2024 Kia Sportage: Sleek, Safe and Techy, But Where’s the Fun?

Published on February 23, 2024 in Test Drives by Dominic Boucher

Completely redesigned a year ago, the Kia Sportage is virtually unchanged for 2024, offering the same futuristic look and modern cabin.

Similar to the Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4, the Sportage is available in gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants in order to appeal to various drivers. It also boasts one of the best warranties in the auto industry—5 years or 100,000 km, whichever comes first—making it even more attractive.

There’s plenty of selection in the lineup, our X-Line Limited tester sitting at the very top. This model stands out as the most adventurous thanks to more rugged-looking bumpers, raised roof rails and unique 19-inch wheels. The interior features Sage Green leatherette upholstery.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Modern Environment

The Kia Sportage is both spacious and ergonomically arranged inside. The front seats are comfortable enough but could offer more lateral support, and there’s generous room for the legs and shoulders. On a practical note, the large liftgate opening combined with the flush-mounted cargo floor make it easy to load big and cumbersome items.  

Planning a long trip with the family? The aforementioned roof rails can handle up to 220 lbs of cargo. Maximum towing capacity is 1,653 lbs with an unbraked trailer or 2,500 lbs with a braked trailer.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

The cockpit features a curved digital interface consisting of two 12.3-inch displays—one for the instruments and the other for the infotainment system—with crisp and colourful graphics. The main menu on the touchscreen may have a bit too many functions and gadgets, though.

While most of the controls on the steering wheel and centre console are user-friendly, the same cannot be said about the touch-based control panel for climate and audio. You can’t have both simultaneously, meaning you need to switch from one to the other all the time. We did get used to it after a while, but it’s definitely something Kia designers should reconsider.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Capable AWD

The comfort-focused Kia Sportage is not particularly inspiring to drive as handling takes a back seat, here. Speaking of which, the nicely padded seats and soft suspension do a great job of masking road imperfections. On the other hand, steering feels light and overly assisted, yet precise enough.

Under the hood is a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 187 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. Those are decent numbers for most daily commutes, but they don’t make the Sportage a spirited performer in high-speed situations. We sure prefer the eight-speed automatic transmission to the boring CVTs found in some competitors. That being said, it seemed to have trouble finding the right gears when driving at 80 km/h or faster. An easy remedy, of course, is to use the manual mode via the paddle shifters.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Gas-powered models can be had with either FWD or AWD. A major snowstorm during our week with the Sportage provided a great opportunity to test Kia’s AWD system, which proved fairly capable. Granted, the Continental VikingContact 7 winter tires deserve some credit, as well. It also helps that AWD-equipped models boast increased ground clearance (210 mm vs. 181 mm), giving you more freedom to tackle snow-covered roads, driveways and parking lots.

As for fuel consumption, we ended up with a combined score of 9 L/100 km—in low-to-mild temperatures, mind you. If you’d like a more efficient option, the Sportage Hybrid and Sportage PHEV achieve 6.2 L/100 km and 6.7 L/100 km, respectively.

Safety Rules

The 2024 Kia Sportage is based on the same N3 chassis (third generation) as the larger Sorento. Compared with the previous one, stiffness and ride quality are both improved, while the interior is quieter thanks to additional sound-deadening material.

Photo: Dominic Boucher

When it comes to safety, Kia isn’t kidding around, offering numerous active and passive features. Of course, you could say the same thing about most rivals, but just to drive the point home, the Sportage was the recipient of a Top Safety Pick+ award from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) last year. For 2024, engineers even added reinforcements to the B-pillars and doors.

At the end of the day, the Kia Sportage may not be exciting to drive, but it’s still a tremendously sensible vehicle with plenty of selection and value, not to mention cutting-edge tech and exceptional safety. The Sportage is no longer the brand’s best-selling product in Canada (the smaller Seltos now is), and most other compact SUVs also attract more customers (including the related Hyundai Tucson), but you shouldn’t sleep on it. Trust us. 

Watch: Kia Sportage X-Line Limited Review

Test drive report
Test model 2024 Kia Sportage
Trim level X-Line Limited
Price range $28,795 – $48,995
Price as tested 41 595 $
Warranty (basic) 5 years/100,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 10,4 / 8,5 / 9,0 L/100km
Options Gravity Grey paint colour ($250), Sage Green leatherette (included)
Competitive models Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Hornet, Ford Bronco Sport, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Mazda CX-5, Mazda CX-50, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan
Strong points
  • Modern and nicely appointed cabin
  • Good levels of comfort
  • Capable AWD system
  • Excellent warranty
Weak points
  • Steering feels light and overly assisted
  • Autobox has trouble finding the right gear at times
  • Generally uninspiring to drive
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 3.5/5 The Sportage achieves a combined 9.0 L/100 km, par for the segment.
Comfort 4.0/5 The seats are comfortable even though lateral support is somewhat lacking. There’s generous space front and rear.
Performance 3.0/5 The Sportage is powerful enough for typical daily driving but could use more oomph during passing manoeuvres.
Infotainment 4.0/5 The displays are crisp and attractive. The main menu has lots of icons that you can easily sort through after a while.
Driving 3.0/5 If you’re looking for an uneventful drive from A to B, the Sportage has you covered.
Overall 3.5/5 A rational purchase, Kia’s compact SUV is aimed at drivers who value practicality, comfort, technology and safety.
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