The Kia Sportage is a sporty crossover utility vehicle, conveniently sized and well-executed in almost every way. The Sportage coaxes both ample performance and decent fuel economy from a choice of two moderately sized engines.
The 2013 Kia Sportage with the standard 176-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine earns an EPA City/Highway rating of 20/27 mpg with automatic and all-wheel drive (AWD); front-wheel-drive 2013 Sportage models achieve an even better 21/30 mpg rating. Aiding fuel efficiency is a relatively lean curb weight of 3200-3400 pounds.
The Sportage SX, with its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, delivers the power and torque we'd expect from a V6: 260 horsepower and 296 pound-feet, respectively. The 2013 Sportage SX gets a respectable 21/28 mpg EPA City/Highway rating with front-wheel drive and 20/25 mpg with AWD.
We found the standard 2.4-liter engine delivers its power smoothly and mostly in a linear manner, with only an occasional, slight surge after an upshift in the automatic as the electronics adjust to the changing load. Those gear changes are clean, if not remarkably sharp, with ready downshifts for overtaking or merging.
The steering feels heavier in the AWD version but is reasonably responsive in both, with good directional stability. All-wheel drive comes with a limited locking feature for low-speed use in adverse conditions.
The 2013 Kia Sportage is changed only slightly from last year. 2013 Sportage models can be distinguished by revised Kia badges. Power folding mirrors and sun visor extenders come on all 2013 Sportage models. LED accent lights come on 2013 Sportage LX and 2013 Sportage EX models; the 2013 Sportage SX gets LED daytime running lights. The 2013 Sportage EX is available with a new blue interior package. Sportage was redesigned for the 2011 model year. Some interior features were added for 2012.
The styling looks fresh and sharp from every angle. Character lines are crisp but subdued, contrasting nicely with the overall rounded look. Blackened lower trim panels imply good ground clearance while keeping the tires visually in proper proportion to the body.
We found the interior accommodations comfortable, though the Sportage lacks the interior roominess of its competitors, the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester. The front seats offer good support. Leather-trimmed seats and an air-cooled driver's seat is available. An AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker stereo with SiriusXM radio comes standard, with a subwoofer and external amplifier optional. An optional navigation system with a touch screen includes a rearview camera, an excellent safety feature. Sportage EX and SX get dual-zone, automatic climate control.
Cargo capacity is a generous 26.1 cubic feet behind the second seat but a less-impressive 54.6 cubic feet with the second seat folded. Translation: It's handier for hauling people than large amounts of cargo.
The 2013 Kia Sportage comes in four trim levels: Sportage, Sportage LX, Sportage EX, and Sportage SX. Sportage, LX and EX models come with the 2.4-liter engine, while the 2.0-liter turbo is exclusive to the SX. The base model is available with front-wheel drive only; LX, EX, and SX can be ordered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD).
Sportage ($19,000) comes standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, Bluetooth capability, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM satellite radio with USB and auxiliary ports, 60/40 flat folding rear seat, trip computer, and P215/70R16 black wall tires on alloy wheels. New for 2013 are LED accent lights for the headlamp clusters, now standard on all models. The base model comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive; an automatic transmission is not available.
Sportage LX ($21,200) and Sportage LX AWD ($22,700) add the 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission, LED turn signals on the outside mirrors, privacy glass on all but the forward windows, keyless entry, and 225/60R17 tires on17-inch alloy wheels. Factory options are limited to a Convenience Package ($1,800) that bundles UVO/Microsoft voice-activated infotainment with a backup warning system, rearview camera, telescopic steering column, roof rails, rear spoiler, heated power mirrors, cargo cover, cooling glove box, floor mats, and lighted vanity mirrors; and a Navigation Package ($1,500) with SiriusXM traffic information, rearview camera display and a premium audio system boosted by a subwoofer and an external amplifier.
Sportage EX ($24,200) and Sportage EX AWD ($25,700) upgrade with dual-zone climate control with ionized air filter, stain-resistant seat fabric, power driver's seat including lumbar, telescoping steering wheel, premium UVO, backup warning system, auto headlamps, fog lamps, leather trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, lighted vanity mirrors, cooling glove box, floor mats, and P235/55R18 tires on alloy wheels. The EX Premium Package ($3,100) includes leather seat trim, heated front seats, air-cooled driver seat, push-button start-stop, upgraded Supervision gauge cluster, panoramic sunroof, power-folding heated mirrors, auto-dimming inside mirror with Homelink and compass, and a cargo cover. Premium-package buyers can add Navigation ($1,200) with rear camera display and SiriusXM Traffic, but in so doing surrender the UVO system. The one remaining factory option for the EX is a no-cost two-tone blue interior with black headliner, which is not available with the Premium Package or Navigation.
Sportage SX ($26,900) and Sportage SX AWD ($28,4000) feature the more powerful turbocharged engine and upgrade to leather seats, Supervision gauge cluster, push-button start-stop, and power folding outside mirrors. Special appearance features include a black mesh grille outlined in dark chrome, LED daytime running lights, and dual exhausts. The SX Premium package ($2,000) adds heated front seats, air-cooled driver's seat, heated outside mirrors, auto-dimming inside mirror with Homelink and compass, cargo cover, and a panoramic sunroof. Navigation ($1,200) with rearview camera and SiriusXM Traffic is available but deletes the UVO.
Safety features include full-length side curtains with rollover sensor, ABS, Electronic Stability Control with traction control, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and tire pressure monitoring system. Also standard are Downhill Brake Control, which when engaged automatically regulates downhill speed to no more than 5 mph, and Hill-start Assist Control, which keeps the Sportage from rolling backward when starting on a hill. The optional rearview camera can help the driver notice small children behind the vehicle when backing up.