The Kia Sportage is not a new vehicle. In fact, it was one of the first cars that was introduced to the US market when Kia opened up shop in this country. At that time, it was a straight-forward, compact SUV that could go off-road and it was priced low enough for most people to afford it. As the trend moved towards smaller and smaller utility vehicles, and more premium and luxury touches inside, the line became blurred between crossovers, body-on-car frame, body-on-truck frame, sit-high-to-the-ground, sit-high-to-the-ground, and every other combination of confusion. The little Sportage somehow made it through all the mixture and has been a consistent, low-priced compact utility vehicle.
Kia provided a new 2013 Sportage SX All-Wheel-Drive model for a week-long media test drive. It was an attractive 'Signal Red' with a black interior. It came equipped with a laundry list of included items, mostly because the SX is the top trim level available for the Sportage. In addition, it had the SX Premium Package added that included a lot of extras, which were most appreciated during the cold, wintry weather mix we experienced that week.
The Compact SUV class of vehicles is fairly crowded with entries, even if they are not necessarily designated as such. The Kia Sportage fits right into the group with a decent price, attractive exterior, good handling, and a lot of technological niceties. The downsides are that the price is not longer near the bottom of the pack and off-roading capability has disappeared.
There are three trim levels in the 2013 Sportage: LX, EX, and SX. The LX is the base entry and because it is the lowest price, is the most popular. It is outfitted with manual transmission and has a starting price of about $22,000. Almost everything extra is considered an option. The mid-level trim model is the EX and starts at about $25,000 but it includes the Convenience Package. The top trim level is the SX and is priced about $28,000. The SX offers so much more, including 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust, leather seats, push-button ignition, Supervision gauges, and a lot more.
The SX test model furnished had an MSRP of $28,400 with a Navigation System and SX Premium Package added. This made the ride so much more enjoyable, especially during the extreme bad weather. The Premium Package provides heated front seats, air-cooled drivers seat, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cargo cover, panoramic sunroof, and heated outside mirrors. Bottom sticker price with all this, including destination and delivery, was $32,400.
Driving and handling was more than adequate. It was not a family car by day and a race car by night. It was a crossover SUV that could take bumpy roads, icy slick surfaces, and mushy wet dirt roads equally well. The All-Wheel-Drive with a locking center differential was the key to the bad weather driving. The 2013 Sportage has a thick steering wheel which is easy to hold onto during harsh driving conditions. The wheel is both tilt and telescoping, as well as leather-wrapped.
Cargo room was less than what had been expected for a vehicle called an SUV. But remember, this is a Compact Crossover. The rear seats can be folded flat with the rear cargo floor and there is also a storage bin under the floor. Without the rear seats being used, cargo capacity is barely over 26 cubic feet.
There is not very much to complain about in the 2013 Kia Sportage. The door panels are hard plastic rather than soft padded leather. Taking the vehicle on the highway for a several hour road trip made me very aware of how hard plastic can affect your arm when you are resting it on the door panel. I liked the driver's seat height adjustment, which allowed me to raise the seat sufficiently for my height. However, the passenger seat was limited to front and back movement only.
The 2013 Kia Sportage SX is EPA rated at 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 23 mpg overall. At the end of the week, I was reading just 22.4 mpg overall and that included about 50% Interstate highway driving. The possible culprit in the lower-than-expected mileage was the severe weather and muddy back roads.
Although it had a little too much hard plastic in the cabin area and not enough cargo capacity, I really did like that turbocharged engine in the SX. It really did handle those back-roads well. The cabin was very comfortable and allowed me to enjoy the ride. The technology was everything needed to make the week enjoyable and entertaining – at least when I was not doing battle with the 'thunder-snow' weather and resulting ice pellets.