Sleeker, roomier Kia Sportage debuts for 2017

With hopes of gaining market share in the compact crossover utility segment, Kia is stepping up its game and offering a redesigned, fourth-generation Sportage for the 2017 model year.

The 2017 Kia Sportage features sporty styling, a more refined cabin with increased leg room for front and rear passengers, a more pleasing ride and the availability of advanced safety and infotainment technologies.

The new Sportage looks sleek and more athletic. Its body panels are all-new, but the most substantial revision is up front, where you will find Kia’s trademark “tiger-nose” grille and higher-positioned headlights. Those features certainly lend to a more aggressive face.

Regardless of whether you approve of Sportage’s new look, its new cabin is quite appealing. Thanks to soft-touch materials and better-looking trim, Sportage’s driver-oriented cockpit looks and feels more upscale.

Sportage’s overall length has increased by 1.6 inches, and the cabin feels roomier. The previous-generation Sportage did not provide enough rear leg room for tall adults. Now, Sportage comfortably accommodates four large adults or a family of five.

Cargo space behind the rear seats has grown from 26.1 cubic feet to 30.7 cubic feet. The cargo area’s lift-over height has been lowered to make it easier to load and unload items, and an available Smart Power Liftgate that automatically opens when the key fob is within three feet of the vehicle provides added convenience.

The 2017 Kia Sportage is available in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX Turbo. All are available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and all come standard with a four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing for the entry-level but well-equipped LX begins at $22,990, and that includes 17-inch alloy wheels; full power accessories; remote keyless entry; steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls; tilt-and-telescoping steering column; 160-watt, six-speaker audio system with SiriusXM and a five-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio; and a rear back-up camera.

The EX (pricing starts at $25,500) trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, roof rails, Smart Key, push-button starting, windshield wiper de-icer, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Kia’s UVO3 eServices telematics.

A 181-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard in LX and EX models. FWD models get 23/30 mpg city/highway; AWD models drop to 21/25 mpg. The 2.4-liter engine does provide Sportage LX and EX models with adequate power.

If you want more power, the top-of-the-line SX Turbo model is motivated by a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The turbo 2.0-liter engine provides V-6-like power, but fuel economy drops to 21/26 mpg city/highway for FWD models and 20/23 mpg for AWD models.

Aside from the engine upgrade, the SX Turbo (pricing starts at $32,500) also adds a very long list of luxuries and safety features.

While the Sportage may not be as spacious or as fuel-efficient as some of its competitors, it possesses many fine qualities while providing excellent value for its buyers.