Nowadays, the compact SUV is king. There once was a time when the compact SUV design was relatively unique, competing against hulking full-sized SUVs that dominated the field. Today, the compact SUV is a dime a dozen, gracing the lineup of almost every manufacturer in the industry. As a result, standing out in this competitive field is easier said than done. While some vehicles employ flashy gimmicks and polarizing design choices, others manage to rise above the rest by simply offering a high-quality driving experience. Kia is one of the few manufacturers to have been in the compact SUV market for quite some time now. They have provided a wide variety of Kia models that prioritize utility in their lineup, and have satisfied the utilitarian sporty driver for years now. One of the more popular vehicles in their lineup is the Kia Sportage, and the 2019 version enters a field of competitors, in the hopes of still dominating this space.
A Break of Style
Previous models of the Kia Sportage were known for their boxy ruggedness. Take for instance the 2001 Kia Sportage, a spunky little SUV that wore its spare tire like a badge of honor in the rear, and operated as a charming blend between fuel efficiency and utility in terms of design. To match up the 2001 Kia Sportage against its 2019 counterpart is to compare to strikingly different vehicles. The 2019 Kia Sportage is a far departure from its roots. In an attempt to compete with other ‘space-ship’ looking compact SUVs, the 2019 Kia Sportage adopts a styling that fights to be unique.
While the outward design may turn off some drivers, it’s difficult to disregard the fact that the 2019 Kia Sportage still manages to create a look you won’t find among competitor models. From the rounded front grill to the bug-like headlights, the 2019 Kia Sportage even stands out from other Kia models in the lineup, offering a styling that many drivers will learn to love.
A Compact Engine for a Compact Car
Compact SUVs aren’t necessarily known for their capabilities in terms of horsepower and torque. Due to their reduced size, they tend to prioritize compact turbo-powered engines that provide enough robust engine power to get the job done. At the same time, the design of the compact SUV’s engine is intended to provide an added boost to fuel efficiency. This way, drivers can spend less time filling up and more time taking to the road. The 2019 Kia Sportage falls in line with this trend by offering an SX Turbo model comes equipped with a 2.0-liter I4 Turbocharged engine which we’ll get to later. The other three models come standard with a compact 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Surprisingly enough, this small engine is quite mighty offering up 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft worth of torque. That said, the oomph behind the Kia Sportage’s engine comes at a sacrifice to fuel efficiency. The latest Kia Sportage barely breaks away from its 2001 counterpart offering a rather abysmal 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. While this may have seemed reasonable in days past, the 2019 Kia Sportage is expected to compete with models that offer hybrid drivetrains and offer fuel economy comparable to compact sedans.
Although, if fuel efficiency isn’t your thing, the 2019 Kia Sportage engine beneath the hood can be bumped up to a 2.0-liter, Turbocharged Inline 4-cylinder engine. This engine contributes 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft worth of torque, making for a far more powerful ride. The Sportage may never take to the pavement like a top-of-the-line performance car; the turbo-powered engine offers an experience that breaks beyond the sluggish handling of what an ordinary utility car might offer.
The 2019 Kia Sportage starts at $23,990 MSRP and brings four trim options to the table the LX (base model), S, EX, and SX-Turbo. As can be expected with a compact SUV, the 2019 Kia Sportage can be fitted with AWD making for a vehicle that is ready for next-to-anything. While the Kia Sportage is far from being an off-road champ like the 2019 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, it still holds its own. But don’t worry, the Sportage is a perfect vehicle for some light excursions thanks to its considerable amount of ground clearance.
The Utility Factor
SUV stands for a sport utility vehicle, and the 2019 Kia Sportage offers a fair amount in terms of the utility factor. While it’ll never be able to compete with utility toppers like the Jeep Wrangler or the Ford Explorer, it certainly holds its own in its class. Interior spacing is pretty fleshed out offering 30.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up, and 60.1 cubic feet with the seats folded down. With all of this extra room, you’ll have no trouble hauling luggage as well as a few of your travel buddies.
Unfortunately, the Kia Sportage is never going to be a master towing machine. Topping out at 1,650 lbs, the Kia Sportage won’t be hauling any serious cargo, but for many compact SUV drivers, that’s hardly an issue. And if you’re looking for a genuinely tow-capable vehicle, a full-size pickup or SUV might be the better option.
The Tech in the Kia Sportage
The modern compact SUV and the modern car for that matter can practically drive itself. Futuristic safety technology is here, and the modern vehicle can stop on its own in some scenarios. The infotainment technology that makes listening to music and accessing your favorite smartphone apps seamless.
In terms of technology, the 2019 Kia Sportage breaks even. While it may not be tooled with the best of the best cutting edge equipment, it still brings plenty to the table offering significant peace of mind behind the wheel. Base models of the Kia Sportage are fairly basic including power features, air conditioning, cruise control, and 17-inch wheels. While the Kia Sportage does offer more significant technology, you’ll have to pay a little more cash upfront to get it. Topping out the Kia Sportage can be tooled with features like an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, automatic climate control, heated front seats, a Harman Kardon audio system, and a power liftgate.
While the 2019 Kia Sportage doesn’t entirely drive itself, you can expect a worthwhile and competitive driving experience. This is putting it in the middle of the pack when it comes to technology.
Is the 2019 Kia Sportage Worth the Buy?
Utility vehicles have changed a lot over the years. While full-sized SUVs still offer plenty of appeals, the market has become flooded with compact SUVs. They provide a seamless blend between the fuel efficiency of a compact vehicle and the utility of a larger vehicle. So, how does the 2019 Kia Sportage stack up in this crowded field of smaller SUVs? Well, the Kia Sportage is a middle of the road compact SUV that brings plenty of power and utility to the table. While it lacks in technology and may not offer the level of fuel economy that we’d prefer, the Kia Sportage is a worthwhile vehicle that is bound to satisfy SUV lovers everywhere. Although this is just our opinion, the best way to get a good idea of what this SUV is like is to experience it first hand and take one out for a test run.