2024 Kia Sportage SX+ 2.0 FWD review

The Kia Sportage is the Korean brand’s best-selling vehicle in Australia, so it makes sense it has the widest range of any vehicle in its lineup.

With the recent arrival of the hybrid, the Sportage is now available with a choice of four powertrains, manual or automatic transmissions, front- or all-wheel drive, and four different trim levels.

Not only is that a lot of variety for a Kia, that’s a lot of variety for a mid-sized SUV, period.

We’ve put to the test an SX+ with the 2.0-litre – the penultimate trim level with the lowliest engine.

WATCH: Paul’s video review of the Sportage SX Hybrid

Our tester is finished in optional Dawning Red metallic, a rich, handsome maroon. It suits the Sportage well.

We know the front end polarises; I personally find it to be refreshingly distinctive, but I’m sure Kia will want to graft on an EV9-like face come mid-life update time.

How does the Kia Sportage compare?

View a detailed breakdown of the Kia Sportage against similarly sized vehicles.

Kia Sportage cutout image

Kia

Sportage

How much does the Kia Sportage cost?

In terms of price, the SX+ sits somewhere towards the middle of the Sportage range.

2024 Kia Sportage pricing

  • 2024 Kia Sportage S manual: $32,995
  • 2024 Kia Sportage S auto: $34,995
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX manual: $35,550
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX auto: $37,550
  • 2024 Kia Sportage S diesel: $40,395
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX+ auto: $42,050
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX diesel: $42,950
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX+ 1.6T: $44,050
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX Hybrid: $45,950
  • 2024 Kia Sportage SX+ diesel: $47,450
  • 2024 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T: $49,920
  • 2024 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel: $52,920
  • 2024 Kia Sportage GT-Line Hybrid: $55,420

Prices exclude on-road costs

Based on a Sydney postcode, the Sportage SX+ 2.0 auto has a drive-away price of $46,476. Metallic paint adds $520.

The Sportage faces off with a number of SUVs. To see how it shapes up, use our comparison tool.

What is the Kia Sportage like on the inside?

Step into the Sportage, and you’re greeted with a modern dashboard design with the centre stack helpfully angled towards the driver.

There’s a thin strip of touch-capacitive switchgear, which can be toggled between controlling climate and audio functions, but there are at least a pair of knobs here. I did find myself accidentally brushing against the touch-capacitive switches, though.

The doors feel solid, and there’s soft-touch trim used on the front door tops.

There’s no soft-touch trim on the sides of the centre console like in a Nissan X-Trail or Mazda CX-5, and both the console and the lower half of the dash are finished in hard, grainy black plastic. This is offset, however, by the genuinely attractive dash top, which has a leather-wrapped look to it.

A strip of metal-look trim bisects the dash, which is genuinely attractive with an interesting texture.

Then there are the seats, finished in artificial leather but have a quilted look to them. They’re classy and comfortable, and those in the front row are heated.

The T-bar shifter for the transmission is almost retro, if more satisfying to use than the flagship GT-Line’s rotary dial, while the steering wheel is large but tactile with straightforward switchgear.

It’s an attractively presented interior overall, arguably one of the most visually appealing in the segment, but some touches are inelegant.

The weird quasi-digital instrument cluster is legible but awkward looking to my eyes, with the simple central screen clashing with the outré purple instrument displays on either side.

The mass of grey plastic button blanks sticks out like a sore thumb on the gloss black centre console. It’s especially disappointing given this trim level is one rung down from the top.

Storage is adequate. There are bottle holders in the doors plus a fairly deep centre console bin, though there’s no storage shelf under the centre console as you’ll find in rivals like the GWM Haval H6.

The cupholders in the console can be retracted, resulting in a fairly spacious storage nook.

You still need to plug in your phone to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay as the Sportage has yet to move to Kia’s latest-generation infotainment, and it’s a USB-A connection though there’s a USB-C port next to it.

For some reason, Android Auto doesn’t take up the full screen.

