- Still great value for money, even as a top-spec car
- Spacious, quality and high tech interior
- Excellent locally-tuned ride and handling
- Dual-clutch transmission needs work
- Short 10,000km service intervals
- More grunt or a hybrid drivetrain would be great
We recently tested the new generation Kia Sportage and came away quite impressed. It’s a very well rounded mid-size SUV that offers a lot to the segment, like a spacious and comfortable interior, a large boot, lots of standard equipment and good value for money. We’ve only tested the entry-level Sportage S, but how about higher up the range? We tested the top-spec 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD to find out.
Mechanically identical to the also-new Hyundai Tucson, the new Sportage competes in a hugely popular part of the new car market. As such, the Sportage competes with a wide range of competitors, including the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander, Renault Koleos, Skoda Karoq and Honda CR-V. What sets the Sportage apart?
Price & Equipment: 8/10
While the Sportage range kicks off at $ plus on-road costs, the 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD that we tested is priced at $49,370 plus on-road costs (around $54,500 drive away). Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, all-LED lighting with LED front fog lights, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, curved dual 10.25-inch screens (one for the digital driver’s display and one for the infotainment system), wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, satellite navigation, wireless phone charging, leather and suede upholstery, a leather steering wheel, a 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory functionality, an eight-way electric passenger seat, heated and cooled front seats, heated and auto-folding mirrors, keyless entry and start, a panoramic glass sunroof, an electric tailgate, 64-colour LED interior ambient lighting and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Safety kit includes seven airbags (including a front centre unit), auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane keep assist with lane trace assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (both with braking), auto high beam, a 360-degree parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto rear braking, driver attention monitoring, rear occupant alert, safe exit warning, blind-spot monitoring cameras, tyre pressure monitoring and an alarm.
The only no-cost colour option for the Sportage is ‘Clear White’, while ‘Steel Grey’, ‘Gravity Grey’, ‘Vesta Blue’, ‘Dawning Red’, ‘Fusion Black’, ‘Snow White Pearl’ and our test car’s ‘Jungle Wood’ paintwork are $520 extra. The only interior colour option in Australia is black.
Chief competition to the Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD are the Mazda CX-5 GT SP (around $54,000 drive away), Hyundai Tucson Highlander 1.6T AWD (around $55,000 drive away) and the Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid AWD (around $53,500 drive away).
All four cars compare well with long lists of standard equipment, including leather upholstery, 19-inch wheels, premium sound systems, smartphone mirroring, wireless smartphone mirroring, a long list of safety features and electric tailgates.
The Tucson and Sportage feature panoramic sunroofs and remote start versus the RAV4 and CX-5’s single pane units and no remote start, while the CX-5 is the only model not to have a 360-degree camera while the RAV4’s 8.0-inch screen is smaller than the 10.25-inch screens in the Sportage, Tucson and CX-5. Overall, we think the Sportage is comfortably the best value in the segment thanks to its long list of kit but pricing that’s lower than rivals.
Performance & Economy: 6/10
Under the bonnet of the 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD is the same 132kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as its Tucson twin. As it is in that car, it’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as standard – choosing the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine keeps all-wheel drive, but uses an eight-speed torque converter automatic instead.
The engine itself is mostly fine. Its modest outputs might not sound like much, but once underway, the Sportage moves fine. The engine sounds alright with a raspy note higher in the rev range, and when you’re just cruising, it’s quiet. Having said that, we’d love to see the 2.5-litre turbo petrol from the Hyundai Sonata N-Line – and the US-spec Stinger – or even the 169kW hybrid sold overseas used locally because it could definitely use some extra grunt.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – as it is in the Tucson – is definitely the weak link in the Sportage’s drivetrain. Its low speed hesitancy, which is nothing new in DCTs, is so unpredictable and really eradicates smooth progress from a standstill. Its tendency to shift into the highest gear possible also hinders progress because it accentuates turbo lag and then the transmission has to downshift to get more go from the engine. Put simply, it needs work.
