2016 Kia Sportage KX-3 2.0 CRDi 134 bhp AWD long-term test and review – Update 2

Update 2: January 31st – April 20th (2017)

Miles on clock: 4,250 Miles covered this update: 1,712 | Average (UK) mpg: Town: 35/37  mpg | Motorway: 38 – 46 mpg | Mixed routes: 35 – 40 mpg

Read update 1 here!

The Kia Sportage continues to impress! To get the point, if you’re looking for a mid-sized SUV and don’t test-drive the Sportage alongside other rivals, you’d be daft. I mentioned this in the previous update, but I’m re-emphasizing it because it’s important; if you’ve not owned/driven a Kia before because all your friends drive ‘posh’ German/British/Swedish SUVs, then you’re letting pride get in the way of common sense. This is a great vehicle.

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Right-ho, onto the good stuff. The Sportage KX-3 AWD has a rather sweet, torquey two litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine and a 6-speed automatic which I disliked at first but have now come to grow quite fond of. Yes, it does feel quite old-school being a traditional-type torque converter unit, but there’s really nothing wrong with it and it does the job decently well.

I’ve found Kia have done a great job on the ride comfort and handling too, and even though I’ve done a large variety of journeys with it covering smooth A-roads, winding, pot-holed B-roads, longer motorway slogs as well as plenty of city driving, no matter the trip the Sportage seems very adept at keeping myself and its passengers comfortable and happy throughout.

Passengers using the rear outer side seats absolutely love the wide, deep-padded upholstery and they sing praises of how far back the seats can be angled at, plus the fact they benefit from (rather brilliantly) two-stage heated seats to keep them even more snug and cosy on the colder days we’ve had. Lots of leg, elbow and headroom too? Tick, tick, tick. Complaints? Zero.

Driving the Sportage day-to-day, I’m finding the biggest problem I’m having is that I’ll have to give this thing back at some point, because up to now I’m well and truly contented living with the Kia.

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Okay, I do have some issues, and while they are quite honestly minor in comparison to the overall experience, they need going over anyway. First off, it’s rather hard to judge where the bonnet ends, and without front sensors or a camera, I usually struggle to tell how far from the car in front I am when parking. I’ve tested/driven many vehicles over the years, so it’s not as if this is simply me not being used to driving something different. I’ve still not got used to this, and personally I’d spec front sensors if it were my car.

Almost every front passenger (tall and short) I’ve had complains of the same thing; their seat sits too low. They always go to grab the lifting handle and are always surprised to find that, nope, it doesn’t have one. I find this very strange indeed, there’s not even an option to spec it on the KX-3 and below models. If you want it, you’ll have to pay extra to get the ‘4’/’KX-4′ and above. Strange one, that.

The boot is rather weird too, as while there’s plenty of room, it’s not very practical thanks to a lack of storage holders to stop your smaller bits ‘n’ bobs flying about, and supermarket bag hangers that are both too near the entrance of the boot meaning when you close the lid you have to be extra careful, and secondly because the hangers are extremely small and fiddly to use, and they will only hold one bag each side, and remember, there are no cubby-holes or storage areas to stop the rest of the bags sliding about – certainly no good thing when you’ve got three or four bags of food.

Oh, and while we’re on the matter of the boot, should you want to drop the rear seats to create extra room, most manufacturers provide pull-handles in the boot to do this quickly and easily, the Sportage’s are simply standard ones on the top of the seats. If your car is in a tight parking space next to other cars, that means leaning right over and stretching to drop them, and if the bumper is dirty, your clothes will then be too.

Kia, if you’re reading this before you next update the Sportage, take a leaf out of the Subaru Levorg’s book on how to make the ultimate practical boot.

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As I’d done a lot of the same-old, same-old driving, I wanted to go somewhere a bit more challenging. After all, this particular model has all-wheel-drive, a respectable amount of ground clearance (for light off-roading) plus controls for a locking centre differential and downhill decent should the going get tougher.

Time to blow away the cobwebs of the urban spread and view some of the beautiful North Yorkshire scenery, breathe in fresh, forest air. Oh, and rag the Sportage down some heavily rutted farm tracks, through deep sections of standing water and across access roads usually used by logging machinery. Well, the Sportage can’t have it easy all the time, right.

While the tyres fitted to the 19 inch wheels follow the modern trend of being fairly low-profile, I was surprised to find that down the rough forest roads/tracks there was still much less vibration and harshness coming through the chassis than I expected, and it’s yet more proof of how well Kia has done setting the suspension up on the Sportage.

The all-wheel-drive system fires torque to whichever wheel needs it so smoothly and effectively that you barely even notice it, and driving over slippery surfaces becomes about as easy as driving on a paved road. Under hard acceleration on rocky routes, the computer must be doing a zillion calculations per second to keep the Sportage in a straight line, and while for the first ten feet or so the Kia was ‘crabbing’ while finding its feet, the stability control and AWD quickly sorts things out and you’re off.

Even hard acceleration around the sharp bends of a farm track – which consisted of mud, water and gravel – didn’t upset the car, with the electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and stability control (ESC) clearly doing their jobs well, even under those unusually difficult conditions.

A decent ground clearance of 172mm (6.8″) means you can do some light/soft off-roading, and it’s easily adequate for what owners will use an AWD version of the Sportage for. Certainly, the locking centre differential and downhill descent control would be great for those who tow a caravan. Oh, and if you do tow a trailer or caravan, you’ll be happy to know that the Sportage also comes standard with trailer stability assist (TSA).

Overall then, I’m finding the Kia Sportage KX-3 AWD to be a great all-rounder, and a car which continues to be highly satisfying to drive on a daily basis.

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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! 

Model (as tested)  2016 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, Patrick Davies

2 responses to “2016 Kia Sportage KX-3 2.0 CRDi 134 bhp AWD long-term test and review – Update 2”

  1. Muttley

    The single pictures open larger but the galleries remain at their fixed size. In your earlier review formats, the single pictures would open to become a large gallery.

    Your photography is excellent and the opportunity to see the bigger images would be appreciated if this is an easy fix going forward?

    Not a criticism, just a suggestion 🙂

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