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By John-Fredrik Wright
Can you hear that? Ssshhhhh! Can you hear the 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine? Can you hear the wind noise? Can you hear the kids? Can you hear anything?
No. No, we cannot. Because this is a surprisingly quiet vehicle. It may or may not silence toddlers in the back seat, that could just be the parents zoning out and not hearing them.
My objectivity might be little skewed, since I had just gotten off of an 11-hour flight. The flight had not been bad, considering that I was travelling with my two toddlers and wife, but it was 11 hours long. And the noise of the engines (and all the other noises you hear onboard an aircraft), stay with me, echoing on the insides of my skull, until finally, a couple of hours after touch-down finding their way out of my head the same way they got in there.
It was after this flight that I picked up the 2017 Sportage. The kids fell asleep as we left the parking garage, and my wife and I were struck with how quite the car was. It was amazing. It was not what I had expected. Had this been a Mercedes S-class, or an Audi A8, I would not have thought twice about it; in those cars you are supposed to be surrounded by silence… But in a Kia Sportage? Sweet.
The Sportage also delivers other luxuries. Having spent loads of time abroad lately, I realize just how great satellite radio is, and how spoiled we are that pretty much all new cars have it factory installed (you might have to pay for the service, but at least it’s there). The rear-view camera is another thing I would never buy a new car without. As part of the EX Premium Package, there is a myriad of other bells and whistles that help with the drive; Blind Spot Detection, for example, helping me see where my eye cannot. The Rear Cross Traffic Alert system helps out when backing out from parking spaces by “looking” around the vehicles parked next to you and letting you know if there is anything coming your way. Like another car, for example.
Looking at the interior, the Kia Sportage does not disappoint. It’s updated, and both the design and the materials seem and feel fresh and luxurious. Kia, as well as sister Hyundai, have come a long way in this respect. I’ve commented on this before, when reviewing other Kias/Hyundais, but somehow I forget and am surprised each time I get into a new model year update of their vehicles. I was surprised, however, that the Sportage doesn’t seem to offer an adaptive cruise control. The vehicle we tested did not have it, and I can’t seem to find it as an option to any trim version. Considering that Volkswagen offers it on their Golf, I would hope that Kia starts to offer it on their Sportage. It is, however, offered on the Sorento, and a couple of the other Kias, marketed as the Advanced Smart Cruise Control.
The exterior takes some time to get used to. The headlights are a little over the top for my particular taste. “Over the top” has a double meaning: I feel that they are a little too much – jotting up and over the hood, looking a little too much like two bug eyes – for my taste, as well as literally being over the top – of the hood that is. Apart from the two headlights, the styling of the Sportage is pretty mellow. I suppose this, in a way, makes the headlights stand out even more since the rest of the vehicle’s design is not at all as cutting edge-looking.
Driving the Sportage around on the streets of LA – and the freeways for that matter – is no letdown. It drives nicely, just as one can imagine a small SUV, or crossover, would. It reminds you that you are in a higher vehicle, but without making sharp cornering scary. Does it handle like a sports car? Absolutely not. But that’s not the aim either. This fits nicely into the small SUV (/crossover) segment where you can sit up a little higher and get the feeling that you are driving a large car. Without actually having to go pony up for a large SUV.
THE MAIN INGREDIENTS
Name of vehicle:
2017 Kia Sportage EX FWD
$25,500 (base EX)
$30,595 (EX as tested)
EPA fuel economy rating:
22 city/29 highway/25 combined miles per gallon
2.4L GDI 4-cylinder
181 hp @ 6,000
175 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Electronically Controlled 6-Speed Automatic Overdrive w/ Sportmatic®
Front engine/front-wheel drive
EPA size classification*:
Small SUV 2WD
* Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.