Kia claims that the Sportage 1.6T AWD will use 7.2L/100km on a combined cycle, and we achieved 10.3L/100km in mostly urban driving. The Sportage will happily run on 91RON regular unleaded and features a 54-litre fuel tank.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
Unlike the Hyundai Tucson, which sits on the same platform, the Sportage is tuned for Australian roads and that means that the suspension tune on Aus-spec cars is different to other markets globally. What this means is that the Sportage rides and handles quite well for a mid-size SUV and we think it’s one of the best in the segment. It’s more compliant than the Euro-tuned Tucson, especially over smaller bumps and it’s also great at highway speeds.
What surprises further about the Sportage is that it’s surprisingly quiet to drive at speed. The old generation Sportage was hardly a loud car for road noise, but the new car has a higher level of noise suppression than its direct rivals, no matter the surface. The Sportage’s steering is pleasant as well with good feel and nice weighting, and its visibility is reasonable as well. Its handling is also positive, with good balance from the chassis and a fun feeling with the quality tyres serving up decent grip.
Interior & Practicality: 9/10
We were quite impressed with the entry level Sportage S’ cabin when we tested it recently, and the top-spec GT-Line takes it to a higher level with better quality materials, more tech and a more expensive feel throughout.
The materials in the Sportage GT-Line are a definite step up on the entry-level Sportage S. The faux wood trim isn’t the best quality, and the hard trims around the centre console would be much better for your legs if they were covered in a soft faux leather trim, but the other materials – soft touch on the doors and dashboard – are generally quite good. The leather and suede seats are particularly comfortable.
Centre of the Sportage’s cabin is a dual 10.25-inch screen set up which is joined together for a particularly nice and high tech feel. The infotainment system is the same one used in other Kia models and it’s crisp, easy to use and full of colour. We think it’s best in class at the moment. The digital driver’s display screen is also pleasing to look at, though unfortunately you can’t have a map in the dials. The eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system lacks oomph as well, with particularly average bass – Mazda’s Bose system is far superior in our eyes… or ears.
The Sportage’s cabin practicality features include big door bins, a nicely sized glovebox, a big box underneath the centre armrest, a big open centre console and a tray ahead of the gearbox. If it doesn’t have enough storage for you, you have way too much stuff.
Cabin space in the Sportage is great, especially in the rear seat where six-footers and above will be more than comfortable. Legroom is particularly awesome because Australia receives the 7.5cm-longer long-wheelbase Sportage. Knee-room and headroom are also both generous. The rear seat itself is quite comfortable as well, and the rear seat passengers are well catered for with vents, map pockets, a centre arm rest with cupholders, door pockets and USB charging ports.
The boot of the 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line measures 543-litres with the rear seats erect and a huge 1,829L with the rear seats folded – smaller than the RAV4 (580L), but bigger than the Tucson (539L) and particularly the CX-5 (432L). The boot also features a few tie down points, under-floor storage, a full-size alloy spare wheel and a 12V socket.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Like all other new Kia products, the 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line comes with a seven-year/unlimited km warranty – superior to competitors’ five-year/unlimited km equivalents. If you service your Sportage at a Kia dealership, you can earn up to eight years of roadside assistance – more than two years more than rivals (and the Toyota has none).
Five years/50,000km of servicing the Sportage costs an expensive $2,465 ($493 per service), servicing the CX-5 costs $2,037 ($407 per service – though beware that’s with short 10,000km service intervals), servicing the RAV4 costs $1,150 ($230 per service) and servicing the Tucson costs $1,595 ($319 per service). While the Kia’s warranty is great, its service cost is on the expensive side.
The 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
As we found with the entry-level Sportage S, the 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD is a genuinely really likeable entrant into the mid-size SUV segment that really should be on your test drive list. Even as the top-spec GT-Line, it’s great value for money with a long list of kit and a lesser price than direct rivals. It’s packed full of technology, it’s spacious, good quality, very comfortable and thanks to Kia’s local tuning program, rides and handles as good as anything in the segment.
It’s a very likeable car, though it’s not perfect. As we discovered in the mechanically identical Hyundai Tucson, the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine matched with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission needs a lot of work. It’s slow to respond, hesitant at low speeds and generally quite unpredictable. It also needs servicing every 10,000km and it’s not cheap to service either. But drivetrain aside, there’s a lot to like about the new Kia Sportage.