2016/17 Kia Sportage KX-3 2.0 CRDi 134 bhp AWD long-term test and review – Update 3

Update 2: April 21st – June 30th (2017)

Total mileage on clock: 6,172 | Total miles covered on test period: 5,776 | Average (UK) mpg: Town: 35/37  mpg | Motorway: 38 – 46 mpg | Mixed routes: 35 – 40 mpg

Read update 1 here

Read update 2 here

In all the time I’ve had the Sportage KX-3 on test, there’s one main thing that continues to impress on me at the end of this test; quality. The whole ‘Kia is a budget car company’ still sticks in some motorists minds, but I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that this attitude has had a dramatic change. When I first started testing and reviewing them in 2012 (with the 3rd-gen Sportage), Peter Schreyer’s brilliant designs had taken hold and the entire model range was about to become attractive, stylish and interesting – something that couldn’t really be said of previous models.

Back then, and up until the past few years I would say that probably ninety-five percent of people who I talked to about Kias were either very dismissive about the brand, stating outright they thought or heard they were ‘cheap’ and ‘rubbish’, or simply barely knew anything about them.

Yes, it’s taken Kia a long time (in industry terms) to throw off that heavy cloak of hearsay and scepticism – a lot like Skoda – but I believe drivers have finally turned around and noticed how good Kia’s cars are.

And that brings me back to this fourth generation Sportage long-term test car. Yes, some of the plastics trim still looks and feels a little budget-y, but the fact is that after over almost 6,000 miles of testing it hasn’t developed a single rattle or squeak. I actually enjoy being in the car, I like travelling in it as either a driver or passenger, because it’s a genuinely well-built and nicely-styled vehicle both inside and out.

Sometimes it’s easy to praise things and miss out the smaller negatives that may bug you slightly at first but then get maddening after a while (which is why testing cars long-term is a good idea), but the Sportage had only a couple of these types of points; the lack of practicality about the boot, and the fact you couldn’t height-adjust the front passenger seat, which sits low.

Aside from these, the praise I show for the Sportage is something that comes from months living with the car and thousands of miles of testing, and I see very little I don’t like. With every car I have on long-term loan, I always dwell on the same question; ‘if I had the money, would I buy this car, and could I see myself living with it?’ With this 2016/17 Kia Sportage, the answer is a definitive ‘absolutely‘.

Why? Well, if I’m honest, over the time period (and beyond) that I had the Sportage I was pretty ill. The last thing I needed was any extra stress or discomfort in life. The automatic version of the Sportage provides such a restful, easy, stressless drive and ride plus a pleasant, comfortable cabin that it took virtually most of the effort out of driving, and for any journey made my illness that bit easier to deal with. But this isn’t some sentimental thing, I would feel like that either way – unwell or not – as it’s hard not to like it for those points.

Watch my video review below

Personally, I would opt for the higher-spec KX-4 – simply because I like it mainly for the extra comfort of ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and power passenger seat. My advice is that unless you really want a Smart Park Assist (self-park type) system and electric tailgate, avoid the higher-spec KX-5 as that’s virtually the only difference and you’re paying a few grand extra.

I’d would also choose the more powerful 2.0 CRDi 182 horsepower engine with the same six-speed auto I had in my test car, but again that’s personal opinion as I’d prefer more power and torque. If you’re going to be towing regularly, this would be the version I’d recommend.

As part of the final few weeks of testing, I took the Sportage on a greenlane off-road track. Nothing really rough or overly challenging, but it would be the type of stuff you’d expect to drive over to perhaps reach a more outback campsite, farmhouse or somewhere off the beaten path to park for hiking, cycling, snowboarding etc.

With 172mm (6.8 inches) minimum of ground clearance, that’s adequate for what I’d expect the Sportage to used for by the average owner, and of course, the all-wheel-drive system is highly useful if you’re going to using it for the reasons above, but as with any car a set of all-season or on/off-road tyres makes a world of difference to grip performance in mud and snow.

