It’s hard to believe, but the Kia Sportage has been around since 1993, making it Kia’s longest running model, and the Korean company just announced the fourth generation for 2017.
Designed to stand out in the crowded CUV market, the Sportage’s new face is dominated by aggressively swept-back headlights and Kia’s trademark grille. A more aggressive look is found in the body through sharp creases, sweeping curves and wheels pushed out to each corner. The up-level SX Turbo model also receives new LED fog lamps, HID headlamps and a host of other safety and aesthetic touches. All of this combines to make the Sportage look like it’s hunkered down and ready to pounce.
The new Sportage is almost two inches longer, with a wheelbase lengthened a little more than an inch. Overall width, surprisingly, given the more muscular look, is exactly the same as the outgoing model, making it just as easy to park in tight urban situations as before.
Kia took full advantage of the larger exterior to improve the interior ergonomics and comfort. Headroom has increased slightly in the front and back, and the floor for the second row has been lowered for both the FWD and AWD models without losing any ground clearance, giving rear passengers a more comfortable seating position. Available driver assistance devices run the gamut of technology currently found on much more expensive vehicles.
Motivating all of this newness are two carryover engines. LX and EX models get the same 2.4-liter engine as before, retuned for better fuel mileage. The 2.0-liter turbo engine found on the FWD SX Turbo has also been tweaked to provide more miles per gallon and more midrange grunt. Updated suspension and steering mean that you can hustle this new efficiency around with less effort and more control.
Almost 25 years after its humble Mazda Bongo platform beginnings, Kia’s Sportage has been transformed once again to be distinctive in a highly competitive segment of the utility vehicle market.