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Sunday Drive: Kia Sportage gets a boost in power and technology

By Craig and Deanne Conover - | Sep 25, 2021

2020 Sportage

Crossovers are still all the rage with the motoring public, and the Kia Sportage has been around since 1993. The Sportage has had its ups and downs in the marketplace; however, it is now one of the leading contenders in the fiercely competitive compact crossover market.

This crossover segment is one of the most popular in the country no matter where one may live. From the highest mountains to the beach, everyone seems to want a small crossover to get around and move all their stuff about.

We are the perfect example of this phenomenon. As baby boomers, we own a compact crossover and love all the abilities that come with it, including sitting a little higher and feeing safer. This is especially true when these vehicles come nicely equipped with all the safety features currently available. We really enjoyed our week with the Kia and all the extra power that came with the turbo-charged SX.

2020 Sportage

The new SX model comes complete with an inline, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that puts out a very nice 240 horsepower and gives the small crossover all kinds of power. There are two other trim levels available that Kia has named the LX and EX, although at these levels the engine becomes an inline 2.4-liter engine that makes 181 horsepower. We definitely got the sportier of the three versions for our week with the new Sportage.

We had the opportunity to take a long drive on the Saturday afternoon of our week with the Sportage in late July, heading all the way through Sanpete County to Gunnison. On the way, we encountered all kinds of driving environments from summer sun to a huge downpour between Manti and Gunnison.

2020 Sportage

The all-wheel drive Sportage took it all in stride, handling anything Mother Nature could throw our way with ease. Even when the road was soaked with water, on the Sportage went without even a hint of slippage.

During the week, we achieved an average of just over 23 miles per gallon, which was up about 2 from the 21 that the EPA said we should get. This is not the best mileage one might find in this segment of vehicle, but Kia is also the only company to add weight through a vehicle redesign in the recent past. Most companies are trying to cut weight and gain mileage any way possible.

Kia has a different attitude in this department as they have increased both the length and width of the new Sportage. The weight increased from 300 to 600 pounds, but there is also an additional 18% of storage space inside along with more leg room and headroom both front and back.

2020 Sportage

The design is outside of the box enough to catch attention, with Kia banking on that fact to position itself in the market as a different choice. In addition, the folks at Kia have included so many extras as standard in the SX trim, it would be hard to look the other way when comparing it against the competition.

The SX is equipped with 19-inch wheels with a nice standout four-spoke design along with a full complement of LED exterior lighting. In the SX, the headlights “bend” into the corners — or, better said, swivel in the direction of travel — and also include automatic high beam function.

The interior of the Kia continued to impress us, offering luxury we really were not expecting. It featured a European flair with a plethora of buttons controlling the many functions that came standard in the SX. These was also an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and SirusXM radio.

Keyless entry, push button start and dual-zone climate control were also standard. The seats were trimmed in leather and heated and cooled in the front; we haven’t seen many in this segment that also included a cooling function.

The steering wheel was a sport wheel that has a flat bottom, again adding to the fun-to-drive quotient. Add that to the horsepower that comes with the SX, and we had a great combination. Of course, the steering wheel was heated and contained all the buttons needed to make using the phone or radio easy for the driver, allowing him to keep his eyes on the road.

It seemed the features just kept on going in this small SUV. On the safety side, it was equipped with a rear-view camera, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and an autonomous emergency braking system.

2020 Sportage

There was also adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, which kept the Sportage very well-mannered during our long drive. It even continued to function during the heavy rain we encountered during our journey.

The new Kia Sportage SX is so much fun to drive and easy to maneuver around town or out on the open road. It could easily be classified as some kind of a hot hatch with all the power that comes standard, and with a few after-market parts, who knows what kind of street machine one could end up with?

Since small SUVs are all the rage right now, don’t forget there is a fantastic offering from Kia in this department, one that can be had with a whole lot of “sport.” See the new Sportage today at Doug Smith Kia, 495 W. Main, American Fork, 877-495-4690.

Base price: $36,120

Destination: $1,120

Price as driven: $37,290


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