2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD – Quick Review

(Contributing Editor: Susan Frissell, Women With Wheels.com)

When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Korean brand Kia is currently sizzling. Last year it sold 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. alone. That represented a nearly 8% increase over previous year sales.

As a carmaker which ditched lot of its econobox product in the past decade, it’s no surprise that not a single Kia product is a dominant seller in any single market segment.

Despite having double duties at sister carmaker Hyundai, Design Chief Peter Schreyer has a cleaner slate with the younger Kia brand, successfully infusing cutting edge trends with classic lines.

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WHAT: 2017 Kia Sportage SX-T AWD 2-Row compact Crossover Utility Vehicle. It’s the wilder cousin to Hyundai’s Tuscon.

Standard Power: transverse 2.4L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 181 hp/ 175 lb-ft + 6-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle.

OPTIONAL: 2.0L DOHC 16V DI intercooled turbocharged gas I-4 = 240 hp/ 260 lb-ft + upgraded 6-speed automatic.

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD compact crossover utility vehicle

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Mimicking toned human muscles Sportage sports bulges; Exaggerated fender arching emphasized by long HID lighting housings ; Hood = deep valley; Front fascia corner quad LED fog lights; Front & rear lower matte aluminum pseudo skid plates;

Concave door panels feed rising cheat line contrasting with sharp raked roof line finished with spoiler; Stunted D-pillar = near “Floating Roof”; Belt line taps liftgate mid-section, Thin taillamp housing connected by metallic wisp conveys width; Twin chrome exhaust tips;

WHY: A gutsy compact CUV value intentionally bearing more than a passing resemblance to something from Zuffenhausen.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Spring 2016

WHERE: Kia new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Ulsan , South Korea

WHERE TO: Optional Magna multi-plate wet clutch, open differential all-wheel drive, e-varies front/ rear traction from 100/0% – lockable at maximum 50/50%, with ABS descent control. < 7″ clearance = dirt road but not gully capable;

HOW ROADWORTHY: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC DI gas 4-cylinder has get up and go; 6-speed planetary automatic carries over, at times hiccuping over boost lag; Quicker rebound dampers quell pitch; Sprung soft allows lean & plow; Electric steering exhibits meaningful heft, yet intervals of response vagueness persist; Brake bite arrives late with abrupt pedal travel; Gas Engine clatter?; Cabin is muted to road noise; wing mirror wind whistle begins near triple digits.

HOW FAR: 22 combined miles per gallon = slightly > larger mid-size Sorento.

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: fits 5 adult occupants; Rear knees aren’t likely to abut front seat backs, though rear hats might graze the panoramic moonroof; Sharp raked roof cuts into cargo capacity;

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD compact crossover utility vehicle: cargo storage

HOW USEFUL: Chrome metal load floor skid plate; near flat folding 60/40% split 2nd Row tilting seatbacks; -1 Forward visibility from bulging fenders / -1 Outward rear visibility from small backlight; Tow Rating: 2,000 lbs.

HOW SAFE: 8 airbags; IIHS Safety Pick +; Rear camera; sonar front & rear Park Assist, Roll Mitigation, Blind spot, rear cross traffic warning & lane departure warning.

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD compact crossover utility vehicle: panorama moon roof

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Heated & cooled driver/ front passenger seats; 6-way power driver’s ; Heated steering; D-shape heated leather steering wheel with spoke integrated tactile redundant controls; Semi toggle-style center stack switches and metallic tipped door switchgear; Contrast stitching;

Cool Gizmo(s): Key-fob proximity hands-free power liftgate & power folding wing mirrors; Panoramic roof.

Nearly Non-Descript: Short seat cushions; Leather wears premature, Faux embossed dashtop stitching; Hard plastic front seat backs advertise scuffs.

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD compact crossover utility vehicle: cabin controls, instrumentation, 8″ UVO touch LCD infotainment/ navigation display

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: 8″ matte capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen; +1 Large icons; Voice command hands-free communications; 3-D SD GPS navigation ; Subscription based Sirius TravelLink Sports, Weather, Traffic; Fueling; Cinema; ; subscription fee based UVO telematics; ; Harman Kardon sound system more Clarify-ed than outgoing Infinity audio; UVO Apps: Pandora, SoundHound USB x 2, 12V x 3.

HOW MUCH: $34, 895 = fully loaded 2017 Kia Sportage SX-T AWD ; base front-drive Sportage LX = $22,900.

WHAT’S MISSING: More engaging transmission; Driver seat/ mirror position memory; Quieter & less sensitive LDW alarm; Android Auto/ Apple Car Play, 115V outlet, +1 Cargo management; > Cabin color contrast; SMS messaging app.

ANY COMPETITION: Ford Escape 2.0T: +1 lustier powertrain & semi-autonomous driving; Jeep Cherokee 2.7 V6, Subaru Forester 2.0T: +1 off-road creds; Volkswagen Tiguan: Teutonic build.

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