The compact CUV market is a highly competitive one -- like asking the math club who can solve 2+2 the fastest; good luck with the results. With competitors like the Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape and MINI Countryman, it's playing the right game: Style.
Yet, at just shy of $40k, my 2013 Kia Sportage SX seemed to be a bit too much style and not enough function for the price.
I absolutely love the design of the 2013 Kia Sportage SX. It's got a commanding look with fun-loving undertones -- like the popular kid who's also nice to all the nerds. A bold front end with LED running lights, a large chrome-lined honeycomb grille, oversized fog lights with subtle chrom accents above ensure the Kia Sportage demands attention in your rearview mirror.
Round back, the 2013 Kia Sportage's good looks continue with a subtle spoiler off the rear windshield, and aggressively shaped taillights that sit high on the shoulderline of the CUV, giving the Sportage a jacked-up, spring-loaded stance.
With the SX-trim 18-inchers (that might be a bit much for some, but I think are uber stylish and suit the vehicle), and dual exhaust tips out the rear, the 2013 Kia Sportage is everything a young, hip urbanite would want in a compact CUV package, even on the inside.
In the lap of looking good
Just as the vehicle's market placement would suggest, the interior of the 2013 Kia Sportage is compact. It's a bit of a tight squeeze with everything condensed and closely placed together. The dash sits low, as does the radio and other centre stack buttons and knobs.
I liked the closeness of everything in the 2013 Kia Sportage, but didn't appreciate the lack of storage space up front. I wished for a bin above the centre-mounted touchscreen, and that the cupholders weren't so recessed and low down (made grabbing hold of my morning take-out coffee quite difficult while driving).
The front seats are comfortable and roomy, although I did wish for a bit more lateral support at times. And a sliding armrest also would have been appreciated as my short stature means my seat was pushed forward quite a bit, leaving me mere centimetres to use on the stationary armrest.
In the back, while there's room for three, it's better suited for two adults or one baby seat (which required a rolled towel underneath to compensate for the angle of the seat) and one adult, nothing more. And although the 2013 Kia Sportage boasts 740 litres of cargo space in the trunk, I could not load my stroller perpendicular to the car (as I can in most non-cars).
And then you drive it
And everything that kind of bothered you about the style-over-function conundrum kinda goes away, especially in the SX which boasts Kia's 2.0L turbocharged GDI inline 4-cylinder. With 260 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, the 2013 Kia Sportage is a lot of fun to pilot. Add to that the fact that in SX trim you get AWD, and the Sportage has a lot to offer.
The 6-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox performs very well. The power delivery is clean and turbo-lag is nearly non-existent. And despite the Sportage's 3,600lb weight, this CUV can really boot it when asked. Something I definitely appreciated.
However, confidence was lost in cornering as the body roll is evident. And the electric-assist steering felt disjointed and removed from the wheels. I wanted to be more connected to the 2013 Kia Sportage SX, and I just didn't feel it.
Visibility in the Sportage is also rather hampered by the shape of the rear windows and the large A and B pillars. And with a rear-facing baby seat installed in the rear passenger-side seat, visibility is all but lost out that window.
Form over function
While I appreciate Kia's efforts in the design and looks department, I can't help but feel they sacrificed some of the practicality associated with a CUV for that boost in street cred.