One very positive thing to mention regarding the turbo engine is that regular gasoline is recommended, so there’s a 10–15 percent savings realized at the pump compared to most turbo-powered vehicles that require premium fuel.
Cargo capacity is good. Behind the rear seat you’re looking at 740 L capacity, which, for comparison purposes, is much bigger than the trunk size of any sedan, and with the rear seat folded cargo capacity rises to 1,547 L. Those rear seats, by the way, can be lowered from the rear of the vehicle via handy pull-tabs. This saves you walking around, opening the rear door and dropping the seat from the side of the Sportage. Also standard are a rear cargo cover and cargo net.
2013 Kia Sportage. Click image to enlarge.
Towing capacity is only 454 kg (1,000 lb.) without a trailer-braking package, but rises to 907 (2,000 lbs) when so equipped. Ground clearance is 172 mm, which is lower than Ford Escape (200 mm) and Subaru Forester (an impressive 220 mm). It is comparable to Honda CR-V (170 mm).
A notable convenience is the cooled glovebox (cool air can be vented in to keep a bottle of water cool, for instance) but a block heater is optional at $57.60.
Regarding longevity and reliability, I can only offer anecdotal evidence in the form of my brother, who bought a previous-generation 2005 Kia Sportage and still drives it. With over 200,000 km on the odometer, he’s had no major issues and although wary at first, has become a booster of the brand. In my experience, Kia (and sister company Hyundai) build well-engineered vehicles that perform well and these days, look great.
This one could benefit with rain sensing windshield wipers and standard crossbars attached to its roof rails, but as far as less obvious amenities go, it does have a heated steering wheel and generous storage areas for small items. The heated steering wheel is certainly unusual in this segment.
Do you need the turbo engine? If you want all the standard equipment, but would like to save a few dollars, you could opt for the EX-L and its 176-hp, 2.4 L engine. According to the official numbers, fuel economy is not significantly better between them, but you’ll save about $2,000 on the purchase price after you’ve added the navigation system.
There are many competitors in the small SUV segment, including the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, soon-to-be-introduced all-new Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Tuscon, Chevrolet Equinox, and Subaru Forester (due for a significant update for the 2014 model year). Interestingly, Sportage is not Kia’s top SUV seller… Look to their Sorento, the mid-size model, for their most popular truck.
Pricing: 2013 Kia Sportage
Base Price (SX): $37,395
Options: $200 (Black Cherry Pearl paint)
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $39,345