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2015 Kia Sportage

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/24/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

On the 2015 Kia Sportage, UVO is now on a separate package for LX models. SX models gain hands-free keyless access with push-button start, power folding outside mirrors, new 18-inch wheels with black inserts and a navigation system as standard equipment.

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Kia Sportage is a five-passenger compact crossover sold in three trim levels and in front- or all-wheel drive. Along with the compact Sephia sedan, it was one of the first Kia vehicles sold in the U.S. when it entered in the 1990s.

Overview

The 2015 Kia Sportage offers two four-cylinder engines: a 2.4-liter with 182 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque and a turbocharged 2.0-liter rated at 260 hp and 269 lb-ft. Both are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is average for the class, with the 2.4-liter achieving 21/28 mpg city/highway in front-drive guise and 19/26 mpg with all-wheel-drive. The turbo-four is the better choice between the two, since it doesn't sacrifice too much fuel efficiency, with front-drive variants getting 20/26 mpg and 19/24 mpg for all-wheel-drive models.

Turbo-four-equipped Sportages provide good acceleration that makes passing and merging even on uphill roads easier due to its 78 hp and 92 lb-ft advantage over the 2.4-liter. Road manners are in need of improvement, because the suspension "gets harsh over bumps," transmits impacts into cabin, and isn't as precise, requiring a lot of corrections. Driving the crossover over rough surfaces requires constant correction due to its tendency to wander and road irregularities "pushing the little CUV around."

Interior quality isn't impressive, with a dash made "almost entirely from hard plastic" that only "looks great in photographs." Seat comfort is also a low point with "hard and unsupportive seats up front" and snug rear quarters. Tech and convenience features are ample and include a panoramic sunroof, navigation, LED daytime running lights, and heated seats. Additionally, its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty makes it a good value in its class.

Depending on the drivetrain configuration, the 2015 Kia Sportage has a four- or five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars).

What We Think

The 2015 Kia Sportage lags behind the competition in comfort and driving dynamics due to its unsupportive seats and unnecessarily stiff chassis with no handling benefits. In a 2012/2013 Comparison Test of compact crossovers, the Sportage placed fourth due to its "poorly controlled" ride, "stiff and inaccurate" suspension, and low-rent cabin filled with cheap materials. We noted that the front seats are extremely unsupportive and were described to be as "hard as a wooden chair."

In a 2012 First Test, we said that the base 2.4-liter powertrain was disappointing since it lacked punch and felt sluggish compared to competitors like the Ford Escape.

You'll Like

  • Available turbo-four
  • Many available tech and convenience features
  • Long powertrain warranty

You Won't Like

  • Chassis and suspension need improvements
  • Weak 2.4-liter I-4
  • Low quality and uncomfortable seating in front

Key Competitors

  • Toyota RAV4
  • Honda CR-V
  • Subaru Forester
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Ford Escape

Rating

2 star

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