Kia Sportage SLi petrol 2017 review

Can a Sportage survive the kid's party test?

Nedahl Stelio

12 Jan 2018 • 17 min read

I had originally planned a very low-key party for my daughter’s 4th birthday. But what started out as a few friends in the park, drinking a morning coffee while the kids amused themselves, suddenly blew out into 22 kids, 14 adults and a stressed out mum - that is, me.

When you have an event like a (sound the trumpets) child’s 4th birthday, you need everything in your life to align in order to meet the challenge. Will your partner organise something besides the musical statues music (hint, hint)? Will the kids nag 'til you buy them a new dress for the party (a moment of weakness, granted). Will the fridge fit the cake or do you need to pick it up on the morning (please fit). Will the car be big enough to lug all the stuff to the park because you realise your house is too small to host the party. If all things align, it should make the whole event easier.

I lived with the Kia Sportage SLi petrol SUV for this particular week. Did it help me with my last minute planning? Or was it lacking when put to the children’s birthday test?

The drive

I had to zip all over town to get the present, organise the cake from my fab cousin, get decorations for the park (originally, there was not even a thought of decorations, but isn’t it funny how a few more parents at a party can put the pressure on you to make it bigger and better than you have time for?), plus do all my usual - go to work, do school and daycare drop-offs, think about dinner, laundry and the rest of it.

  • I lived with the Kia Sportage SLi petrol SUV for this particular week. (image credit: Dean McCartney) I lived with the Kia Sportage SLi petrol SUV for this particular week. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • Some larger SUVs can feel quite heavy, but the Sportage is a great size and was quite easy to park. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Some larger SUVs can feel quite heavy, but the Sportage is a great size and was quite easy to park. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The Sportage was a dream to drive. She zipped in and out of traffic and made me feel like a (gasp!) fairly competent mother. I was getting things done! In time! I was superwoman! I could manoeuvre in and out of lanes quite quickly and it has a tight (10.9m) turning circle, which meant I wasn’t doing lots of rushed three-point turns.

Some larger SUVs can feel quite heavy, but the Sportage is a great size and was quite easy to park. You still feel big enough in it, and high enough off the road to feel safe, but it’s not like you’re driving a tank. It is a bit noisy going up hills, but it does get up, no problem.

The Kia has a tight (10.9m) turning circle, which meant I wasn’t doing lots of rushed three-point turns. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Kia has a tight (10.9m) turning circle, which meant I wasn’t doing lots of rushed three-point turns. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The other thing I noticed was the absolute smoothness of the ride, and when I asked an expert colleague about that, he said it was down to the Australian Kia team testing the suspension all over Australian roads, and fine tuning it to suit even the dodgy bumpy roads. You’re basically getting a custom drive and you can definitely feel the difference.

The space

The front of the Sportage SLi is really roomy and comfortable, and so is the back. Or so I thought, until my four-year-old was in her car seat and actually asked my husband to move his seat forward so she had more leg space. He’s 185cm, so fairly tall… but she’s four. And miniature.

Secondly, boot space. The Sportage swallowed a whole load of party groceries; everything from fruit and chocolate, to chips, popcorn and soda water, so ticks for that.

There are four cupholders in total, two in front and two in back. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There are four cupholders in total, two in front and two in back. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

But the birthday party is at a park so I wanted to bring my two daughters their bikes and scooters. They went, rather like a poorly executed jigsaw puzzle, but there was no room for anything else, like the food I would need to bring, or the cake, and I realised I would have to make two trips to the park come party day. Cue loud sigh.

However, at 466 litres (VDA), its load area is bigger than the Mazda CX-5’s and slightly bigger than the Ford Escape’s, but a tad smaller than the Hyundai Tuscon's.

The safety

One of my biggest priorities is safety, naturally, regardless of whether you can transport five bikes, three kids and the dog! The Sportage has two ISOFIX points in the back plus three top tether points for car seats.

There are airbags in the front and on the side of the front row, plus side curtain airbags in the back row to help protect your kids if someone crashes into the side of your car.

