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STYLING | 8 out of 10
The new model’s proportions are as dramatic as the outgoing model’s are dull, and few curves are found on its sheetmetal….a beefy, high-tech appearance.
Car and Driver
It's downright fashionable in a vehicle class that usually isn't.
The interior is about on par with the rest of the segment. Plasticy but fine…the Kia's plastics are at least the non-greasy kind.
The interior is attractive, and the layout is uncluttered. Controls are easy to see and reach.
Expanses of black plastic may look better than they feel, but the overall layout is efficient and pleasant enough, with a large navigation screen front and center, and dual-zone climate-control switches just below.
Crossovers are getting better looking. We'll brook no arguments: we'll just point to the old Kia Sportage and this current generation as an example of how quickly design themes can change, and for the better.
Today's Sportage is one of the coolest in its class, a hot little mashup of taut hatchback lines and the slightly elevated stance of an SUV. There's some tipped-back attitude on loan from the Soul five-door, too, and Kia's family grille cooking on the front end, headlights tucked in seamlessly along its sides. Kia's design team has picked a few details to highlight and left the rest on the drawing-room table, forgoing the clunky overdrawn-ness of something like a Jeep Compass for a cleaner take. The front end is particularly crisp, with a sort of elegant simplicity in the way the headlights and spoiler play with the reverse-bowtie blacked-out grille. The light sculpturing down its flanks makes the Sportage’s straight lines look even better in relief, too.
The cockpit of the 2012 Sportage relates to the sheetmetal in a way most cars and utes gloss over. Big gauges are framed by a rectangular dash that's toned down significantly versus the one in the Tucson, though if you look hard, you can see how the two share some common hard points. It's workmanlike in the best way possible, with a substantial look and an authentic feel that's handsome at the same time.
It's a trendsetter: the Sportage bridges the gap between sporty hatchback and mini-SUV better than almost anything in its class.