Our Week of Adventure {KIA Sportage Review}

by Tyler, editor and reviewer

After having so much fun trying out the KIA Optima last fall, we jumped at the chance to try out the KIA Sportage CUV {compact utility vehicle} earlier this month through STI – The Drive Experience Company.  Since we don’t have an SUV or CUV in our family, we were all very excited to try out something new and exciting and see what we’ve been missing out on.  And, as it turns out, what we’ve been missing is adventure. 

Kia Adventure Mobile
There’s something about a fancy new car that makes you look for reasons to drive, and we found plenty of places to drive our loaner Sportage.  From short road trips to all-day adventures, the KIA Sportage was the perfect solution for hauling all of us – and our gear – while still having enough pep to make driving fun. 

Since the Sportage is the smaller of the two SUVs that KIA offers {hence the CUV title}, we were originally concerned that space would be an issue with all our gear, carseats, and strollers we need to haul around.  But, we were very surprised of the roomy-ness of the interior, especially the back seat.  While the back storage wasn’t huge, it still fit everything that we normally have in our trunk and more, while still having the option of packing the back seat, if necessary. 

While I’m not anti-SUV by any means, I have been driving compact cars almost exclusively for 8 years now and I was initially worried that driving an SUV – even if it was on the smaller side – would be a tradeoff in terms of power and handling.  But, what I found was that although the Sportage has a raised drive height, it still has a very car-like handling that I love.

Kia Sportage Collage
Something that really surprised me about the driving experience was how much you can fine tune the feel and performance of the Sportage.  By turning the Eco-Mode on or off and either using the automatic or manual settings on the transmission the Sportage really felt like different cars at different times, making it perfect for whatever terrain we were on.

Here’s what we learned from our week of adventure:

Daddy-O Likes

  • Leg room – Being a tall guy, I dread having to sit in back seats, but the Sportage passes my personal “can I sit behind myself?” test with flying colors.  Which means not only am I comfortable in any seat, I don’t have to feel bad for anyone behind me, either.
  • Room for both car seats – Not only do our two car seats fit in the back seat, but we could also drop down the center armrest between them which gave the kids access to the two cup holders within {a treat they both agree has become a necessity.}  
  • The quick turbo engine – Our Sportage came with the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine which has 260HP and 269 ft. lbs. of torque.  Put the transmission into manual mode and this thing felt like a little race car, able to carve corners and merge onto the freeway with ease.  
  • Eco-Mode – Switching to Eco-Mode garnered an indicated 4-5mpg gain during some of our longer freeway jaunts while at the same time making the Sportage feel like a comfy Sunday cruiser as it seemed to take the edge off of the throttle inputs.  This was the perfect attitude for cruising the back roads, enjoying the scenery while sipping fuel.
  • Cooling seats – I have a tendency to hop in the car with my jacket still on while everyone else has only a T-shirt.  The option to pump cool air through my seat with the heat on for everyone else may be the single most meaningful advance in family harmony ever.  I can only imagine how great it feels once it really gets hot out.
  • Steering wheel controls – The ability to control your phone, radio volume and station, and cruise control is very helpful when you jump into a new car.  And apparently something you get used to quickly, as I found myself searching for those same non-existent buttons in my own car a week later. 
  • Super-bright lights – That pretty much sums it up, but for those of you looking for more description, we are talking about curb to curb daylight leading the way ahead of you all night long.  These things are awesome. 
  • Back up camera – This is another feature that I could really get used to.  Since I prefer to back into parking spots whenever possible, it was nice knowing I wasn’t going to crash someone else’s car into someone else’s car {AKA the pinnacle of automotive embarrassment}.  This was especially handy when we stuffed the back luggage area to the roof, blocking out the rear window completely, and I still felt confident with just my side mirrors and the backup cam. 
  • Smart lane change blinker – No driving like grandpa because your blinker automatically turns off after 3 blinks when changing lanes.  That’s right, simply tap the blinker lever gently, in either direction, and you get three blinks from your lights instead of one. 
  • Bluetooth integration – An amazingly simple pairing process gets you phone calls and audio streaming directly from your phone, whether it is in your pocket or on the center console.  On top off that, the audio quality on the other end is so good that when my wife called me from the car I honestly had no idea I was on the car’s speakerphone until the kiddos chimed in from the back seat {which of course they loved as well.}

