Test Drive: 2012 Kia Sportage car test drives reviews kia
2012 Kia Sportage 2.0T SX Navigation. Click image to enlarge
Comparison Test: Compact Crossovers, Round Two

Manufacturer’s web site
Kia Motors Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Kia Sportage

While the Kia Sportage didn’t win our recent Crossover Comparison Test, it did impress us in many ways, and has a lot to offer a wide variety of drivers. While it’s not a sport sedan, it isn’t short on power or style, and with the typical value we’ve come to expect from this upstart Korean brand.

First, let’s start with the styling. For those of you that don’t yet know the name Peter Schreyer, he is the man responsible for this generation of Kia styling. He joined the company in 2006, and the first concept released on his watch was the 2007 Kee, which introduced the new Kia grille and an exciting new design era at Kia. They have since redesigned their entire lineup, from the diminutive Rio to the mid-size Optima and the forthcoming K9 (to be named Quoris for North America) on the car side, and the Sportage and Sorento on the crossover utility vehicle side.

Test Drive: 2012 Kia Sportage car test drives reviews kia
2012 Kia Sportage 2.0T SX Navigation. Click image to enlarge

The Sportage is labeled a compact (an evolving term in the auto industry), but I found it a practical size for our family of three—we don’t often transport refrigerators or mattresses, so most of our junk can be accommodated by the 740 L trunk (1,547 L with the seats folded), the largest item likely to see regular transport my big, bulky hockey bag, which can be easily tossed in, though the load floor is a bit high. However, the benefit to the added height is that entry and exit to front and rear seats is incredibly easy, as is strapping our daughter into her car seat.

The seats themselves were comfortable everywhere except the middle back seat, and the leather of a decent quality. However, the leather on the steering wheel was so bad that I felt a little bit tainted holding the steering wheel—it was some of the worst vinyl-feeling leather I’ve come into contact with in recent years—this is actually being addressed in 2013 model year Sportages.

Test Drive: 2012 Kia Sportage car test drives reviews kia
2012 Kia Sportage 2.0T SX Navigation. Click image to enlarge

The dash plastics and switchgear are as attractive as the exterior, and the controls laid out in a simple and convenient manner, but the materials were typical hard plastic, though I found that most touch points were inoffensive, except that steering wheel. The UVO stereo interface was a breeze, using a combination of fixed menu buttons and touchscreen menus. Pairing a phone took all of 10 seconds and it streamed music over the Bluetooth connection, or through a cable for media devices, which also allows surfing your playlists and artists right on the touchscreen.

Our tester was a 2.0T SX Navigation including the full array of technologies you’d expect in a modern family car, though Kia has yet to push forward on some of the latest driving assistance systems like blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert or mitigation, self-parking, etc. In other words, the driver has to drive this car. Oh no, however, will we cope? At least the back-up camera helped with parking, a necessity with the Sporrtage’s puny rear window and pinched side windows.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.