2015 Kia Sportage

What's new for 2015? After undergoing more extensive revisions last year, the 2015 Kia Sportage returns with only minor reshuffling of the content of some option packages.

When the Kia Sportage made its U.S. debut almost 20 years ago, it tried to take on traditional sport-utility vehicles head-to-head with its serious four-wheel-drive capability. Before long, however, Kia realized that the growing number of buyers was really looking for more than just physically smaller versions of familiar full-size SUVs. They wanted a vehicle that combines the practicality of the sport-utility body style with the more civilized ride and handling qualities of a passenger car.

The 2015 Kia Sportage goes a little beyond that, even. More than just giving you carlike abilities, it effectively backs up what its name implies by offering nimble handling and strong engines. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the SX trim level, in particular, is a standout, thanks to its 260 horsepower. You won't find much else out there that's quicker. The Sportage also gives you sleek styling, an extensive list of standard features and options and a price tag that typically undercuts the compact crossover competition.

Exterior Highlights
Small crossover SUV available in LX, EX and SX trim levels

The 2015 Kia Sportage is a small crossover SUV with seating for five passengers. It's offered in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX.

The entry-level LX model's list of standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

Options on the LX include the Popular package (requires UVO eServices package) that adds side mirrors with built-in turn signals, roof rails, a rear spoiler, a trip computer and rear-seat center armrest. The UVO eServices package includes automatic headlights, a rearview camera and Kia's UVO telematics system.

The Sportage EX gets all of the above and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a cooled glovebox, upgraded cloth upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded Infinity sound system with HD radio.

Adding the EX Premium package gets you power-folding mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 7-inch touchscreen display and a navigation system.

The sportier SX model is equipped much like the EX, but tacks on a turbocharged engine, xenon headlights, daytime running lights and LED taillights, power-folding mirrors, keyless entry and ignition and the navigation system to its list of standard equipment. The SX Luxury option package includes a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Thoughtfully laid out gauges, knobs, buttons and controls, 7-inch touhscreen, comfortable and supportive seats, reclining seatbacks in second row

The interior of the 2015 Kia Sportage is a handsome space with styling that gives it a somewhat bolder look than some of its more traditional competitors. Gauges, knobs, buttons and other controls are thoughtfully laid out and easy to use, especially the navigation system functions accessed via the 7-inch touchscreen. The one aesthetic downside here -- the extensive use of hard plastic throughout the cabin -- is offset by the fact that it's nicely textured and accented by well-placed padding in places it's needed most, like the armrest atop the center-console storage bin.

The front seats offer good comfort and support, and the reclining seatbacks in the second row are a plus. Cargo space also is in short supply compared with other compact crossovers, with just 26.1 cubic feet behind the 60/40-split folding rear seats and only 54.6 cubic feet with both of those sections folded down. A handy divided organizer beneath the cargo floor is good for keeping the inevitable odds-and-ends like jumper cables handy but out of sight.

Standard safety features on all 2015 Kia Sportage models include antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

Kia's latest version of its UVO telematics system, which is offered as an option on the base LX model and is standard on the rest of the lineup, includes emergency and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, geo-fencing and speed tracking (allowing parents to set limits for teen drivers) and other smartphone-enabled features accessed via the UVO app.

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