2015 Kia Sportage
Back in the late-90's, when everybody was aspiring to those BigUVs like the Ford Expedition, and Cadillac Escalade, many people instead, flocked to the pint-sized Kia Sportage. It offered simplistic utility, without being pretentious. It also got way more than 10 mpg, which endeared it to those with an eye on their retirement. Sure, it didn't have much Cul-de-sac Cred, but it got the job done.
Fast forward to 2015, and those gas sipping CuteUtes are all the rage. The Ford Escape and Honda CR-V are the current favorites, with impressive 6-figure sales tallies each. Toyota is also attempting to regain dominance in the market they helped to start, by launching a svelte new version of the Rav4. So Kia has a mountain to climb, if they want to put a dent in those suburban parking lots. The 2015 Kia Sportage is certainly up to the task, but is it good enough to unseat Honda, Ford & Toyota? Let's find out...
2015 Kia Sportage - What's New?
The simple answer is; Not much. Completely redesigned for the 2011 model year, the 2015 Kia Sportage uses Peter Schreyer's Tiger Nose design theme well. The imposing grille is flanked by massive projector beam headlights, with standard LED accent lights, and LED daytime running lights on the 2015 Kia Sportage SX. The overall effect is very upscale, and the tasteful chrome trim along the side re-enforces that premium image. Plus, if you upgrade to the 2015 Kia Sportage EX or the 2015 Kia Sportage SX, you can get those sweet 18-inch wheels that look like Romulan Wheels of Death!
That premium theme is carried to the inside, where you'll find a tasteful adaptation of the Optima's cockpit design. There's a mix of hard and soft plastics, and everything feels well put together. Luxury options include a huge panoramic glass roof, heated front seats (a heated & cooled driver seat is also available), a big touchscreen with Kia's UVO infotainment system, keyless ignition, a backup camera, and for those who want something a little different, the 2015 Kia Sportage EX can be fitted with a special Blue cloth interior.
Under the hood, you'll find Kia's 176-hp 2.4L (sans direct injection), or you can opt for the sport-themed 2015 Kia Sportage SX, which gets their famous 2.0L Turbo-4. In Sportage guise, Kia's little turbo mill belts out 260-hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. With the demise of Toyota's V6-powered Rav4, the 2015 Kia Sportage SX is probably the most powerful trucklet in this class.
Of course, adding a sport package is going to stiffen the ride considerably. And the 2015 Kia Sportage SX is no exception. The ride is firm, but body motions are well controlled. Pitch this little turbo-terror into a curve, and you'll zip out the other side, grinning like a mule eating breyers. If comfort is important to you, avoid this model. Otherwise, wind that turbo up, and get ready to have some fun.
Since AWD is a must-have option for some, Kia has provided a very competent 4-paw system for the 2015 Kia Sportage. Called Dynamax AWD, this system does a good job of shuffling power between the front and back axles. And there's even a lockable center differential, which allows you to keep the power delivery split 50/50 at speeds up to 25 mph. Washed-out dirt roads, and snow will be no problem in your 2015 Kia Sportage AWD. But don't expect mountain goat capability.
In all, the 2015 Kia Sportage is a feature-packed bargain when compared to the small CUV mainstays. Sure, it may lack the powertrain refinement of a Honda, or the whizbang features of a Ford. But the 2015 Kia Sportage offers a compelling amount of style and features for the price.