Kia has been making reliable, quality cars for a long time, but form always seemed to come second to function. When I think of a Kia of the ’00s, no-frills motoring and a great value come to mind. Fast forward a few years and what a difference a couple design cycles make! The 2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo is one of the most stylish crossovers on the road today at any price, and with some impressive technology inside, it’s both a good value and a good vehicle outright.
Stylish Design, High-Tech Features
The Sportage I drove was the top-of-the-line SX Turbo trim, which sports a few standard touches that are optional or unavailable on the base model, like a satin chrome grill and door handles. The exterior design is clean, cute, curvy and aerodynamic without being over the top. Design-wise, the Sportage has a lot in common with the best of breed CUVs. The high-tech headlights — Bi-Xenon HID Projectors — are an example of premium features that have found their way into the Sportage. Besides looking really cool, the headlights are bright and feature Dynamic Bending Light with auto-leveling technology that angles the beam depending on vehicle speed and turning angle. A few years ago, you could only get this kind of technology on a BMW or a Lexus, and boy did you pay for it.
Impressive Interior, Even More Technology
The SX model I drove has a leather-clad 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat. Both are not only heated, but ventilated, too. Once you’ve experienced heated seats in cold weather or ventilated seats when the temperature rises, it’s hard to go back. On my trip from Manhattan up to Boston, I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over two hours trying to get out of the city. The Sportage’s seats made this otherwise unpleasant experience comfortable (and ventilated) on a warm spring day. An unexpected silver lining in this slow moving escape from New York was the huge sunroof. Power-walking through the city every day, eyes straight ahead, I tend to take the skyline — and sky — for granted. The huge sunroof highlighted the beautiful cityscape around me.
The Sportage’s interior — materials, craftsmanship, technology, and layout — was impressive. As a sign of my enthusiasm, if you stripped off all Kia branding and dropped the average car buyer behind the wheel of the Sportage, I would wager that at least two-thirds would think they’re sitting in a much more highly-priced vehicle. A good example is the in-dash technology and infotainment system. The Kia has an 8″ touchscreen with a cool split-screen function, and it supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can’t currently get this in a number of other luxury CUVs.
Unfortunately, while the Kia UVO infotainment/navigation system looks great, the user experience left us wanting more. The search/location function was far less comprehensive than a standard Google or Apple maps app. As an example, and to my disappointment, I wasn’t able to just search for my hotel by name and city to set the navigation system. When I tried the same thing in Google and Apple Maps, the process was quick, simple and accurate.
The Kia’s engine provided plenty of pickup for merging into traffic and passing on the highway and, for a car with plenty of room, the Sportage felt nimble while navigating the perilous streets of rush hour NYC. I found the ride equally comfortable during both the city and highway portions of my 7.5-hour trip up to Boston.