Kia Sportage Makes U.S. Debut

Updated exterior and interior styling, revised suspensions and engines retuned for better fuel economy and mid-range torque are key changes to the small CUV.

November 18, 2015

4 Min Read
rsquo17 Kia Sportage on sale next year
’17 Kia Sportage on sale next year.

Kia details the U.S.-spec version of its next-generation Sportage today at the 2015 Los Angeles auto show.

First unveiled in September in Frankfurt, the ’17 Sportage is Kia’s fourth generation of the small CUV, and like its platform-mate, the recently redesigned Hyundai Tucson, the Sportage has grown bigger to match the proportions of its closer-to-midsize competition.

Like the Tucson, the Sportage has a 105.1-in. (2,670-mm) wheelbase, up 1.2 ins. (30.4 mm) from ’15.

The Kia CUV is a bit longer than the Hyundai, however, at 176.4 ins. (4,481 mm), 0.2 ins. (5.1 mm) longer than the Tucson and 1.6 ins. (41.0 mm) longer than the outgoing Sportage.

Width remains 73.0 ins. (1,854 mm).

Kia says the Sportage’s face is the most significant styling change, as the brand’s tiger-nose grille is placed lower on the front fascia. It has a mouth-like appearance in relation to the high, swept-back headlights.

The front clip is lower and wider for better engine cooling and to add visual volume to the lower half of the front fascia, Kia says.

The Sportage still has a sloped roofline, sharply raked rear window, short overhangs and wheels pushed to the corners, but now has a longer spoiler for improved aerodynamics, as well as “bolder wheel arches to give the compact CUV a more dynamic appearance.”

LX- and EX-grade Sportages have chrome detail around windows, while the top-grade sport SX Turbo can be identified by its satin exterior trim.

Changes to the inside include a center stack with a new color touchscreen that is canted 10 degrees toward the driver, as well as increased passenger volume, with rear legroom up 0.3 ins. (7.6 mm).

Interiors can be had in all black or 2-tone gray or black and beige. EX and SX Turbo models have leather seating, and the SX Turbo gets a flat-bottom heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters. The SX Turbo also has piano-black trim along the center console and authentic dashboard stitching.

The cargo area is bigger behind the rear seats, jumping more than 4.5 cu.-ft. (0.1 cu.-m). The luggage area is wider, and the cargo floor now has two levels.

Loading cargo should be easier thanks to a lower lift-over height, something achieved by moving the license plate from the Sportage’s bumper to the tailgate.

Noise, vibration and harshness improvements from ’16 to ’17 include a road-noise-isolating quad-bushing setup in the rear suspension, as well as sound-absorbent material in wheel arches, thicker front side glass, panoramic sunroof lip seal and more soundproofing material in doors.

Carryover Engines Retuned for Better Mileage

The ’16 Sportage engines carry over for ’17 but have been retuned for improved fuel efficiency and mid-range torque.

The SX’s 2.0L turbocharged and direct-injected I-4 now makes 241 hp and 260 lb.-ft. (353 Nm) of torque vs. 260 hp and 269 lb.-ft. (365 Nm) in the ’16 SX grade.

The 2.4L naturally aspirated DI 4-cyl. now is rated at 181 hp and 175 lb.-ft. (237 Nm) of torque, down slightly from 180 hp and 176 lb.-ft. (239 Nm) in the ’16 EX and 182 hp and 177 lb.-ft. (240 Nm) in the ’16  LX.

Kia says the Sportage’s fully independent front suspension is completely redesigned to “achieve a leap forward in ride quality.” Greater stability comes from a 4-point bushing setup, and stiffer wheel bearings and bushings sharpen handling.

A dual-member shock absorber housing is added to the fully independent rear suspension.

All-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive Sportages both get a dual lower-arm multilink setup, while the sporty SX Turbo has firmer shock absorbers than the LX and EX grades.

Magna’s Dynamax intelligent AWD system can be had on all gradesand can anticipate and optimize traction in varying road and weather conditions.

The CUV’s steering is changed for ’17, with 25% less friction and the steering box placed farther forward on the axle for improved weight distribution.

As with most redesigned vehicles debuting at the show, the Sportage has a sharp increase in advanced-high-strength steel content. Some 51% of the CUV’s body-in-white is AHSS compared with 18% in the third-gen model, bringing about a 39% increase in torsional rigidity.

AHSS is used as reinforcement in A-, B- and C-pillars, side sills, roof structure and wheel arches, Kia says.

The Sportage offers a variety of advanced safety technologies, including lane-departure warning, blindspot detection and rear-cross-traffic alert.

Creature-comforts include an optional 320-watt Harman Kardon audio system with the company’s Clari-Fi music-restoration technology.

Standard on the LX is a 5-in. (13-cm) touchscreen with Bluetooth, SiriusXM and rear camera, while EX grades get a 7-in. (18-cm) screen and UVO3, the latest generation of Kia’s infotainment system that has up to 8GB of music storage and Pandora and Soundhound apps.

Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone-connectivity software also is standard on the EX.

SX Turbo grades get the same features as the EX but add an 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen and onboard navigation.

While the Sportage hasn’t been fully redesigned since ’11, sales of the model were up 19.5% through October, showing the increased U.S. demand in the segment.

However, the Kia is one of the lower-volume models in WardsAuto’s Small CUV sector, with its 43,484 units trailing the group-leading Jeep Patriot’s 98,910 deliveries.

Pricing for the ’17 model will be released closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date. The ’16 Sportage ranges from $22,150 to $31,490, not including $895 destination and handling.

The CUV will continue to be imported to the U.S. from Kia’s Gwangju, South Korea, plant.

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