The 2019 Kia Sportage attempts to stand out in the extremely competitive compact-crossover class with quirky exterior styling and engaging driving dynamics. Accordingly, this unusual-looking compact ute can be loaded with a host of desirable infotainment and active-safety features. Add to that athletic handling and a speedy turbocharged version that ups the fun factor. Too bad it has mediocre fuel economy and cargo space. Still, the Sportage's nicely crafted interior is an upscale environment, and Kia offers one of the best warranty plans available. A freshened Sportage with minor styling changes and additional standard features goes on sale soon as a 2020 model.
What's New for 2019?
The 2019 Sportage is essentially a carryover model this year, with no visual or mechanical updates. While it has the same standard equipment and available features, Kia decided to drop the LX Technology package on base models. This means the LX trim is no longer available with any active-safety features, which is peculiar considering that package was just added for 2018.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- LX: $24,745
- EX: $27,595
- SX Turbo: $34,095
The mid-level EX trim combines an affordable price with plenty of fancy features. The EX is only a couple of thousand dollars more than the base LX, but it includes extra tech and upgraded interior appointments. While the SX Turbo is quicker and better equipped, those upgrades come with poorer fuel economy and aren't worth the $6500 premium. We stand behind the better value provided by the EX's standard four-cylinder and front-wheel drive, which are more than adequate for most driving scenarios. Those who want the bad-weather confidence of all-wheel drive can add it to any Sportage for $1500.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Competent driving manners, quick turbocharged option.
Dislikes: Unrefined base engine, costly turbo upgrade.
Compact crossovers don't get much quicker than the turbocharged Sportage; we clocked an all-wheel-drive model at a speedy 6.9 seconds to 60 mph. 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
Kia retuned the engines from the last-generation Sportage to improve fuel economy and succeeded—but just barely. The SX Turbo returned 27 mpg on our highway fuel-economy test, which confirmed what the EPA figures also show: The Sportage lives near the bottom of the fuel-sipping hierarchy, well below what the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V achieve.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Impeccable build quality and materials, easy to operate infotainment system, useful adjustable load floor.
Dislikes: Roomy for people but not cargo, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not standard.
Drawing interior comparisons to an Audi, as some of our editors have done, shows that Kia is doing something right. The Sportage cabin is well executed and filled with a mix of quality materials and nifty, functional features. Its optional infotainment system—called UVO—is attractive and functional. It's not the best in its class, but it is user friendly and offers a host of features either standard or as options. Cargo space is cramped 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.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Sportage scored exceptionally well during crash testing, which should encourage those who prioritize safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named it a Top Safety Pick for 2018. Although the compact crossover has an assortment of driver-assistance features such as automatic high-beams and rear automated emergency braking, the base model cannot be equipped with any such technologies. Key safety features include:
- Available automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning
- Available blind-spot monitor
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 Chevy Equinox and the Toyota RAV4 include complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance