Kia Sportage 2020 review: SX
With only minor updates for the 2020 model year, does Kia's Sportage still offer a compelling mid-size SUV choice?
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Mid-sized SUVs are the big thing right now and every brand wants you to buy theirs, including SsangYong which has the Korando. So, what’s the deal with SsangYong and is the Korando any good, say compared to a Kia Sportage, a Subaru XV or a Hyundai Tucson and why do they all have such silly names?
Well, I can’t explain the names, but I can help with the rest because not only have I road-tested those cars, but I’ve just driven the new Korando in the Ultimate grade – which sits at the top of the range, if the name didn’t give that away already.
|Ssangyong Korando 2020: ULTIMATE|
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Heck yes and it’s interesting in a good way, unlike the previous Korando which was also interesting to look at but for all the wrong reasons, with its clumsy and dated styling. Yep, it’s amazing what money can do and by that, I mean Indian company Mahindra buying the Korean brand SsangYong in 2011. A few years on we saw the next-generation Rexton large SUV and the small Tivoli SUV appear with striking good looks.
The all-new Korando arrived late in 2019 also sporting a much sexier exterior. There’s the high, flat bonnet, the serious looking face with its sleek headlights and bladed lower grille, and there are sharp creases that trace the way down the car and step up toward the muscular wheel arches. And then there’s the tailgate which is either beautiful enough to wear an Alfa Romeo badge or busy and over the top, depending on who you ask. Either way, the Korando has a much more refined and upmarket exterior design than the previous model.
The Korando I tested was the top-of-the-range Ultimate and it has some styling differences to the rest of the line-up, such as 19-inch wheels which are the largest in the range, rear privacy glass, a sun-roof and LED fog-lights.
While the exterior has premium good looks, the interior design is less convincing in its styling and quality feel. The tall dashboard, for example, has prestige aspirations of a continuous trim line running from door to door, but the execution fails because the fit and finish isn’t as good as it needs to be to accomplish that feat.
Then there are the slightly odd design elements such as the steering wheel’s squashed shape (I’m not kidding, see the images) and the expanses of glossy black plastic.
The Korando is classified as a medium-sized SUV, but it’s small for the class. Well, its dimensions are 1870mm wide, 1620mm tall and 4450mm end-to-end. That places it in a sort of grey area between small and medium sized SUVs. See, a Korando is about 100mm longer than a Kia Seltos and a Toyota C-HR both of which are small SUVs, while the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are about 30mm longer and these are mid-sized SUVs. The Subaru XV is closest at only 15mm longer than a Korando and that’s considered a small SUV. Confused? Then forget the numbers and let’s look at the space inside.
The cabin of the Korando looks little in the images, because it is. Admittedly, at 191cm tall with a two-metre wingspan I find most houses too small for me, let alone cars.
So, despite the horizontal lines on the dashboard trying to trick my brain into thinking the cabin is wider than it is, my body was telling me a different story. It’s not as cramped as the back seat, though. I can just sit behind my driving position with a finger’s width of space between my knees and the seatback.
That’s not great for the class. I have more room in the Subaru XV and Hyundai Tucson. As for headroom, it’s not bad thanks to the tall and flat roofline.
The cargo capacity of the Korando is 551 litres and if like me you can only visualise two litres at a time because that’s the quantity milk comes in, then take a look at the images and you’ll see the big, shiny CarsGuide suitcase fits in without any dramas.
Cabin storage is good with two cup holders upfront, and a deep centre-console bin with a tray in the back of it for the second-row passengers. Those in the back also have two cup-holders in the fold-down middle armrest. All doors have large pockets for bottles, too.
A single USB port (up front) and three 12V outlets (front, second row and cargo area) is disappointing for a modern SUV.
The name probably gives this away, but the Ultimate is the top-grade Korando and that also makes it the most expensive, although the petrol version I tested is $3000 less than the diesel grade with its list price of $36,990.
The standard features list is impressive and includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six-speaker stereo, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a 10.25-inch digital instrument display, heated steering wheel, power tailgate, rear privacy glass, proximity key, puddle lamps, sun roof, auto folding mirrors and 19-inch alloys.
You’re getting a lot of equipment there, but you’re also paying $37K before on-road costs. A top-of-the-range Subaru XV 2.0i-S lists for $36,530, a Hyundai Tucson in the Active X grade is $35,090 and a Kia Sportage SX + is $37,690. So, is it great value? Not outrageously great, but still good.
The Korando Ultimate does come with a diesel engine, but the version tested had a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol. The diesel is the safer bet if you’re planning to pull a caravan or trailer because it has a better braked towing capacity of 2000kg.
The petrol’s 1500kg braked towing capacity is still great for the class, however, and the engine makes 120kW and 280Nm, which are also good outputs compared to those of its rivals. The transmission is a six-speed automatic.
All Korandos are front-wheel drive only, but 182mm of ground clearance is better than a regular car, but I wouldn’t get any more adventurous than a smooth, well-maintained dirt road.
SsangYong says the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder in the Korando should use 7.7L/100km after a combination of open and urban driving.
On test, it took 7.98L of premium unleaded petrol to fill the 47-litre tank after driving 55.1km on city and suburban roads – that comes to 14.5L/100km. If you live in the city that’s likely to be similar to your usage, too, but throw in motorways and that figure will drop at least a few litres.
Keep in mind, too, that the Korando runs on premium unleaded petrol.
First impressions? The indicator sound is loud and totally 1980s arcade game; the centre console armrest is too high; the headlights are dim at night, and the reversing camera image in poor light is a bit Blair Witch (look it up and be terrified if you don’t get the reference).
Those are the not-so-good things, but there’s much more to like which I discovered during the course of the week. The ride is comfortable; the body control is great without any of that SUV wobble that some of its rivals tend to get over speed bumps; and visibility all around is also good – I liked how the tall flat bonnet made it easy to see how wide the car was in tight spaces.
As for the engine, it felt responsive with enough oomph for overtaking, and the transmission, while a bit slow to shift sometimes, was smooth. Steering is light and a turning circle of 10.4m is good for the class.
This is an easy and comfortable SUV to drive.
7 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The SsangYong Korando was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2019, scoring well in the impact tests for adult and child protection, but not as high for pedestrian detection or for advanced safety equipment effectiveness.
Still, the Korando Ultimate has an impressive array of safety tech, including AEB, lane-keeping assistant and lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assistance and adaptive cruise control.
That’s on top of seven airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
For child seats you’ll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the back row. My five-year old’s seat fitted easily, and I was more than comfortable with his level of safety in the back during the course of my week with the Korando.
I wasn’t comfortable with the lack of spare wheel. There’s an inflator kit under the boot floor, but I’d rather have a spare (even a space saver) and lose some boot capacity.
The Korando is covered by SsangYong’s seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km and, for the petrol Korando, the prices are capped at $295 for each of the first seven regular services.
There’s a lot to like about the Korando Ultimate. There’s the advanced safety tech and five-star ANCAP rating, more features than its similarly priced rivals, plus it’s comfortable and easy to drive. The drawbacks come down to the interior's fit and finish not being on the same high level as its rivals, while you’re also getting “less car for the price” when compared in size to those rivals, too.
|ELX||1.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$30,990||2020 Ssangyong Korando 2020 ELX Pricing and Specs|
|ELX LE||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$32,990||2020 Ssangyong Korando 2020 ELX LE Pricing and Specs|
|EX||1.5L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$26,990||2020 Ssangyong Korando 2020 EX Pricing and Specs|
|ULTIMATE||1.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$36,990||2020 Ssangyong Korando 2020 ULTIMATE Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|