Interior Kia Sportage
Mama Likes

  • Heated and cooled seats – Heated seats are great for colder weather because they warm you up quick without the stuffy heat you sometimes get from blasting the car’s heater, but they are also good for lower back pain I sometimes get while driving, and for cruising around at night with the sunroof open.  But, since the warmer weather is approaching, I also love that they added cooling seats as well, which would be amazing through the summer months. 
  • Dual climate control – He’s hot, I’m cold.  But, we both can ride together without bundling or burning up with dual climate control.
  • Keyless entry and ignition – Hands down, the coolest new car feature, ever.  As long as you have the Sportage key on you {in your pocket, purse, jacket, etc} the car interior lights turn on as soon as you get close to the car, and then you can unlock the doors just by pushing the small buttons on the exterior door handles.  Once inside the car, simply put your foot on the brake, push the start button and you’re off, never having to dig for your keywhile wrangling your kids and all the various stuff that comes along with them.  I literally never took it out of my purse while I was test driving, which is pretty awesome. 
  • Dashboard control screen – As much as I love having buttons and knobs for certain things, I also really like a good sized touch screen that can add even more functionality to your journey, especially when you’re out exploring and you *may* need a little assistance with directions, finding coffee, or good tunes along the way.   
  • Drives small – Coming from a compact sedan, the worry was that it would take an initial adjustment period, for me especially, but what I found was that it didn’t feel like we were driving a huge vehicle at all, just a taller version of what we are used to.  
  • Trunk under tray storage – While the main area of the trunk is pretty good sized, it does taper in at the top to allow for the sporty proportions of the Sportage, which means you are a bit limited on space.  A smart way they added storage is a nice divided compartment underneath the floor of the trunk above the spare tire.  For us, this was a great place to store our first aid and roadside emergency supplies, change of clothes or other small items we carry but don’t get at frequently.  Plus, it’s a great place to hide valuables when you’re parking the car for any amount of time.

Extra storage compartment
Kiddos Like

  • Panoramic sun roof – Can’t beat a sunroof for the parents AND one for the kiddos.  Whether it was sunny or sprinkling, having almost your entire roof letting in light makes it feel so open and roomy that they don’t even mind that their sunroof doesn’t open.
  • Good visibility – What fun is driving around if you can’t see anything?  Both kiddos loved that being up higher afforded them a much better advantage point for sight-seeing along our journeys.
  • Cup holders for them  – Whether they were holding sippy cups, toys or treats, the cup holders are always the first thing the kiddos take ownership of when test driving, and the thing they miss the most when we return to the reality of our compact sedan.   
  • Folding mirrors – While very practical and useful feature when parking in cramped spots, this also is apparently the coolest feature ever to a 4 year old.

Kia Sleeping Pic
As you can imagine, the whole family was a little upset to hand back the keys to the KIA Sportage and say goodbye to the red CUV we had all grown to love.  It’s now become the standard by which SUVs are evaluated, and has made our car a far less appealing road trip mobile.  While we save up money for our own Sportage someday, we have our week of adventure to remember forever.

Interested in driving experiences?  Check out the STI Facebook page to keep up on all their events near you. Safety First

TylerA big thank you to STI The Drive Experience Company for letting us borrow the KIA Sportage for the week to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions remain 100% ours.

7 thoughts on “Our Week of Adventure {KIA Sportage Review}”

  1. I’m more for “bulkier” vehicles that have enough space and then some. This looks like a super smooth ride. It has chic elements that only add to the effect: I like the keyless entry-pretty cool.

  2. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!


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