For 2013, the SX receives manual folding exterior mirrors, upgraded leather on the steering wheel, and removes the UVO trim (infotainment system), but otherwise is unchanged from 2012.

With the standard keyless entry system, the Sportage SX senses the keyfob on your person as you approach it, and unlocks with the touch of a button on the door handle. Likewise, another button next to the steering column is depressed to start the engine. This is the kind of feature that many people swear they don’t need, but when you have it, you don’t want to give it up.

I found the leather-upholstered seat comfortable, and that its two-stage heater warmed quickly. The steering wheel leather wrapping, a source of complaint in 2012, has been addressed. As mentioned above, the driver’s seat is also ventilated with cool air when required in the summer. Both front seats are power adjustable.

Test Drive: 2013 Kia Sportage SX car test drives reviews kia
2013 Kia Sportage. Click image to enlarge.

My rear seat passengers all commented on the comfortable accommodations back there (in one case, it was a couple; another was a single passenger). Despite the rakish profile, the roof still provides good headroom for front and rear occupants, all of whom can enjoy the benefits of the dual sunroof. Legroom is also generous.

Outward visibility to the front and sides is good, but the small rear window is a liability, especially when backing into a parking spot or out of a driveway. The rearview camera is a useful and required aid in the Sportage.

Starting the Sportage in cold weather generates a harsh sound from the GDI engine, which does become quieter as it warms up. The six-speed automatic transmission changes gears smoothly as you accelerate and I found the Sportage felt very solid and well planted on the road. Steering is sharp and the vehicle corners flat and predictably.

The suspension is firm in this sport model, however, and over broken and uneven pavement is not particularly compliant. Coming from a softly sprung sedan, it was an adjustment. On even pavement, however, the Sportage is a smooth-riding vehicle. We were riding on winter tires, it should be noted, which can compromise ride compared with a less aggressively sculpted summer or all-season tire. Eventually I became used to the firmer suspension, so it’s not something that detracts from the vehicle in the longer term. Downhill Assist Control (selectable) and Hill Ascent Control are additional standard driving aids.

Acceleration is spirited when required, the turbo kicking in with no perceptible lag and moving the Sportage along at a fast pace when passing or coming up to highway speed on a ramp. Otherwise, engine output is well matched for normal driving situations.

Test Drive: 2013 Kia Sportage SX car test drives reviews kia
2013 Kia Sportage. Click image to enlarge.

The distinctive wheels seem well chosen for the Sportage SX, their artistic design apparently resisting the ravages of brake dust better than more conventionally styled rims.

Fuel consumption has been something of a controversy at Kia/Hyundai recently, with both companies admitting their official numbers were more optimistic than realistic. My experience was about 14.0 L/100 km in the city and 9.0 L/100 km on the highway, and both these numbers are more than the 10.3/8.1 L/100 km suggested by Kia. There is a driver selectable “Eco” mode designed to maximize fuel economy, but I didn’t find much difference between it and normal mode. Useful range is a somewhat short-ish 500 km due to the small 58 L gas tank. Keep in mind that your consumption will vary depending on your driving style.

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