The front of the Sportage SLi is really roomy and comfortable, and so is the back. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The front of the Sportage SLi is really roomy and comfortable, and so is the back. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

It also has a reversing camera to help with parking, and front and rear parking sensors, and while sometimes I find them more annoying than useful, on this model they didn’t beep like crazy and give me a panic attack every time I parked the car. It also has AEB - Auto Emergency Braking - which means that if you're rolling along and get distracted the car will stop automatically, on its own. All up, it gets a maximum five star ANCAP rating.

The style

Outside, she’s a winner, particularly the side profile. I’m not super keen on the front grille, but it reminds me a bit of Bumblebee from Transformers so I bet your children (got boys?) will love it.

You feel big enough in it, and high enough off the road to feel safe, but it’s not like you’re driving a tank. (image credit: Dean McCartney) You feel big enough in it, and high enough off the road to feel safe, but it’s not like you’re driving a tank. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Inside there are leather seats to bring a little luxe to the every day churn, plus the steering wheel feels great to touch which I always find makes a big difference. I mean, if you’re driving the car every day from daycare to school to after school activities to home to daycare to school to after school activities from daycare to school … you’ve got to give yourself small pleasures, right?

One thing I didn’t love is the bubble finish on the dash which ran all the way down the centre console. I know it’s popular at the moment, but I feel like it brings the look of the car down. When you could have shiny and smooth, why opt for dull and bumpy? It’s like saying, “I’ll have the shonky manicure thanks, I prefer it.”

Practicality

I’m not sure how much more practicality we can shove into our lives as parents, but it seems I can’t get enough. ANYTHING to make it EASIER. Because if you are running around like a mad hatter trying to organise a birthday, just little things like the door not opening enough to fit a big box in the backseat, or the boot being too high off the ground for your tired arms to swing the groceries in without feeling like they’re breaking because you’ve also been carrying your four-year-old, and her backpack, and your bag, and pushing the trolley, and, and, and! When stretched to your limits, those little things can be enough to push you over the edge.

Claimed combined fuel efficiency is at 7.9 litres per 100kms which is pretty good for a car this size. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Claimed combined fuel efficiency is at 7.9 litres per 100kms which is pretty good for a car this size. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The Sportage has been well thought out on all counts. The back doors open wide - not extraordinarily, new Honda-CRV-levels wide (apparently they open to 90 degrees, the joy! Can you imagine!) but wide enough to fit big boxes through.

Nor did I break my back throwing the groceries in, because this week (of all weeks) I also put my neck out so I really didn’t need any extra pain. The Sportage’s boot was a good height off the ground and was easy to open, not heavy.

There are four cupholders in total, two in front and two in back, plus a bottle holder in every door. There’s also a full-size spare tyre in the boot which is great for family road trips, and lots of spots to charge gadgets - two 12 volt sockets in the front and back consoles, and USB and auxiliary-in ports. For when you’re desperate enough to plug in the iPad on said road trip.

The tech

This model of Sportage has Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto) which basically means that plugging your phone in will bring up your contacts, map, messages and a few more icons onto the 7.0-inch multimedia screen, making it instantly easier to use.

Plugging your phone in will bring up your contacts, map, messages and a few more icons onto the 7.0-inch multimedia screen. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Plugging your phone in will bring up your contacts, map, messages and a few more icons onto the 7.0-inch multimedia screen. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

This was a help when I was trying to find the bargain balloon shop that seemed so elusive I thought it was an urban myth. But I found it.

Fuel efficiency

The warranty + cost

The car I drove comes in at $39,690 plus premium paint (in 'Sparkling Silver') for $520.

Kia’s warranty is the best in the industry, with seven years offered which includes roadside assist and a free first service at three months.

It’s also got capped servicing during the warranty period, with the diesel version costing a total of $3695 over seven years, and this petrol's service program costing $2942 over seven years.

After a more detailed review? Click here.


The Wrap

I really like the way the Kia Sportage SLi felt while driving. It was super practical and fitted into my busy lifestyle well. It has an excellent warranty and is good value for money.

I gave it a family rating of 7 stars out of 10, taking points off for boot space and interior styling.

The party was a great success, by the way, thanks for asking.

Does your car fit your lifestyle? What kind of car would? Tell us in the comments below.

Likes

The smooth drive
Apple Carplay/Android Auto
Practicality

Dislikes

Boot space
Interior styling
Loud up hills

Scores

Nedahl:

3.5

The Kids:

$31,221 - $39,290

Based on 100 car listings in the last 6 months

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