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- Distinctive styling
- Great ride and handling
- Optional turbo power
- Quality feel inside
- Stellar infotainment
- Lousy fuel economy
- Styling not for everyone
- So-so visibility
- Limited configurability
There’s a lot to like about the sharp-handling, attractive 2018 Kia Sportage, even if its fuel economy doesn’t impress.
The 2018 Kia Sportage is a compact crossover with, as its name implies, a decidedly sporty outlook on life. The five-seat Sportage isn’t necessarily a standout in any way, but its just-right combination of handling verve, interior refinement, and zesty powertrains earns it 7.0 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2018 Sportage is available in LX, EX, and SX Turbo trim levels, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. This year, it’s largely unchanged after a redesign last year. Minor updates include wider availability of important safety tech such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors as well as a few minor options shuffled around.
With the Sportage, Kia offers consumers a choice of 4-cylinder engines: a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated unit rated at 181 horsepower and, in the SX Turbo, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that checks in with 240 hp (237 hp with all-wheel drive). Either way, the Sportage sends its power to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission and both engines are designed to run on regular unleaded fuel. Sportage LX and EX trims prioritize a quiet, comfortable ride above all else, while SX Turbos have their own rear dampers and revised steering tuning designed to stiffen things up.
The Sportage’s swoopy styling makes it stand out, even if we think there’s a little too much overt, sci-fi kitschiness to it. Bold, yes. Overwrought, perhaps. Curiously, all-wheel drive models have a slightly different front end with more ground clearance—an odd touch considering the Sportage is certainly not an off-roader.
We’re more enamored with the Sportage’s classy interior that combines soft-touch plastics with good ergonomics from a dash that’s canted slightly toward the driver.
All trims are well-equipped for the money, as is Kia tradition. This year, we welcome the addition of automatic emergency braking as an option on LX and EXs; it’s still standard on the SX Turbo. LXs feature a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard and offer a 7.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as an option. EXs come standard with that larger screen and can be further upgraded with the 8.0-inch unit with baked-in navigation that’s standard on SX Turbos. In other words, plenty of choice—but the CarPlay and Android Auto systems are worth the coin in our eyes.
That’s one of the few decisions you’ll need to make other than selecting a color when it comes to the 2018 Sportage. SX Turbos are fully equipped from the get-go, and there are just a couple of option packages available to dress up an EX or LX.
Despite those assets, however, the 2018 Kia Sportage’s fuel economy comes up short against rivals—especially with all-wheel drive.