2013 Kia Sportage – The Capable Low-priced Trekker

2013 Kia Sportage (4xFall)

Although it's not the most fuel-efficient nor the most luxurious of the crossovers available, the Kia Sportage is making a name for itself as a low-cost option for those who want capability, but need to get it on a budget. The 2013 Sportage is the top-selling crossover from Korea and features an engine option that really surprises.

The manufacturer says

Presenting the 2013 Kia Sportage. It delivers key performance benefits of a crossover, including agile handling, a smooth ride, and excellent fuel efficiency. It also offers available advanced features that range from an air-cooled driver's seat to UVO – an in-vehicle infotainment system that lets you manage your music conveniently and enjoy hands-free use of your cell phone. Like all Kia models, the Sportage comes with an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile warranty program.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Kia
  • Year, Model: 2013
  • Class, Type: Crossover
  • Propulsion system: Gasoline
  • Base Price: $19,000
  • MSRP as tested: $28,400
  • Availability:
  • Imminent.

Overview

Today, the Korean imports (Hyundai and Kia) are the Japan of the 1980s. Everyone loves to make fun of them. With their proliferation on the market, however, as before, they are becoming some of the most popular vehicles on the road. It doesn't hurt that Kia has put a lot of effort into adding stand-out style to their models. From the distinctive kidney-shaped grille to the sporty wheel stance and low, mean roofline, the Sportage looks much more stylistic and aggressive than its counterparts.

Under the hood, three engine options are available in the 2013 Sportage. All three are four-cylinder affairs starting at 170 horsepower, then 176 hp, both in a 2.4-liter inline-four (I-4) box. The real shining star, though, is the 2.0-liter I-4 pushing a massive 260 hp. Coupled with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, these engines put out plenty of umph to get the Sportage going. The Sportage is capable of up to 32 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in town.

Our test model had the 2.0-liter with an auto trans and delivered a fun, strong ride for such a seemingly small machine. Inside, the small exterior of the Sportage gives way to a roomy inside. The large doors make entry and egress easy for people of any physical ability, but could mean confinement in tight parking spaces. The wheels being pushed out to the corners mean the Sportage handles very well and both on- and off-road, it was a capable little goer.

The higher MPG is had with the front wheel drive model, of course, but even then, in inclement weather, that should prove plenty for most drivers to get around. If you fancy hitting the trails once in a while, though, the AWD option is keen to do so. The Sportage isn't made for heavy offroading or serious mountain climbing, but it did just fine on dirt roads and simple mountain tracks. The Sportage will easily get you to that prime fishing hole, camping spot, or weekend getaway under most normal circumstances.

On the highway, noise is present, but not oppressive – a big improvement over previous years' models – and the handling and drive are smooth and simple. The Sportage is very nimble in town and will easily maneuver even the tightest of parking lots. One caveat is rear visibility, which is limited because of the low roofline and the slim windows that creates. This is becoming a norm in this segment, though, as more aggressive windscreens and lower roofs mean better aerodynamics while the high beltline affords better crash resistance.

So while the 2013 Kia Sportage may not be the most fuel efficient option out there, it's definitely the lowest priced for the package.

What we like

Very nimble ride, good handling - all of which are built right into the Sportage. Kia put a lot of effort into both the exterior design and the sporty handling this crossover delivers. A big plus.

Very affordable, but not "cheap" is the best way to describe most of Kia's models. While hoity outlets might think of the amenities as "cheap" in the Sportage, for regular people who don't purcahse or often drive high-end luxury cars, the Sportage comes nicely equipped and doesn't feel cheap at all.

What we don't

Low visibility hampers maneuverability in this crossover. It's extremely nimble, but if the driver can't see where he or she is going, it quickly turns into a land yacht. If you can, spring for the rear view camera.

The best engine is also the most expensive which might sound like complaining, since this is always the case, but Kia really should just dump the underpowered 170hp option and make the 2.0-liter powerbox more affordable.

Conclusions

Overall, an excellent choice and very comfortable vehicle for the price point. This would be a good choice for small families (1 child), singles with friends, or as a second vehicle for "getting out there." Even with the tiny price tag, the Sportage looks good in anyone's driveway.

Test Period Length and Limitations
2013 model was driven for about an hour in both on-road and offroad conditions. Testing took place at about 10,000 feet in Colorado during the fall season. Test was provided by Kia at a press event involving several competing vehicles.

This site follows the emergence, application and development of transportation innovation. Reference to manufacturers, makes and models, and other automotive-related businesses are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by FutureCars.com.