“The streets of San Diego, California were temporarily adorned with dozens of cute, colorful, and charming Kia Sportages aching to be driven. And driven they were…”
2017 Kia Sportage SX – A Sign of Great Things to Come
You’ve heard me say it many times—Kia Motors is a success story, worldwide, but more specifically, in North America. What once were basic econoboxes are now technology-packed, fun, great looking automobiles that constantly step on the toes of its fierce competitors.
The Optima and Soul have been great indicators so far of the build-quality that Kia can generate, but if anything, it’s the new and upcoming Sportage that will win the hearts of many owners, along with a large chunk of market share in the ruthless world of crossovers and SUVs.
Launched in 1995, the Sportage has grown and matured through the years, and the new model was designed to be friendly, comfortable, and fun.
It starts with a modern and unique exterior design, that while it may not be for everyone, it is definitely a departure from mainstream (in a good way). The front end features a futuristic pair of bi-xenon HID headlights (optional) and LED daytime running lights, while below them sits the signature tiger-nose grille and quad-light fog-lamps, which I absolutely love.
The rear is equally charming and certainly looks more premium than the Sportage’s price tag would dictate. The rear design isn’t only for looks, as it’s the widest crossover in the segment; therefore amplifying rear leg room and cargo space alike.
Our driving route quickly took us out of the crowded and busy streets of San Diego, and into the windy roads of Santa Ysabel, Julian and Borrego Springs.
On the highway the Sportage is quiet and stable, and even has a hint of ‘German’ to it, which is most likely because of its width. Even with the 19 inch wheels, the cabin is quiet and the suspension does a great job at absorbing road imperfections, though most of our driving route featured nearly perfectly paved roads, for the exception of quick dirt-road excursions for the sake of photo opportunities.
Step on the gas, and the 240 horsepower engine on the SX trim comes to life and offers a grin-inspiring exhaust note, which was definitely not expected, but much appreciated. The Kia’s brakes are powerful and offer a strong bite reminiscent of the Sorento’s, which came in handy while driving downhill for miles at a time.
Our test vehicle featured Kia’s new real-time intelligent all-wheel drive system, which was useful while tackling switchbacks and hairpins on tight back roads, helping keep things under control when things were pushed a bit hard.
It may have been 87 degrees outside, but the ventilated seats and dual-zone climate control kept us fresh like cucumbers, while the Harman Kardon sound system offered crisp, clear and premium quality music courtesy of the XM radio. Not bad considering we were literally in the middle of nowhere.
Our way back to the hotel allowed us to enjoy the safety features of the Sportage, such as lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. Other features were weren’t able to test were, pedestrian detection, front collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking, but that’s okay with me!
If the 180 miles and 5 hours we spent behind the wheel of the new Sportage are an indication of what’s to come, I have a feeling we’re really gonna enjoy this one when it comes home for a week to the real judges—the kids. Until then…
The Kia Sportage starts at $22,990 and hits showroom floors nationwide next week!