You may not realize it, but the Sportage is actually one of Kia’s oldest North American models, joining the Kia lineup alongside the Sephia sedan back in 1994. Indeed, not only does that make it one of the pioneering Kias here, it makes it one of the industry’s pioneering compact SUVs/CUVs, too. That’s pretty impressive, to think that this tiny brand from South Korea was on the cutting edge of what was to become one of the biggest vehicle segments in our fair lands and around the world.

Since then, the Sportage has undergone three generational changes culminating in the fourth-generation model you see here, becoming more stylish and more popular with every iteration. Of course, “stylish” is just one way of saying it; “outlandish” is another – the last Sportage really did look like nothing else on the market – and if that’s what you believe, then you’re probably not all that surprised by the new CUV’s defining feature, the quad LED foglights, which we like to call “ice cube fogs.”

They come as standard on the SX trim – indeed, that’s the only way you can get them in Canada – and while they may seem awkward at first, there’s no denying the powerful light they emit. So much so that we had to be careful with our camera settings when trying to shoot the Sportage’s front end, as they tend to set your camera’s lens ablaze with their brightness, leading to some washed out photos. Anything below the SX trim, meanwhile, gets a more traditional-looking single-bulb treatment. Nice that you get foglamps as standard, though.

The lighting story doesn’t end there, either; directionally adaptive HID headlights come as standard on the second-from-top EX-Tech trim, and they can rotate anywhere between -7.5 and +15 degrees when travelling at 5 km/h or more. That’s pretty slick stuff, normally reserved for luxury vehicles.

For 2017, there are seven available trims: LX FWD ($24,795), LX AWD ($26,995), EX FWD ($27,795), EX AWD ($29,795), EX Premium ($32,695), EX Tech ($36,995) and SX ($39,395); all save the SX use a 2.4L naturally aspirated four-cylinder, good for 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The SX gets a turbo mill, also an inline-four, but rated at 237 hp and 260 lb-ft; that’s down on what the SX made last year, but new tuning has brought peak torque down to 1,450 rpm, improving fuel economy and engine smoothness.

For comparison’s sake: The 2.4L makes more power than any other non-turbo four in the segment save the Jeep Cherokee and Honda CR-V, and more torque than anything save the CR-V and even then, the Honda eclipses the Sportage by just 6 lb-ft. The SX, meanwhile, makes more horsepower than all other top-spec vehicles in the segment apart from the Cherokee, and more torque than everything except the Ford Escape.

Quick Hits: 10 Things to Know About the 2017 Kia Sportage

While clearly the most obvious, the ice cube fogs aren’t the only feature that defines the SX from others; since the turbo engine requires more cooling, the SX’s grille gets a tabbed look, replacing the houndstooth look from other models.

Other styling elements that are new across the board include new wheel styles – in either 17-, 18-, or 19-inch sizes (the 19-inchers on the SX are pretty out there style-wise) – new taillights that now span the entirety of the rear hatch on some models and standard roof spoiler actually make the 2017 model look a little more laid back than the old model. Colour-wise, an all-new Modern Copper hue replaces the old Digital Yellow and Orange Copper options. This, if I may, is a good thing as those colours were a little much, while the new one just looks handsome and upscale. Better still, you can have it on all trims.

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