2017 Kia Sportage Preview
- Completely redesigned, inside and out
- Stiffer structure for improved safety, ride, and handling
- Significant improvement in terms of safety technologies
- Next-generation UVO3 infotainment system debuts
- Larger inside, with more room for people and cargo
- Quieter and more refined interior
- Available turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
- Available all-wheel-drive (AWD) system
Although the redesigned 2017 Sportage already debuted in Europe, Kia introduced the North American version to the media and the public at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. In U.S. specification, the new fourth-generation 2017 Sportage is available in LX, EX, and SX Turbo trim levels. It competes in the compact crossover SUV segment, entering battle against the most popular types of vehicles sold in America.
Longer than the outgoing model, and sitting on a stretched wheelbase, the redesigned 2017 Sportage reflects a new approach to Kia’s traditional “tiger-nose” styling. The headlights now sit appreciably higher than the grille and sweep up toward the windshield pillars. Pundits have unflatteringly likened the appearance to the now-defunct Subaru B9 Tribeca, but there’s also a hint of Porsche Macan in the Sportage’s new face.
Kia retains the rakish roofline and thick rear roof pillars that are Sportage signatures, making it instantly recognizable in profile. The bodywork is more aerodynamic than before, and designers have kept the crossover’s wheels pushed to the corners in order to reduce the amount of front and rear overhang.
The SX Turbo’s 19-in. aluminum wheels give the Sportage a sizable footprint, and this version of the SUV also includes HID headlights, LED fog lights, and LED taillights.
Kia’s latest interior design ethos is evident within the new Sportage’s cabin, where the automaker aims for a simple, clean, and modern appearance. Soft-touch materials, metallic trim and accents, and available 2-tone interior treatments give the Sportage an upscale look and feel.
The dashboard is divided into an upper display zone and a lower control zone, and Kia angles the center control panel and touch-screen infotainment system 10 degrees toward the driver. Visibility is improved, too, thanks to thinner roof pillars and a larger rear window.
Cargo space is larger than before, growing from 26.1 cu. ft. behind the rear seat to 30.7 cu. ft. A lower liftover height makes it easier to load and unload heavy items.
Depending on the trim level, the 2017 Kia Sportage is available with a number of optional features. Leather upholstery is standard for the EX and SX Turbo, while the SX Turbo gets a flat-bottom heated steering wheel, aluminum pedals, piano black interior trim, and real stitching on the dashboard.
A panoramic sunroof is available for the new Sportage, and is larger than the same option on the previous model. A smart power rear liftgate is designed to automatically open when it senses the presence of the keyless entry fob, while a 12-way power driver’s seat, 10-way power front passenger’s seat, and heated front seats keep occupants comfortable.
Under the Hood
A 181-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard for the Sportage LX and EX, re-tuned to deliver better fuel economy. The SX Turbo gets a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, with the torque spread across an appreciable portion of the engine’s rev range in order to supply a steady and continuous stream of power.
A 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode is standard with both engines, driving the Sportage’s front wheels. Paddle shifters are included for the SX Turbo in order to make the SUV more fun to drive, Kia says.
Kia’s Dynamax AWD system is optional, equipped with a locking center differential that can evenly split engine power to the front and rear wheels when necessary. Otherwise, the AWD system continuously varies the power split depending on driving conditions. The Sportage AWD is equipped with a different front bumper in order to improve the SUV’s approach angle.
For 2017, Kia has refined the Sportage’s steering and suspension. Aiming to provide better road feel and to allow the driver to make smoother and more precise steering inputs, engineers reduced friction within the steering gear while moving components to improve the SUV’s weight distribution.
Kia expects suspension changes to provide improved vehicle stability, more precise handling, and more natural response to driver inputs and changing road surface conditions. The SX Turbo gets firmer suspension tuning for more athletic handling.
Kia has increased the use of advanced high-strength steel in the Sportage’s structure from 18% to 51%, and the material is now used to reinforce the SUV’s roof pillars, roof structure, side sills, and wheel arches. As a result, engineers predict that the new 2017 Sportage will earn top crash-test ratings from the federal government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
While a more robust architecture is the foundation for crash protection, it helps to be able to avoid a collision in the first place. Whereas the old Sportage could be optioned with a reversing camera and a UVO eServices with 911 Connect, but nothing more, the new Sportage offers those features in addition to the latest driver-assistance and accident-avoidance technologies.
Critically, an automatic emergency braking system can detect when a possible collision with an object or pedestrian might occur, and can autonomously brake the SUV in order to try to bring the Sportage to a halt prior to impact. A blind-spot warning system with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert system, and a lane-departure warning system are available for the new 2017 Sportage, as are adaptive headlights that help the driver to see around dark corners and curves.
The Sportage LX features a touch-screen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, streaming-audio capability, satellite radio, and a reversing camera. Stepping up to the Sportage EX supplies Kia’s new UVO3 infotainment system, which debuts on this version of the SUV.
The new UVO3 system includes a 7-in. touch-screen display and provides support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-integration platforms. Owners have 8 GB of system music storage, can access Pandora and Soundhound right from the screen, and can tether a smartphone to create a Wi-Fi hotspot. Add navigation and an 8-in. display screen replaces the 7-in. screen. Also, don’t forget that all of this, plus UVO’s connected services programs, are free of charge with no subscription necessary because they are powered by your connected smartphone.
An optional 320-watt Harmon Kardon premium audio system is also new for the 2017 Sportage, featuring 8 speakers and Clari-Fi music-restoration technology.