Tuesday, January 18, 2022
News 2020 Kia Sportage Review: Good, But The Competition’s Great

2020 Kia Sportage Review: Good, But The Competition’s Great

The 2020 Kia Sportage is well-equipped for the sustained war in the compact SUV segment

  • Base price in Canada for the 2020 Kia Sportage is $25,795.

  • The Sportage remains a good value.

  • Overall initial quality is commendable.

I’ll admit to being guilty of overlooking the Kia Sportage, and consequently, the Hyundai Tucson. The reason for doing so is that it does battle in the most competitive of segments that happens to offer some of the best all-around vehicles money can buy. And I don’t feel like the Kia Sportage fits the description.

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

I’m never asked what the 5th or 6th best vehicle in a category is. My answer for the best options, among compact SUVs, typically goes like this: Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and end there. Mind you, this list leaves out the Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi RVR, and Outlander, and the Koreans. And frankly, if the first three don’t fit your needs and budget, then you’re probably shopping in the wrong segment.

Having said that, however, the fact is that the Kia Sportage is still a better than decent choice. Much of my hesitation with Kia and Hyundai come from a number of poor personal experiences with the products over the last five to seven years. But what about the 2020 Kia Sportage?

Value leader no more

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

There was a time not long ago when Kia and Hyundai owned the term “value-packed”. Although the association is still somewhat valid, the Japanese brands have become wiser and finally introduced once-forbidden features in lower trims. The base FWD LX Sportage, in Canada, starts at $25,795 and is loaded with an 8-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 17-inch wheels, and much more.

As there are now nine trims for the Sportage, let’s skip straight to my $37,995 EX Tech tester. The list of amenities is enormous but consider that, for the price, you get cooled front and heated rear seats, navigation, a power passenger seat, power hatch, UVO, and connected car services, and more. Only a few years ago, getting many of these features in the Toyota or Mazda products meant that one needed to spend many thousands more but this is no longer the case.

The average

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2020 Kia Sportage now slides into the average for nearly everything, and this also serves to explain where it stands on the “list”. Styling-wise, it’s attractive no doubt however if it does stand out, it will be for its still unusual front fascia. Indoors, the Sportage is also on par with the competition, and in some cases above. The materials, and usual fit and finish are typically excellent. The ergonomics are good though, especially for people “my age” who still enjoy a nice selection of hard buttons.

The afforded interior space is generous, especially for passengers. The rear bench and its reclining seatback are great for comfort and setting up baby seats. Upfront, the perches are more than adequately supportive and in these heatwaves, we did love their cooling feature. The trunk does not seem as large as its 798L (30 cu.ft.) rating suggests although the floor panel can be lowered, adding an extra 70L (2.5 cu.ft.) that can come in handy.

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Good drive, fuel economy penalty

Once more within the segment average, we find the 2020 Sportage’s standard 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine. With 181 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque, the Kia delivers spirited performance in most instances. The included 6-speed automatic transmission is short on gears as demonstrated by considerable drops in engine speeds following an upshift. Another sign is its poor average fuel economy numbers of 10L/100km or 23mpg. Most competitors can do much better.

What’s likely most appreciable about the 2020 Kia Sportage is its continued refinement. Driving controls, steering and brakes, provide secure and comforting responses to driver inputs. Handling is also quite good and best of all, the ride is impressively refined. The fully-independent suspension is as “sporty” as it is comfortable. The included 18-inch wheels and tires help provide this ideal balance and poise.

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

What I’m getting at is that the Kia Sportage is a good compact SUV. But the competition has now matched the Kia on value and surpassed it in design, modern touches, and in some cases, long term durability. But, the best Sportage to consider is the base EX which, at $31,695 Canadian, includes an 8-way power driver seat, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and AWD.

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2020 Kia Sportage | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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