turbo models.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Sportage as Good on all tests and gave it a Superior score for front-crash prevention when equipped with autonomous emergency braking. SaferCar.gov, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, gave the Sportage a 5-star overall rating.

Behind the Wheel

There's a reason compact crossover vehicles like the Sportage have gained a big chunk of market share recently: They're great to drive. With just a slightly taller stance than a comparably sized sedan, the compact crossover is more comfortable, offers greater visibility and nearly matches the performance and fuel economy of its trunk-laden cousins. Add in greater utility and available all-wheel drive like the Sportage has, and you've got a winning combination.

The Sportage impresses with good handling and a quiet, composed ride. LX and EX models, with the 2.4-liter engine producing 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, deliver more than adequate acceleration and have no problem skirting through traffic and merging onto fast-moving freeways. The SX Turbo's 240 hp and 237 lb-ft of torque are better matched to the Sportage's nearly 4,000-pound curb weight, and enthusiastic drivers will appreciate the sport-tuned suspension's slightly stiffer ride quality.

The Sportage's interior has really come a long way, with a beautifully designed and executed layout that puts the driver in control. The long list of standard and available features leaves little to be desired, especially in the loaded SX Turbo models. Kia's fit and finish are impressive, with great materials selection and tasteful restraint.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Honda CR-V -- The best-selling crossover in the United States is a good benchmark for refinement and reliability.

2018 Toyota RAV4 -- Toyota's long-running compact crossover has benefited from recent interior refinements that make it a much-improved choice for grownups. Every RAV4 comes standard with Toyota's Safety Sense-P suite of collision-avoidance and driver-assist systems.

2018 Mazda CX-5 -- Mazda has the edge when it comes to zoom factor, and the CX-5 delivers the best driving experience in the class. There's also a diesel engine option.

Used Audi Q5 -- A 2012-2016 Audi Q5 gives you more power and prestige than a Kia Sportage, not to mention superior ride and handling.

Autotrader's Advice

Kia has added to its reputation for value with some of the best exterior and interior designs available in popular brands. The 2018 Kia Sportage is a good-looking, well-performing compact crossover that measures up to the best in the class. The EX model, with its impressive equipment list and available all-wheel drive, represents the best balance of price, convenience and capability in the Sportage lineup. If you're looking for a replacement for your sedan or large SUV, you may find a good match here.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Kia Sportage: New Car Review - Autotrader