Kia Sportage is still a winning choice

by Petrol Mum
Kia Sportage SX+ diesel with kangaroo

The first time I drove a Kia Sportage I was impressed, so I shouldn’t have been surprised with how much I liked this multi-award winning redesigned 2023 Sportage. The medium-sized SUV segment is teeming with model options, but it would take a lot from them to outcompete the Kia Sportage.   

I spent a week in the distinctively styled Sportage SX+ Diesel, which is the second highest trim spec available with added goodies like a harmon/kardon sound system, heated front seats, and smart keyless entry with keyless start. So, no need to rummage through your handbag to find the key to unlock the car and start it!

The in-line 4-cylinder, 2.0 litre diesel engine is available across all the current Sportage model variants and produces 137kW of power and 416Nm of torque. I found that the Sportage SX+ Diesel was pleasant to drive and live with, but I could hear the diesel engine in the cabin. There are four on-road drive modes available, Eco, Normal, Sport and Smart, and I spent my week in Normal mode, because the Sportage is a great SUV, but not a performance SUV. The official combined fuel consumption is 6.3L/100km and I used 8.2L/100km.

There are also three Terrain modes on the all-wheel drive diesel variants for travelling across Snow, Mud or Sand to explore just a little further off the well-trodden paths. If you are going to use your Sportage in Terrain mode you will be happy to know that there is a full-size spare tyre located under the boot floor.  

The quilted artificial leather seats are comfortable, but don’t have the pleasant aroma that authentic leather offers. The driver seat has 8-way power adjustment for recline, forward/back, and seat height front and rear, with 2-way lumbar support, but no memory positions. The passenger seat only gets manual adjustment for recline and forward/back.

The two centre console cup holders can hold a larger drink bottle, which is handy because the drink bottle storage in the door cubbies is only suitable for slim bottles. The downside of this cup holder design is there are no rubber mats for your cup to sit on so cleaning the area would be more difficult. I didn’t like the gloss black on the centre console or on the door controls because it attracts dust and easily gets finger-marks on it.

At the front of the centre console there is a hard plastic cubby for your phone with one 12V outlet, one USB-C port and one USB-A port, which is the one you need to connect your phone to the wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. I found that the Android Auto connected easily with the Kia’s infotainment system.

I liked the seamless look of the 12.3″ Infotainment screen and the digital driver’s display and it also makes it very easy to wipe dust the dust off. I also really like how Kia have incorporated the dual display screen under the infotainment screen that allows you to switch between the climate controls and main infotainment selections. It means you don’t have to access the infotainment menu to change your climate settings.

The leather steering wheel has a nice design, but I did not feel the need to use the plastic wheel-mounted paddle shifters to change gears in the 8-speed automatic transmission, see previous comment above about the Sportage not being a performance SUV. Kia still uses a masculine looking silhouette on their voice control button and the voice control only works when Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are connected.

The rear seats have ample head and leg room for two adults to comfortably sit in them and there are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points. But the Sportage would most likely only fit two car seats across the rear seat due to the overall width available. The centre seat can be folded down as an arm rest and has two rigid cup holders at the front of it. The drink bottle storage cubbies in the rear doors are only suitable for smaller rigid drink bottles.

Kia have cleverly positioned the rear USB-C ports on the side of each front seat, so when you hang a device on the hook behind the rear headrests the cord is not dangling down and a potential trip hazard. Rear passengers also get two central air vents with individual direction and on/off controls.

The Sportage has rear floor mats and a low transmission tunnel, which doesn’t have a mat over it. Also, something I have never mentioned before on the vehicles I have reviewed, but that does annoy me is the location of the front seat belt lower anchor point. When these are located on the floor children have a bad habit of putting their foot on them and this tightens your seatbelt and distracts you. It is much better when the seat belt is completely enclosed in the B-pillar design. I will try to remember to mention this in my future car reviews as well.

The Sportage SX+ has a powered tailgate with open/close from the button on the tailgate, key fob and in the cabin. The boot is a good size and fitted my weekly shop and should be able to cope with a pram and a smaller shop. There are four plastic tie down points, two hooks, one light and a 12V outlet in the boot space. If extra storage space is needed the rear seats have a 40:60 split fold function with the manual release for this located in the boot.

The new Kia Sportage has an updated ANCAP safety rating of 5-stars (2022), which is based on testing of Kia Sportage variants that are supplied to the European market. Dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags are standard. A centre airbag which provides added protection to front seat occupants in side impact crashes is also standard. The Adult Protection Score is 33.43 points out of 38 (87%) and the Child Protection Score is 42.73 points out of 49 (87%).

The Kia Sportage SX+ comes standard with a long list of active driver safety features including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – Car, Pedestrian, Cyclist & Junction Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist with Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance, and Adaptive Cruise Control. The standard rear-view camera has front and rear parking sensors and for convenience you get auto lights and auto wipers.

Kia Sportage SX+ diesel rear view camera

ANCAP tests of the AEB (Car-to-Car) system showed ADEQUATE and GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in most test scenarios. The AEB Junction Assist system, although standard on Australian and New Zealand variants, was not fitted to the test vehicle, and hence AEB Junction Assist tests were not conducted. Overall, effectiveness of the AEB (Car-to-Car) system performance was rated as MARGINAL. Tests of the Lane Support System functionality showed GOOD performance in lane keep assist tests, with the system intervening in some of the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios with overall performance classified as GOOD with a score of 74%.

All new Kias come with a 7-Year Unlimited Kilometre Warranty and one year of complimentary Roadside Assist. Owners can renew their Roadside Assistance package yearly, for up to eight years, by simply returning their vehicle to an Authorised Kia Dealer for its annual scheduled services. Membership will remain valid for one year following your scheduled service, and will be renewed if an Authorised Kia Dealer completes the vehicle’s next scheduled serviced within one year. For the Sportage Diesel, service intervals are once a year or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and the total cost for the first seven services is capped at $3,624.

Kia Sportage SX+ diesel front quarter

The Kia Sportage SX+ Diesel is deservedly an award-winning medium-sized SUV thanks to its bold exterior design and the well-appointed interior. The Kia Sportage SX+ starts at $47,250 excluding on-road costs and as tested with the optional Gravity Grey premium paint ($520) this Sportage was $47,770 plus on-roads. You can Build & Order a new Kia Sportage on-line or visit your preferred Kia dealer for more information.

The dash design and infotainment controlsThe gloss black trim
Location of USB-C ports for rear passengersStill has a masculine silhouette on voice control button
You get a full-size spare tyreNo mat over the low transmission tunnel

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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