While it doesn’t yet have wireless smartphone mirroring, the Sportage’s infotainment system is easy to use and boasts features like a voice memo app and Quiet Mode, which will only play music through the front speakers if the kids in the back are having a nap.

The kids have plenty of space back there, and so do adults. The Sportage has one of the longest wheelbases in this segment, and that has helped give it one spacious back seat with ample headroom and leg room.

There are a pair of USB-C outlets in the front seatbacks, plus air vents, map pockets and a fold-down centre armrest.

If you’re fitting child seats, there are the expected three top-tether and two ISOFIX anchor points.

In the boot there’s a 12V outlet, plus handy levers to drop the rear seats. They don’t fold entirely flat, but there’s still an ample 1829L of storage space with them dropped, or 543L with them up.

Refreshingly in this age of tyre mobility kits and space-saver spares, the Sportage has a full-sized alloy spare.

What’s under the bonnet?

You can’t get a less powerful engine in the Sportage range than the 2.0-litre, while you also can’t get this engine in a higher level of specification.

Model Kia Sportage SX+ 2.0
Engine 2.0L naturally aspirated 4cyl petrol
Power 115kW (6200rpm)
Torque 192Nm (4500rpm)
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Weight 1538kg (tare)
Fuel economy (claim) 8.1L/100km
Fuel economy (observed) 10.5L/100km (suburban, city, highway loop)
10.7L/100km (over the course of a week)
Fuel type 91 RON
Fuel tank size 54L

The Sportage faces off with a number of SUVs. To see how it shapes up, use our comparison tool.

How does the Kia Sportage drive?

The Kia Sportage is great to drive as a diesel or a hybrid. With petrol power it’s not as pleasant, especially in 2.0-litre guise.

The optional turbo 1.6-litre, with its seven-speed dual-clutch auto, feels a little rough around the edges. At least it has power, though. The base 2.0-litre feels gutless, even in a segment where naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines are commonplace.

It’s sluggish off the line, and I ended up hitting the redline more than once just trying to hustle this thing around – and that was with one person on board. Go to accelerate on the move and you can feel the car shuffle back a couple of gears to summon up the grunt.

In inner-city driving at lower speeds it’s acceptable – and potentially smoother than the more expensive 1.6T – but anywhere else, the car’s poor power-to-weight ratio is evident.

It moans like a moody teenager under heavy acceleration, and there’s an odd whine from the engine at times, too.

What’s especially frustrating is North American Sportages get a more powerful 2.5-litre four that would undoubtedly be better to drive than this gruff mill, while the smaller Seltos’ 2.0-litre is mated with a CVT that makes it feel much more responsive.

You can get the 2.0-litre Sportage with a six-speed manual in S and SX grades, which is highly unusual for a mid-sized SUV in 2024. I would put money on those options disappearing promptly.

While I haven’t driven a manual Sportage, I’m sure – as with the Stonic 1.4L – that the three-pedal option makes the vehicle more pleasant to drive. But who actually wants a manual mid-sized SUV in 2024? Precious few people, which explains why manual mid-sized SUVs are almost extinct.

Having driven the related Hyundai Tucson with this 2.0-litre engine before, I knew exactly what the Sportage was going to feel like, performance-wise – and it entirely met those expectations.

With my test car, however, I did encounter an odd surprise: disappointing ride quality. Having driven other members of the Sportage family before and finding the locally tuned ride quite comfortable, I was struck by how fidgety this test car was over any road that wasn’t perfectly smooth.

While we didn’t experience any harsh impacts, it felt quite unsettled at times, heaving and pitching a bit. We have flagged this with Kia Australia, as it seems out of character for a Sportage – or indeed any Kia.

As for the rest of the dynamic package, the Sportage stacks up well. Handling is secure, with well-controlled body roll; the steering feels nicely weighted albeit not especially feelsome.

Apart from the laboured sounds of the engine when you push it, the Sportage is fairly quiet. Road and wind noise levels are competitive for the segment.

