Kia Sportage: Travelling north

2022 Kia Sportage SX 11

What is it?

OVER the past 55 years we’ve ticked off just about every A, B and C highway and secondary road in North-East Victoria and the Southern Riverina, plus goodness knows how many other tourist routes, minor roads, and bush tracks throughout the region.

But every so often we leave our comfort zone and head further afield, this time by plane to Brisbane, followed by 12 days in a 2022 Kia Sportage SX diesel touring the south-east corner of Queensland.

No, not to drive the crowded coast roads or the bogged down main arteries such as the Pacific Motorway (M1) or the Gold Coast Highway, but those great Hinterland driving and touring roads to the west, north west and south west.

These are the roads which climb up the Great Dividing Range and criss cross numerous national parks before coming out the other side.

The Hinterland is defined as the Tweed Range, Nimmel Range, Tamborine Mountain, Numinbah Valley, eastern parts of the McPherson Range, and the western parts of suburban Gold Coast.

Just the roads to put the Sportage to the test.

2022 Kia Sportage SX 10

What’s it cost?

Sportage, which slots between the Seltos and Sorento, is available in four variants: S, SX, SX+, and GT-Line, and can be had with petrol or diesel power.

Pricing starts from $32,445, climbing to $52,370 for the GT-Line diesel.

The as-tested SX diesel wears a sticker price of $42,400, plus on-roads.

All grades are well kitted out, with more goodies added the further up the model range you go.

In addition to the base S, our SX gained 18-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, dual zone climate control, remote folding second row seats, front parking sensors, and a power lumbar adjustment for the driver.

If you want premium paint, it adds $520 to the asking price.

Like the four before it, the fifth generation Sportage is not shy in its ‘out there’ design and follows the all-electric EV6 in Kia’s ‘opposites united’ design philosophy.

It looks the part and there is no denying the clear family resemblance to the swoopy EV6.

The Sportage nameplate has been around for 29 years and if you thought the fourth generation was different in looks, especially its ‘on top’ headlight treatment, then this latest outing is really in your face.

Which is a good thing.

And if you think the exterior has the wow factor, open any door. 

That’s when wow, becomes, WOW!

Although the 8-inch infotainment screen in our Cerato pales against the 12.3-inch in the SX, we had no problem adjusting to its layout, and that included the sat-nav which, in our opinion, is too big.

Despite some shortcomings in tech, the SX is still a well kitted-out vehicle, coming with LED head and taillights, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, multi-function rear-view camera with dynamic parking guidelines, high beam assist, auto headlights, and rain sensing wipers.

SX misses out on a powered tailgate, keyless start, and a self-dipping interior rear-view mirror.

Sportage’s interior boasts an interesting, practical design, with plenty of space front and rear.

Nice touches include neatly designed air vents and door pulls, there are rear seat air vents, 60:40 split-fold rear seats, Bluetooth, two USB charge points, two 12-volt outlets, and a rear centre armrest.

There is a full suite of active safety features, including ABS, stability control, hill-start assist, lane-keep assist, blind-spot collision warning and avoidance, and autonomous emergency braking, plus three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX points, and advanced smart cruise control with stop and go. 

2022 Kia Sportage SX 4

What’s it go like?

The Sportage’s sharp new clothes are highlighted by an aggressive snout with boomerang-shaped daytime running lights, a slim corporate tiger grille atop the main grille, and one piece lighting cluster.

The rear design is simple chic, and while the swoopy waistline is slim, it does not impede side or rear vision.

Engines are a 115kW/192Nm 2-litre petrol, a 132kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol, and a 137kW/416Nm 2-litre turbodiesel, while transmission offerings, depending on model, are six-speed manual and six-speed automatic, seven-speed dual clutch automatic (AWD), and eight-speed automatic (AWD).

Our SX 2-litre turbo-diesel was married to an eight-speed torque converter automatic driving all four wheels. 

Of the three engines available in Sportage, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel is the standout.

It is a relatively quiet, responsive, and solid performer, with all that power and torque (137kW and 415Nm) making short work of the hilly terrain to the west of the Gold Coast.

The well-chosen ratios of the eight-speed auto meant smooth and quick changes, with the shuffling of torque going to all four wheels being undetected.

The SX offered plenty of grip and surety as we tackled some slippery tarmac surfaces on steep and windy roads, with the vehicle offering a smooth ride and the suspension compliant, even when traversing some rough sections.

Body roll is well controlled, with little pitch or sway through tight bends and sweeping corners – even at speed.

There was a time when you would struggle to get excited about a Kia’s handling, and I can remember saying to my co-driver at the national launch of the second generation Cerato in 2008, that all this car needed was a suspension tweak so that the car would ride Oz roads better.

It was the same consensus among our peers.

Kia must have listened because, along with sister company Hyundai, it has Australianised the suspension settings on all its models, and it is hard to fault how any of them ride and handle.

The Sportage SX diesel is no exception

The only glitch in our drive through the hills was the SX’s slightly heavy steering, meaning we needed to put in a bit more effort during cornering, and there was also a lack of brake pedal feel.

Jump on them though and they are more than up to the challenge.

Having a Kia product parked in our own garage (a 2021 Cerato Sport+ sedan) means we are familiar with how the South Korean automotive giant lays out the interior of its latest product range, and the Sportage is no exception.

Except for that huge, central, touchscreen.

All switchgear and other controls are where we expected them to be, and it did not take long to familiarise ourselves with the 12.3-inch infotainment screen which, in the top-of-the-line GT-Line variant, is paired with a 12.3-inch full digital instrument panel which are integrated into a curved sweeping layout which occupies two thirds of the dash.

The same swoopy instrument panel on our SX featured a digital rev counter, digital speedometer, fuel and temperature bars, and computer readouts for fuel consumption, distance travelled, etc.

Beneath are the dual-zone climate control and touchscreen function buttons, while other buttons and switches carry down to the centre console.

These include the Terrain Mode Selector which automatically optimises traction, stability, and control, whether you are playing in mud, sand, or snow.

Kia claims combined fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km.

The onboard computer showed 6.8L/100km, or 0.5L/100km more than the factory figure.

We had to be happy with that!

The SX diesel has a braked towing capacity of 1650kg.

2022 Kia Sportage SX 5

What we like?

  • Stunning looks
  • Driving experience
  • Interior layout and digital screens
  • Interior space and comfort
  • Efficient diesel engine

2022 Kia Sportage SX 7

What we don’t like?

  • SX trim and equipment not much higher than base model
  • No rear window tinting
  • C-pillar garnish

2022 Kia Sportage SX 2

The bottom line?

No matter which Sportage variant you choose, it is going to be the talk of the street.

The SX diesel is a charmer, but if the budget could stretch to the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, AWD, GT-Line, that is the one we would opt for as it ticks all the boxes with its glitzier exterior and interior, and on-road presence.

As a family buy, the SX diesel, with its city cred and snow-ready attributes, is a winner.

2022 Kia Sportage SX 8

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Kia Sportage SX AWD diesel, priced from $42,400
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 9/10
  • Practicality - 10/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 9/10

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