2022 Kia Sportage Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Apr 23, 2021

Introduction - Find the best Kia deals!

Kia entered the U.S. market in the early 1990s with two small models: the Sephia sedan and the Sportage SUV. Of the two, only the Sportage remains. Based on quality time spent with a 2022 Kia Sportage, it’s easy to understand why this nameplate has enjoyed such longevity. 

Competing in the hot – and hotly contested – compact crossover SUV segment, the 2022 Sportage is an older design. This 4th-generation version arrived for the 2017 model year, but thanks to a freshening for 2020, it remains worthy of your consideration. This is especially true if you’re seeking a vehicle with an upscale interior, powerful performance, and industry-leading warranty coverage.

Available in LX, Nightfall Edition, EX, and SX Turbo trims, the 2022 Sportage comes with a normally aspirated or a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Each trim is packed full of equipment and value.

Changes since we last reviewed the Sportage in 2017 are too numerous to mention. For the 2022 model year, Kia makes the following changes to the Sportage:

  • LX Value Edition Package added (includes dark gray 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, keyless entry with push-button start)
  • S trim discontinued, replaced by Nightfall Edition with blacked-out appearance
  • EX trim adds standard panoramic sunroof

This is likely the last year for the current-generation Sportage, which is due for a redesign for the 2023 model year.

What Owners Say About the Kia Sportage - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia Sportage SX Turbo Blue Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

According to data collected from verified owners for the J.D Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 55% of Kia Sportage owners are female (vs. 49% for the segment). The median age of a Sportage owner is 59 years (matching the segment average).

Owners say their favorite things about the Sportage are (in descending order) the:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Getting in and out

Owners indicate their least favorite things about the Sportage are (in descending order) the: 

  • Powertrain
  • Driving comfort
  • Setting up and starting
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the J.D. Power 2020 APEAL Study, the Sportage ranked number 12 out of 15 compact SUVs.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Kia Sportage - Find the best Kia deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of a Sportage SX equipped with the following options:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Carpeted floor mats
  • Cargo mat
  • Tow hitch 

The price of the test vehicle came to $37,100, including the $1,175 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Kia Sportage SX Turbo Black Leather Front Seats

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

A fully loaded Kia Sportage SX Turbo meets, and even exceeds, expectations with regard to comfort, quality, and design. 

The interior exudes sophistication through soft-touch materials, polished metallic accents, contrast seat stitching and piping, and a perfect balance between physical and digital controls. Overhead, a panoramic glass roof stretches all of the way to the cargo area, bathing the cabin in natural light. And each time you drive the Sportage, the transmission shifter’s robust and refined action imparts a satisfying sense of quality.

Seat comfort impresses, too, and you’ll discover that you can sit up quite high in this SUV if that’s your preference. Both front seats offer power adjustment, with 10-way operation for the driver seat and 8-way for the passenger seat. Soft leather, heated and ventilated cushions, and a heated steering wheel help to make travel more enjoyable regardless of the weather.

If you’re getting into the back seat, or simply loading children, don’t accidentally smack yourself in the face while opening the back door. Because the Sportage has no rear quarter windows, the widest part of the door is the upper corner. This section can pass uncomfortably close to your head as you open the rear door.

Once you’ve climbed into the back seat, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The seat cushion offers good leg support and a comfortable backrest angle, and there are air conditioning vents to keep you cool when the day is hot. Hard plastic front seatback panels aren’t ideal, but they’re only an issue for taller passengers with longer legs.

Storage space is decent. While the cargo area looks small, it holds four full-size suitcases without any trouble.

UVO Link Infotainment System Review

2022 Kia Sportage Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

If you know how to use a smartphone, you’ll understand how to operate the Sportage SX Turbo’s driver information center and infotainment system. Each offers the ability to adjust various vehicle functions to specific preferences. Once you’ve set things up to suit your preferences, interaction will be quick and minimal.

In the top-of-the-line version of the Sportage SX Turbo, the infotainment system includes:

  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • UVO Link connected services
  • Navigation with voice recognition

Additionally, wireless smartphone charging is standard on this version of the Sportage. The SX Turbo also has a Harman Kardon premium sound system with eight speakers and Clari-Fi digital music restoration technology. It provides remarkably good sound quality for this segment.

Compared to some compact crossover SUVs, the Sportage’s UVO Link infotainment system is behind the times. The 8-inch display is smaller than what you’ll find in some competitors. Also, UVO Link does not provide access to a Wi-Fi hotspot, and the voice recognition technology is not up to modern standards.

However, Kia deftly integrates the screen between the Sportage’s air vents, and the row of buttons living between traditional stereo volume and tuning knobs adds simplicity. Dual-zone automatic climate control functions are separate from the touchscreen, too.

If you’ve experienced the latest and greatest infotainment tech, the Sportage is a letdown. If you haven’t, you’ll be happy with its refreshing ease of use.

What It’s Like to Drive the 2022 Kia Sportage

2022 Kia Sportage SX Turbo Blue Side View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

In a word, the Kia Sportage SX Turbo is fun. But that description comes with caveats.

The main reason a Sportage SX Turbo is enjoyable to drive is the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine under its hood. It whips up 240 horsepower at 6,000 rpm (237 hp with AWD). More importantly, it delivers 260 pound-feet of torque from 1,450 rpm to 3,500 rpm.