Your opinion may differ, but I’m generally fine with a lane centring aid that’s quite assertive and capable as Kia’s Lane Following Assist is.

Lane-keep assist systems, in contrast, are best kept subtle, only intervening when truly necessary. Kia’s lane-keep assist system, however, makes its presence felt a touch too often for my taste.

Notably, the purple graphics within the instrument cluster will flash red if the forward collision warning is activated.

What do you get?

There are four trim levels in the Sportage range, with the SX+ being second from the top.

Sportage S highlights:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (wireless)
  • DAB digital radio
  • 6-speaker audio
  • ‘Basic’ digital instrument cluster
  • 4.2-inch TFT display
  • LED headlights (reflector-type)
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Partial-LED tail lights
  • Full-size spare wheel
  • Leather-accented steering wheel, PVC shifter
  • AEB with pedestrian, cyclist, junction assist
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Lane Follow Assist
  • Lane keep assist
  • Intelligent speed limit assist
  • Adaptive cruise control**
  • Electric park brake**
  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Front-centre airbag

**not available for manual variants

Sportage SX adds:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels (machine face)
  • Shift-by-wire gear selector (hybrid only)
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Satellite navigation
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (wired)
  • Power driver’s lumbar adjustment
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Dual-zone climate control with auto de-fog
  • Auto up/down windows (front)
  • Leather-wrapped shifter
  • Remote-folding second-row seats
  • Gloss black interior trim
  • DAB radio
  • Front parking sensors

Sportage SX+ adds:

  • 19-inch alloy wheels (machine face)
  • 8-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio
  • Faux leather seat trim
  • Heated front seats
  • LED front fog lights
  • Power driver’s seat with power lumbar
  • Electric tailgate
  • Electrochromic rear-view mirror
  • Keyless entry with push-button start
  • Steering-mounted paddle shifters
  • Rear privacy glass
  • 2x USB-C chargers in front seat backs

Is the Kia Sportage safe?

The Kia Sportage wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on tests by Euro NCAP in July 2022.

It scored 87 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 66 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 74 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety equipment includes:

  • 7 airbags incl. front-centre
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
    • Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
    • Junction assist
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Safe Exit Warning
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Intelligent speed limit assist
  • Lane Follow Assist (centring)
  • Lane keep assist
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Reversing camera

Sportage SX adds:

  • Front parking sensors

Sportage GT-Line adds:

  • AEB in reverse
  • Blind Spot View Monitor
  • Surround-view cameras

How much does the Kia Sportage cost to run?

The Sportage is backed by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Kia offers seven years of capped-price servicing. These services are capped at $323, $513, $391, $705, $363, $664 and $385, respectively.

While the Kia boasts a longer warranty, the related Hyundai Tucson 2.0L is cheaper to service. It costs $2736 over a seven-year period, $608 cheaper than the Sportage.

CarExpert’s Take on the Kia Sportage

This SX+ 2.0L isn’t the sweet spot in the Sportage range.

We doubt most mid-sized SUV buyers are looking for something racy, but even amid the sedate vehicles in this segment, the Sportage’s base powertrain is underwhelming. In SX+ guise this is the most expensive Sportage to have this uninspiring engine under the bonnet.

Quite simply, the 2.0-litre engine is slow, thrashy and thirsty. It’s the weakest powertrain of the range. The powertrain lets down what is otherwise a compelling package. The Sportage is among the roomiest mid-sized SUVs – it’s distinctively styled, boasts an attractive interior, and packs a long warranty.

While the 1.6T isn’t perfect, for an extra $2000 it’s a no-brainer as it brings all-wheel drive and better claimed fuel economy as a bonus. If you’re not diesel-averse, the SX 2.0D at $900 more is another worthy option; better yet is the SX Hybrid, which costs $1900 more.

You’ll miss out on some luxury items with the diesel and hybrid SX models, but you’ll get a vehicle that’s much, much more satisfying to drive.

Click the images for the full gallery

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