Since 1993, the Kia Sportage has been a constant in the automaker’s ever-changing line-up and now in its fifth generation, the Sportage is not only better than ever but also one of the best medium-sized SUVs. Over there.
When we usually review, we have vehicles for a week and try to test them in as many situations as possible and across different road surfaces. While we’ve locked a review of the 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 2.0 Diesel AWD, however, we’ve decided to launch a longer and more comprehensive test to see what it’s actually capable of.
Our voyage will cover the two-week voyage on the west coast of Australia which took us 5,300 km / 3,293 miles (despite what the map below says). As a way to discover how far Koreans have come with their SUV, it was a surefire way to do it.
A very different sport
While the latest generation of Sportage US buyers have no alternative to diesel, Australian buyers can order a 2.0-liter petrol four-cylinder, a 1.6-liter turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged car. Diesel four-cylinder, the next one we tested.
The engine is rated at 137 kW (186 hp) at 4,000 rpm and 416 Nm (306 lb-ft) of torque between 2,000 and 2,750 rpm, making it the most powerful engine on offer, with a base 2.0-liter 115 kW. Surpasses (156 hp) and 192 Nm (141 lb-ft) as well as the 1.6-liter turbo 132 kW (179 hp) and 265 Nm (195 lb-ft). What’s more, the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel is also the most fuel efficient, with the only available transmission at 7.7 L / 100 km (30.5 US mpg) combined fuel consumption, an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
The new Sportage is based on the same Hyundai-Kia N3 platform as the latest Hyundai Tucson. In Australia, the engine and transmission options are the same for both the Sportage and the Tucson but the Sportage is slightly larger, measuring 4,660 mm (183 in) in length compared to Tucson’s 4,630 mm (182 in). Both share the same 2,755mm (108.4-inch) wheelbase.
On our ride with the Sportage GT-Line 2.0 diesel we drove along the coast from Perth to Exmouth before heading to Carizini National Park and back to Perth. Sportage has proven to be the perfect partner for such a journey.
An SUV that stands out from the crowd
Going to the new Sportage for the first time, I was not overwhelmed by the design, although it grew on me. Kia has abandoned the philosophy of safe and conservative design that it has followed in the past and it is no more obvious than the new Sportage. Not only does it look like no other Kia model but it looks like nothing else on the street, this boomerang-shaped LED creates a very dramatic statement with daytime running lights and huge black grills.
The dramatic lines and curves running along the door, as well as the bold and eye-catching shape of the rear window, are similar stories when viewed from the side. Kear designers also went to town on the rear end of the SUV with the new LED taillights.
A cabin that everyone can like
No matter how you feel about the exterior design of the Sportage, it’s hard to deny that Kia knocked it out of the park along with the interior.
While the design of Tucson’s cabin seems a little inspired and simple, the interior of the Sportage is nothing more. Our flagship GT-Line variant comes as standard with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, both nicely included in a curved panel that runs seamlessly across the dashboard and is a premium, like the Germans.
The spaces around the screens are dramatically shaped air vents and a wooden veneer located directly below that extends from the dashboard to the front door panel. The Sportage GT-Line has a dedicated touchscreen that, like the EV6, has both climate control and important media functions. For example, a quick press on the screen can adjust the media settings from HVAC settings. This is a clear way to avoid splitting the controls into two panels and thanks to the responsiveness of the slim screen, it is very easy to use.
The transmission tunnel is where you will find a rotating shifter for gears, as well as buttons for heated and ventilated seats and various driving modes. It is beautifully decorated, although the excess of piano black can annoy some buyers. Leather-mounted seats with synthetic suede lashings add a premium feel, as do eight-way power-adjustable drivers and front passenger seats.
Other key features found in the 2022 Sportage GT-Line 2.0 diesel include alloy sports paddles, paddle shifters, adjustable ambient mood lighting, wireless phone charging and a panoramic sunroof.
As everyone has been told, the interior of the flagship Sportage includes the best of the mid-size SUV market. And on the street? It excel there too.
Rarely can sport be destabilized
As our journey began and it rained on the Kear Windshield, we were immediately impressed by the visibility offered by the SUV. Despite having a steeply racked windshield and a seemingly compact side window, the Sportage certainly looks more like a premium offer than its price tag.
Thanks to a local tuning program designed to make Sportage perfectly suited to the Australian surface, random highways and country roads are an absolute breeze. The SUV seems to be made along the thicker part of the tarmac and it does a great job of wetting the bumps. It comes despite the GT-line being standard with 19-inch wheels.
The engine and transmission also fit well with the Sportage. Much like the larger 2.2-liter turbo-diesel in the Sorrento, the 2.0-liter unit found here is eager and responsive, so much so that you’ll have a hard time knowing that if it’s not a diesel you’re a little too happy with the throttle. The response of the line is good and the eight-speed automatically performs well. However, we would love to see the Kier dual-clutch enter the Sportage.
There are several driving modes available, including Eco, Normal, Smart and Sport. They all say what they do on the tin and throughout our journey, we initially used Echo and Smart modes. The latter of these options is particularly good for use around the city because it serves as a good middle ground in the normal where the transmission can be a bit slow to respond where the sport is often a little more abrupt in its response, making it particularly difficult to find. Smoothly off the line. Our average time with Sportage was 6.7 l / 100 km (35.1 US mpg), although it was strongly oblique towards highway driving.
Read more: Funky Looking 2022 Kia Sportage arrives in Australia in long physical form
Of course, it is not surprising that Sportage performs well on the streets. What we were particularly interested in discovering was how it would handle some even harder surfaces, such as driving on sand and with a corrugated gravel road with a speed limit of 100 km / h (62 mph).
Sportage even remotely ill?
Our first opportunity to sample Sportage’s off-roading prowess came in the small town of Coral Bay, known for its snorkeling. To get to the most popular snorkeling area we had to navigate through a tight, twisted off-road zone consisting of soft sand, deep rot and several serious methods and exit angles. Kia performed perfectly and by the time we got to the beach, it must have turned quite a few heads. After all, it was the only one of more than 30 vehicles on the beach that was not a Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Hilux or Nissan Navara.
It is also worth noting that the Sportage GT-Line 2.0 diesel is not equipped with the most off-road focused tires out there. In fact, it is standard with Nexen Rodian GTX 235/55 Turing tires but it has performed very well with the pressure dropping to around 15 PSI. Of course, we had to drive on the sand faster than the others around us, for fear that we would get stuck if we drove too slow. The only area that proved too much for Sportage was a steep climb over a sand dune but that obstacle was also very difficult for the Land Cruiser Prado in front of us. Then there is nothing to be ashamed of.
We also took in the sport through some of Australia’s infamous bulldozers. This soft, powdery dust is found all over the outback and deserts of Australia and is made up of very fine pieces of sand. When you pass it, especially at high speeds, it blows huge clouds that can stay suspended in the air for a few minutes. It wasn’t too much for the Sportage to handle, though, and when it was completely covered outside the SUV, the cabin was significantly dust-free and the Kia was always easy to control. It did a good job of even going through the corrugated gravel road, although admittedly it wouldn’t be a big SUV with more advanced shocks and springs.
It’s hard not to be influenced by the new Sportage. It feels premium like every bit larger Sorrento and feels just like home when removed from the Tarmac. In our opinion, mid-size SUV buyers should take this seriously.