Even though the SX Turbo AWD weighs almost two tons, the engine gives this little SUV an exuberant personality. Some people might find it too exuberant, because all of that torque can arrive with neck-snapping thrust. Depending on what gear the 6-speed automatic is in, and the situation, the SX Turbo’s power delivery behaves like an on/off switch. 

Switching from Normal to Sport mode – which readies the Sportage SX Turbo for a good time – helps to smooth this behavior out. So does choosing to shift manually using the steering wheel paddle shifters. With both of these approaches, though, the behavior doesn’t disappear completely. 

Do you live where it snows? Or maybe you simply want to make maximum use of the Sportage’s turbocharged engine. In either case, you’re going to want the Sportage SX Turbo’s optional Dynamax all-wheel-drive system. It automatically sends power to the rear wheels as road surface and driving situations require. A locking center differential evenly splits power distribution between the front and rear axles to maximize traction at low speeds.

Kia adds a sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels and tires to every Sportage SX Turbo. Yet the SUV feels a little softer than you might expect, and the ride quality offers enough compliance that it doesn’t feel harsh over uneven pavement. Similar to its big brother, the Telluride SUV, the Sportage seemingly glides over the worst surfaces.

Toss the Sportage down a favorite back road, and you’ll wish for quicker and sharper steering. You’ll also long for tires that grip better and don’t squeal well short of the handling limit. The SUV shows its engineering age, too. Sharper impacts travel up through the suspension and into the Sportage’s structure.

So, while its compact dimensions, upscale design, turbocharged power plant, and quad-element daytime running light signature might suggest the Sportage SX Turbo is a Korean Porsche Macan, it’s not.

Kia Drive Wise Review

2022 Kia Sportage ADAS Settings

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Sportage’s Kia Drive Wise collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) is basic, but it gets the job done. You get everything you need, and nothing you don’t.

Choose SX Turbo trim, and Kia Drive Wise equips the Sportage with the following ADAS:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability
  • Forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assistance
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic warning
  • Driver monitoring system
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Additionally, UVO Link supplies 911 Assist. To use this feature, pair your smartphone via Bluetooth. If a collision occurs and your phone has a signal, it will automatically make a call to rush emergency responders to your location.

Over the course of 230 miles of driving, the adaptive cruise control proved smooth and effective. The lane-keeping assistance (LKA) legitimately prevented the Sportage from wandering into a bike lane while I examined the navigation map to determine my next turn. However, that same effective LKA behavior caused instances of irritation and aggravation when its corrections were unwelcome.

Generally speaking, the Sportage’s Kia Drive Wise collection offers impressive tech. But if you’re looking for a Level 2 driving aid such as the automaker’s Highway Driving Assist, it’s not available for this SUV.

2022 Kia Sportage FAQ - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia Sportage Cargo Space

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

How much cargo space does the 2022 Kia Sportage have?

Behind its rear seat, the 2022 Sportage holds 30.7 cubic feet of cargo. Fold the back seat flat to create 60.1 cubic feet of volume. These figures fall short of segment leaders.

The test vehicle had Kia’s smart tailgate technology. It detects the presence of the key fob and opens automatically after a several-second delay marked by three beeps. This is great when your hands are full because there is no need to balance on one leg while waving your other leg underneath the back bumper to activate a sensor. This is not great when you’re standing near the back of the Sportage with no desire to open the cargo hold. 

If you’d rather not use the smart tailgate, you can turn it off using a menu in the driver information center.

Does the 2022 Kia Sportage get good gas mileage?

According to the EPA, the Sportage SX AWD should return 21 mpg in combined driving. For this review, we used a modified testing route that included more highway driving than is typical, and the Sportage returned 23 mpg.

With its 16.4-gallon fuel tank, this result translates into 375 miles of driving range, or 335 miles if you’re leaving yourself some cushion. 

Is the 2022 Kia Sportage safe?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Kia Sportage earns an overall rating of five stars. However, the SUV provides 4-star protection for the driver in a frontal-impact collision.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls the Sportage a Top Safety Pick for the 2021 calendar year. Only the SX Turbo trim earns an Acceptable headlight performance rating, though. Other trims rate Poor.

How much is the 2022 Kia Sportage?

The 2022 Kia Sportage price range is from $24,090 for the LX trim with front-wheel drive to $35,250 for the SX Turbo trim with AWD. The destination charge is $1,175.

What are the 2022 Kia Sportage competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the Hyundai Tucson ranked highest in the compact SUV segment. The Kia Sportage and the Chevrolet Equinox were the next highest-ranked models. 

In the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study (APEAL), the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5 tied for the top ranking in the compact SUV segment. The GMC Terrain was the next highest-ranked model.

Other competitors to the Kia Sportage include the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia Sportage SX Turbo Blue Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

If the 2022 Kia Sportage were a human being, it would be getting its first invitations to join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). In other words, it remains a vibrant and productive member of the Kia SUV family and still has plenty of life left in it. But it just isn’t as young, athletic, and competitive as it once was.

There is plenty to like about the 2022 Kia Sportage. This is a high-quality, comfortable, safe, and stylish compact crossover SUV. With the SX Turbo trim, it’s even upscale and thrilling to drive in its own way. But the time has come for a complete overhaul, which is undoubtedly coming soon.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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