The 2018 Kia Sportage crossover SUV has two engine options, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The LX and EX trims are powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine with an output of 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The top-of-the-line SX Turbo trim is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with an output of 240 hp (237 hp for the all-wheel drive model) and 260 lb-ft of torque. All trims have the option of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The turbo powerplant of the Sportage SX was quick off the line and had no problems when overtaking in the highway. It took 6.7 seconds to reach 60 mph, which performed better than its comparably sized rivals. The front-wheel drive model, however, spun its front wheels and needed attention to manage torque steer. The handling was nimble and it went through the turn with stability. Grip was sufficient and understeer was well-controlled despite being front-wheel drive. The steering was responsive and it changed direction immediately. Turning the wheel wasn’t too heavy not too light but the feedback from the pavement felt disengaged. The brakes performed well and there was no oversensitivity when using them. It took 117 feet to stop from 60 mph, which was above average in its class. There was an initial softness to the pedal but it firmed up quickly and controlling the brakes felt intuitive.
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The base LX trim comes standard with automatic headlights, selectable driving modes, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and an infotainment system with a 5-inch touchscreen, a CD player, and a six-speaker sound system. The Popular package adds a windshield wiper de-icer, automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver seat with power-adjustable lumbar support, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a bigger 7-inch touchscreen and Kia’s eServices remote and emergency services. The Technology package adds power-folding side mirrors and several advanced safety and driver aids. The EX trim comes standard with all the features of the preceding trim and also includes foglights, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, a USB port, and several advanced safety and driver aids. The Premium package adds a heated steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Sport Appearance package adds LED foglights and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The Technology package adds a remote liftgate, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated rear seats (for all-wheel drive models), navigation, a bigger 8-inch touchscreen, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and additional advanced safety and driver aids. The range-topping SX Turbo trim comes with all the bells and whistles and includes a performance-oriented suspension, xenon headlights, LED foglights, an electronic parking brake, and a bigger driver information display.
The 2018 Sportage was tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and it earned four stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and four stars in the rollover test. Overall, it earned a five-star safety from the NHTSA. It was also tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and it scored “Good” in all the crashworthiness tests, “Superior” for front crash prevention, and “Average” for headlights. Overall, it earned the 2018 Top Safety Pick recommendation from the IIHS. The only advanced safety and driver aid that comes standard with the base trim is a rearview camera. Additional features are added through the Technology package and they include forward collision warning, automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and front and rear parking sensors.
The 2018 Sportage has a length of 176.4 inches, a width of 73 inches, a height of 64.8 inches, and a wheelbase of 105.1 inches. While the rest of the Sportage looks like a typical modern-day crossover SUV, the new front fascia may look peculiar to some. The hood slopes lower than the headlights and front fenders, as if it were inspired by the head of a reptile. The base LX trim comes with 17-inch wheels but options of up to 19-inch wheels are only available with the EX and SX Turbo trims. Roof rails are available for the base trim but the sunroof only becomes available starting with the EX trim.
The combination of the low ground clearance and the tall doorway made it effortless to enter the cabin. The doors also opened wide to reveal two rows of seats that offered spacious accommodation. For most passengers, it was easy to fit two in the front and three in the back. The seats provided all-day comfort despite being on the firmer side of cushioning. They were contoured to the body and had good upper and lower body support. The leather upholstery of the interior was of decent quality and the knobs and switches used had a matte finish. While not being sold as a premium vehicle, the interior didn’t look tacky and overcompensating. The ride quality was stable and compliant despite the sporty tendencies of its handling. On smooth surfaces it was steady and road imperfections weren’t jarring to the ride. But there were jittery reactions from the bigger 19-inch wheels when driving over sharp bumps. Road noise and wind noise were attenuated well and this just contributed to a relaxed vibe during driving especially on close to perfect roads.
There is 30.7 cu-ft of cargo behind the second row and folding the seats down opens up 60.1 cu-ft of space available for cargo.