Kia Sportage LX review: Start in style
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Kia Sportage LX
- Looks great
- Impressive as-standard tech
- Sharp price
- Higher spec models get better fuel economy
- Entry-level interior very basic
- Turn-key ignition is a blast from the past
New Zealand buyers seem to be infatuated with EVs and utes right now, but the mid-sized SUV segment is still by far the most competitive. You’ve got the likes of the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4, but undercutting both these staples is Kia’s all-new Sportage.
Kia NZ offers eight models in the Sportage range, starting with the sharply priced $39,990 LX, and running through to the AWD, diesel-powered X-Line for $61,990. We were handed the keys to the entry-level LX, and got to learn what mid-sized SUV value was all about.
Starting on the outside, the Sportage’s futuristic aesthetic has it looking like anything but one of the best-value SUVs on the market. With its sleek headlight and tail-light design, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a more upmarket European number.
But the LX keeps things very simple inside. It gets an old-fashioned turn-key ignition, and a basic eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with volume and tuning dials. Interestingly, Apple CarPlay is only available in wireless form, but Android Auto works either wirelessly or with a cable. The four-inch digital instrument cluster is also quite a basic unit, but still shows all a driver would need to know.
As for the rest of the interior, it gets hard plastics, piano black trimmings, and cloth upholstery. It’s still a nice place to be with generous space and you’ll be able to squeeze in 543 litres of luggage with the rear seats up.
At the business end of the Sportage LX sits a 2.0-litre petrol engine, which drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Higher-spec models get turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol or 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines, both with fuel economy figures that better the LX’s 8.1l/100km.
This engine makes 115kW/192Nm, which is more than enough for a car of this type, but you won’t be setting any speed records. On the road, the Sportage is comfortable, not overly zippy, but exactly what you’d want from a family-friendly SUV. The ride is forgiving, and the automatic transmission is as smooth as they come. I am a fan of how unobtrusive the active safety systems are, and the adaptive cruise control is a joy to use on the motorway commute.
The adaptive cruise control with a stop-and-go function is standard across the range, which is impressive in itself. Lane keep assist, forward collision avoidance, and blind spot collision avoidance also come as standard.
This Sportage is an incredibly impressive package for its price point. It’s comfortable, practical, and best of all, great value. If you’re looking into the mid-sized SUV category, you’ll probably be across the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, and Mazda CX-5. All three of these Japanese SUVs start at a higher price point (the RAV4 being the cheapest at $38,290).
If we’re talking entry-level models I would lean towards the Kia, thanks to its radical new look and impressive slew of as-standard tech.
KIA SPORTAGE LX
ENGINE: 2.0-litre petrol
GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic, FWD