Kia has infused this SUV with a fresh dose of style, and it's gaining ground in one of the most competitive sectors of the car market. It also has a solid mix of features at an affordable price, and in government crash tests it's rated five stars in both frontal and side-impact protection.
The 2015 Sportage LX is powered by a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, while the SX gets a punchy turbocharged 2.0-liter. The drivetrains deliver satisfying acceleration, and the well-isolated ride is quite good. This SUV handles like a much bigger model on highway long-hauls, and in city driving it's agile, responsive and easy to maneuver. The braking system is excellent, too; in Edmunds testing a front-drive Sportage EX came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is shorter than the average for this class of vehicle.
There's a lot to like in the interior, too, with its bright, large infotainment touchscreen and well-integrated climate controls. In addition to the standard auxiliary and USB inputs, you get Bluetooth streaming and SiriusXM capability with the UVO telematics system, which is available for smartphone-enabled apps such as emergency roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, geo-fencing and speed tracking (to help parents set limits for teen drivers).
Although a bit short on passenger and cargo room compared to some rivals, this small SUV still has plenty of space for adults, and the back seats fold flat for more storage capacity. Kia adds a net and tie-down hooks to the rear cargo area, and SLi and higher trims include a full-sized spare underneath the floor.