The 2020 Kia Sportage is a compact crossover of a different variety, with exaggerated styling and sportier-than-expected driving manners. Its pleasant-looking and passenger-friendly cabin help the Sportage appear more expensive than its price would suggest. However, not everyone will appreciate its outward appearance or want to spend extra for the sprightly turbocharged model. Still, Kia manages to make every version fun to drive thanks to sharp responses and a solid feel. Although the 2020 Sportage has below-average fuel economy and cargo space, it's one of the more engaging and sophisticated compact SUVs out there.
What's New for 2020?
For 2020, Kia tweaks the Sportage's already bold styling and adds more standard and optional features. While the exterior revisions aren't transformative, they give the Sportage a fresher and more assertive look than the previous year. Along with a new S trim level and different wheel designs, the interior receives some new content. Upgraded leatherette seats and wireless charging are now optional. Likewise, every cabin features an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability as well as an updated steering wheel and air-vent surrounds. The Sportage also adds more driver assists that include automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, driver-attention warning, pedestrian detection, and lane-keeping assist.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- LX: $25,035
- S: $27,035
- EX: $28,235
- SX Turbo: $34,535
While we love the speedy turbocharged model, its price diminishes the value since the less powerful engine is still enjoyable to drive. The bottom lines also increase between $1500–1700 when you add all-wheel drive. We think the Sportage EX combines the best features and exterior details. Every version includes a dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, passive entry, and a power-operated liftgate. The only significant option is the $4500 EX Technology package that adds adaptive cruise control, leather surfaces, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, an upgraded audio system, a panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, and more. We'd recommend the kit for those who want a more luxurious experience and advise value-minded buyers to skip it.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Compact crossovers don't get much quicker than the turbocharged Sportage. We clocked a front-drive 2017 Sportage at a speedy 6.7 seconds to 60 mph, which ranks among the quickest in this class. A trusty six-speed automatic transmission and a sedate yet effective non-turbo four-cylinder on base models fill the rest of the powertrain platter. There's not a night-and-day difference in driving enjoyment between either model, although the aggressive SX Turbo engine can turn mundane milk runs into rollicking rides. Both have above-average handling characteristics.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Sportage lives near the bottom of the fuel-sipping hierarchy, well below what the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V achieve. The non-turbo Sportage earns 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, according to the EPA. Those numbers drop by 1 and 4 mpg, respectively, when all-wheel drive is added. The turbo model has EPA estimates of 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, which drop to 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with all-wheel drive. The front-drive SX Turbo we tested returned 27 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route—missing its EPA figure by 1 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Drawing interior comparison to Audi products—as some of our editors have done—shows that Kia is doing something right. The Sportage cabin is well executed and filled with a pleasing mix of quality materials and nifty, functional features. We found the Sportage’s cabin to be a spacious environment—for passengers, not cargo. The rear-seat accommodations didn’t evoke any complaints other than the low placement of the seat cushion. Cargo space is limited for the class and storage room for smaller items is lacking, but the Sportage is not the worst in its class. Its carry-on-luggage capacity with the rear seats folded and its adjustable load floor save it from being banished to the doghouse.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every model is fitted with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The system is easy to use thanks to physical knobs and buttons, but its menus have small icons and the design doesn't look as sophisticated as the rest of the interior. Desirable options are wireless charging and built-in navigation.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
While the 2020 Sportage earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it wasn't named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Kia offers an assortment of driver-assistance technologies, but the base model lacks such equipment. Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia offers a significantly better warranty plan than its competitors, but it's still not the best across the board. Rivals such as the Chevrolet Equinox and the Toyota RAV4 include complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance