Automotive road trip review of the 2018 Kia Sportage

In May of 2018 I had an opportunity take a Phoenix to Denver road trip in a 2018 Kia Sportage.  I logged over 3000 miles and had the vehicle for nearly a month. This is what I thought of the Kia Sportage from a road trip perspective.

Kia Sportage on dirt road in Moab by Mike Shubic

INITIAL ASSESSMENT: The Kia Sportage SXT is a solid road trip vehicle. It’s comfortable and actually fun to drive. It has great acceleration and is relatively spacious. The Sportage handles quite well too, but its low-profile tires do transfer more road noise than I expected. Also, while this model was equipped with AWD capabilities, I was reluctant to take is past the limits of a rugged dirt road—mainly due to its low profile street tires and low clearance. This is a crossover vehicle and not an SUV. I do imagine the AWD would come in quite handy for rainy, snow and icy conditions, however I did not experience those during this late springtime road trip. Fuel economy was good, about on par with the sticker. More on that below.

VEHICLE MODEL: 2018 Kia Sportage SX Turbo with all-wheel drive (tested). There are three models to choose from, the base LX, EX or the top-of-the-line SX Turbo, which is about $10k more than the base.

VEHICLE SPECS:

BASE PRICE: $23,600. As tested, $36,135

MRT ROAD TRIP RATINGS (1-50 miles. The farther I’m willing to drive, the better. 50 miles is the highest score):

  • Acceleration 42 out of 50 miles (No problems passing, plenty of acceleration).
  • Breaking 44 out of 50 miles (Very responsive breaking).
  • Climate Control 49 out of 50 miles (The air condition, heating, individual controls, etc. were fantastic).
  • Sound System 42 out of 50 miles (Great sounds system, easily connects to phone/iPod with Sirius radio).
  • Navigation System 43 out of 50 miles (Great Bluetooth connection. Lane indicator. Apple Car and Sirius radio included. I did not care for the integrated maps feature and tended to use my phone for Google Maps).
  • Windshield Wipers 48 out of 50 miles
  • Seat Comfort 38 out of 50 miles (The seats have plenty of power adjustments, but I found them to be a bit narrow for my average frame. The sides have slight wings that when my bum was not perfectly centered, I found it a bit uncomfortable).
  • Gas Mileage 41 out of 50 miles (I filled up ten times and average 23.9 miles all together [details below]).
  • Miles per tank 47 out of 50 miles (The Kia Sportage SXT gets pretty good range. The most miles I logged on a single tank was 338 and the low fuel light was on. With a 16.4 gal tank, I would not have wanted to push it any farther than 350 miles, but would recommend filling up around the 300 mile mark to be on the safe side).
  • Head lights 50 out of 50 miles (Great illumination with auto high beam feature, which means as on-coming traffic closes in, the lights automatically dim so you don’t have to).
  • Sun visor 30 out of 50 miles (Too small to really do much good, doesn’t expand).
  • Wind when window is down 38 out of 50 (When the driver’s window is down, quite a lot of air comes in).
  • Blind Spots 47 out of 50 miles (None really…good visibility).
  • Controls 48 out of 50 miles (Everything was quiet accessible and intuitive).
  • Heated Seats 50 out 50 miles (worked great, has 3 different heat level settings).
  • Cooling seats 36 out of 50 miles (This was my first time in a car with cooling seats. In theory, this is a fantastic option. While the system works well, it takes a long time to cool off, especially if the car has been parked in the sun).
  • Heated Steering Wheel 45 out of 50 miles (This is a nice feature, but not really necessary unless you live in really cold climates, and even then, you’re likely to have gloves on. I would much rather have a cooling option).
  • Road Trip storage 41 out of 50 miles (The Kia Sportage has adequate storage for a road trip for two people, but with four, it would be tight for longer road trips. The hatchback area has a retractable cargo cover option, but I found it to be 1-2″ too low to fit a standard checked-bag on its side. The cargo net is a nice option to keep things from sliding around. There is also a roof rack option that could expand storage for a road trip).
  • Sunroof 50 out of 50 miles (The sunroof was quite nice, it runs nearly the entire length of the car and provide nice circulation without being blown out of the car. Also nice to have open on a warm evening looking at the stars…while parked of course).
  • Autonomous features (no rating as none really exists except for the lane indicator that beeps when you drive over a lane unintentionally. Kind of surprising that there are no autonomous features at this price point, and, at this point in time when these features/technology have been around a while now.

Mike’s Road Trip Kia Sportage SXT Rating: 41.42 miles out of 50

Kia Sportage in front of Elephant Feet by MikesRoadTrip.com

KIA SPORTAGE FUEL ECONOMY DETAILS

This Kia Sportage model is rated at 21 city and 26 highway, much less than the 23/30 of the LX model., but the SXT has a much more robust engine with a turbo. The overall average was 23.9 mpg after 10 fill ups. Most miles were highway, and as you can see the details below, the mpg varied a lot from fill-up to fill-up. By the way, there are 3 driving modes, ECO, Standard and Sport. I used Standard about 85% of the time, with 5% in ECO and 10% in Sport. Note: The paddle shifters for Sport mode can be fun to use.

  • 9.52 gal 207.3 miles = 21.7 mpg
  • 10.3 gal 260 miles = 25.2 mpg
  • 8.6 gal 178 miles = 20.6 mpg
  • 11.7 gal 260 miles = 22.2 mpg
  • 11.2 gal 290 miles = 25.8mpg
  • 10.8 gal 264 miles = 24.4mpg
  • 13.5 gal 338 miles = 25.0 mpg
  • 5.9 gal 157 miles = 26.6 mpg
  • 12.5 gal 310 miles = 24.8 mpg
  • 10.7 gal 243 miles = 22.7 mpg

Kia Sportage Interior

CONCLUSION

I find the SUV and Crossover vehicles to be the most compatible for the types of road trips I like to do, which encompasses some off-road exploration. I also enjoy camping, hiking and other recreation activities that typically require more gear, which in turn requires more space. The Kia Sportage SXT was a great vehicle to take on this long road trip from Phoenix to Denver and back. It was fun to drive, and for the most part, quite comfortable. The vehicle handles really well, from speed/acceleration, braking to the tight suspension. I felt safe, confident, and in-control at all times. Visibility is quite good, which is important so that you are aware of your surroundings (other cars near you). The climate control and navigation also made the road trip comfort nice. Heat and cooling never took long to get comfortable. One annoying featured I could not figure out how to turn off was the audible lane warning indicator. I never realized how often I got close, or on, the lanes of the road until driving this vehicle. It’s not a bad feature, but it could get annoying after awhile. I just wish they had lane assist integrated instead, which would make the car go back into its respective lane on its own, rather than telling me to do it.

Kia Sportage aerial by MikesRoadTrip.com

If you own, or have ever driven the Kia Sportage, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any questions about this vehicle, please leave a comment below and I’ll try and answer it.

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

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