Back to the greenlane, and what I noticed was just how well the suspension copes over rougher ground, as even with its 19″ wheels it absorbs the ruts and bumps impressively well, flowing over them much better than I expected it to, and taking almost any jarring movement out of the picture. Kia has done a fantastic job in that area, and as a side point, the road and wind noise is also supremely well-dampened. See my driving videos for more on those points.

SUVs and crossovers of all sizes are now available from the majority of manufacturers, and it’s less a competition and more an all-out brawl between them as they vie for your money. Size-wise and in a similar price bracket you’re looking at the Ford EcoSport, Vauxhall Mokka X, Peugeot 2008 SUV, Fiat 500X Off-road Look, SEAT Ateca, Skoda Karoq and Mazda CX-3.

At the similar-size-but-higher-priced end of the market, you’ve got the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Jaguar E-Pace, Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q3, Lexus NX, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

So, there are many to choose from but Kia are well and truly holding their own with the Sportage. Instead of aiming at the budget end of the market, they have their sights set firmly on the higher echelons, and while Kia’s pricing may be competitive of the former, the quality, styling and specification level Kia offers may – and very likely, does – worry the manufacturers in the latter list, and rightfully so.

Thinking of buying a 4th generation Kia Sportage, have questions about it or simply want to share thoughts on your own? Leave a comment using the form below! 

Score

Exterior looks & design  8
Cabin space  8
Seating comfort  9
Cabin practicality 6.5
 Equipment level (as tested)  8
Ride quality  8.5
Handling  8
Power & Torque (as tested)  7
Safety tech  8
 Fuel economy  7
 NVH levels*  9
Overall score  8.0 / 10 

*NVH = Noise, Vibration, Harshness

Specs

Model (as tested)  2016/17 Kia Sportage KX-3 2.0 CRDi AWD
Standard spec includes  Exterior: 19″ alloy wheels,  rear tinted windows, panoramic sunroof with slide function (Dec. ’16 model onwards), LED daytime running lights | Interior: Black leather upholstery, heated front & rear outer seats, manual adjusting front seats, driver seat power lumbar, rear reclining seats, dual auto air conditioning with Ioniser | Tech: Cruise control with speed limiter, auto-dimming rear mirror, electric folding, adjustable & heated door mirrors with LED indicators, 8-speaker JBL premium sound system, 8″ touchscreen with satellite navigation, DAB, Bluetooth, reverse camera, Android Auto & Apple CarPlay (Auto & CarPlay Dec. ’16 model> onwards), rear parking sensors, 4.2″ LCD TFT driver display.  See full spec here
Safety  ABS, EBD, ESC, DBC, trailer stability assist, ESS, Lane Keep Assist, High Beam Assist, Hill Assist, TPMS, Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive, front active headrests, ISOFIX child seat top tethers & anchor fixings | Airbags: front, side, curtain with roll-over sensor.  Euro NCAP safety rating of 5/5 stars.
Options fitted  Alchemy Green premium paint: £575.00
Off-road information  Ground clearance: 172 mm (6.8″) min. | Approach angle: 16.7˚ | Departure angle: 23.9˚ | Ramp-over angle: 18.6˚
Price (inc. options)   As tested inc options: Sportage KX-3 2.0 CRDi 134hp auto AWD: £28,890. Updated Dec. 2016> model: £29,095 (no added options)
Engine  Diesel, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valves, turbocharged
Power, Torque  Power: 134 bhp @ 2,750 – 4,000 rpm | Torque: 275 lb ft (373Nm) @ 1,500 – 2,500 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive | 6-speed torque-convertor automatic
Towing capacity, boot space Towing: Unbraked: 750 kgs (1,653 lbs), Braked: 1,900 kgs (4,188 lbs) | Boot capacity (litres): behind rear seats: 491, Rear seats folded: 1,480
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 114 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 11.6 seconds
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 40.4, Extra urban: 54.3, Combined: 47.9 | CO2: 154 g/km
Weight (kerb)  Min.: 1,690 kgs (3,725 lbs) | Max. 1,859 kgs (4,098)
Websites  Kia UK, Kia USA, Kia global (choose country)

Words: Chris Davies | Photography/film: Chris Davies

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