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Kia Sportage


Fiat 500X

Summary

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is a handsome, well-priced contender in a crowded mid-sized SUV market that includes the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Toyota's RAV4 and Hyundai's Tucson. The latest generation has, however, been lacking in a key area since its launch in 2016. Has Kia sorted the oversight with this facelifted model?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Fiat 500X

Fiat's indomitable 500 is one of the great survivors - not even VW's recently deceased New Beetle could keep riding the nostalgia wave, partly because it made itself just that little bit out-of-touch by not being a car anyone can buy. The 500 avoided that, particularly in its home market, and is still going strong.

Fiat added the 500X compact SUV a few years ago and at first I thought it was a daft idea. It's a polarising car, partly because some people complain it's capitalising on the 500's history. Well, duh. It's worked out well for Mini, so why not?

I've driven one every year for the last couple so I was keen to see what's up and whether it's still one of the weirdest cars on the road.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Kia Sportage7.9/10

Key improvements to the Sportage have made Kia's second best seller even better again, with more safety and a nicer ride the net result. There are plenty of variants to choose from, too.

Our pick is between the Si Premium in petrol or diesel - the AWD oiler is great if you have distance to cover, while the petrol powered car will be lighter and cheaper to maintain if you do your best work around town.

Do the changes to the Kia Sportage for 2018 change your opinion of the car? Let us know in the comments below.


Fiat 500X6.8/10

The 500X is a fun-looking alternative to the various options available from everyone else and is - overall - better to drive than its Renegade twin. 

It packs a very good safety package which you can't ignore but does lose points on the warranty and servicing regime. But it's also built to take four adults in comfort, which not every car in the segment can boast.

Would you choose the Fiat 500X over one its better-known competitors? Tell us in the comments section below.

Design

Kia Sportage8/10

We're big fans of the Sportage's stylishly bold looks that are proportionate to its size, and thankfully Kia's designers haven't mucked about too much with an already good design.

For the exterior, the front end has been lightly massaged with a new grille design, while the HID headlights on the GT-Line have been dropped in favour of a full LED cluster. 

The fog lamp apertures on the Si and Si Premium have also been redone with sharper lines for more masculine look or, as Kia says, a bit more menace. They also now score LED daytime running lamps across the lineup.

Out back, the tail-light arrays have been tweaked, while the lower bumper has also been tidied up to better match with the chrome trim, as well. The GT-Line's rear faux skid plate has been changed, too.

New wheel designs have been added in all three sizes (17-, 18- and 19-inch in size) as well. Steel Grey is a new colour.

Interior wise, photos will reveal nothing has changed from the 2016 facelift, save for the addition of updated multimedia systems across the range and redesigned steering wheel. Interior dimensions were increased when the PE model was launched in 2016.


Fiat 500X7/10

Look, I like the 500X, but I know why people don't. It's clearly a 500X in the way a Mini Countryman is a Mini. It looks like a 500, but get closer and you see the difference. It's chubby like a $10 weekend market Bhudda statue and has great big googly eyes like Mr Magoo. I find this endearing, my wife does not. The looks aren't the only thing she doesn't like.

The cabin is a bit more restrained and I quite like the band of colour stretching across the dash. The 500X is meant to be a bit more grown up than the 500, so there's a proper dash, more sensible design choices but it still has the big buttons, perfect for the meaty fingers of people who won't be buying this car.

Practicality

Kia Sportage8/10

Again, there are no changes to the packaging of Kia's clever little mid-size SUV. If you ever idly wonder 'how many seats does a Kia Sportage have?', the answer is just five.

Storage spaces are plentiful and clever in the Sportage, with two cup holders in the centre console, room for larger bottles in all four doors, as well as a pair of cup holders in the centre rear armrest. 

A pair of ISOFIX baby seat mounts are fitted to each of the rear outboard seats, but the centre rear sash belt is mounted in the ceiling, and it needs to be disconnected if you want to make the most of the large cargo space. It's a pain, to be honest, and it takes away from the car's otherwise good practicality.

The 60/40 split rear seats – which offer plenty of rear legroom even with the front seats ratcheted back - can't be dropped via switches in the rear cargo area, but they do slap down quickly and firmly with the pull of a lever on the sides of the rear seats to increase luggage capacity. 

There is 466 litres of boot space with the seats up – more than the sales-leading Mazda CX-5 – and 1455 litres of boot size in the full-flat position. Boot space dimensions remain the same.

The base Sportage does miss out on a few items that are on the higher grade cars, like an electronic handbrake, while the top-shelf GT Line gets an inductive wireless phone charging tray (Qi).

A cargo net and tie-down hooks can be found in the cargo area of the SLi and above models, and there's a full-sized spare underneath the boot floor on every model. There are also LED lights in the cabin throughout the range.

Despite the Sportage being a medium SUV in size, it fits four adults easily, and three across the rear at a pinch. The driving position is slightly higher than expected, but it's still well suited to both short and tall drivers. 

Controls for commonly-used systems, like the illumination controls for the dashboard, fall easily to hand, and aren't buried in the menu in the multimedia system.

New multimedia systems feature throughout, with a larger 8.0-inch screen for all models except for the base Si (it gets a 7.0-inch screen, but no CD player – what, you haven't heard of an MP3 player?), while all models can be teamed with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also digital radio in the top spec car, along with smart adaptive cruise control.


Fiat 500X7/10

At just 4.25 metres, the 500X isn't big, but makes the most of what it's got. The boot impresses at 350 litres and with the seats down, I think you could reasonably expect to triple that figure, though Fiat doesn't have an official number that I can find. For added Italian feel, you can tip the passenger seat forward to get really long things in, like a Billy bookshelf flat pack from Ikea.

Rear seat passengers sit high and upright meaning leg and kneeroom are maximised and with that tall roof, you won't scrape your head. 

The doors each have a small bottle holder for a total of four and Fiat has got serious about cupholders - the 500X now has four.

Price and features

Kia Sportage8/10

If you're currently asking yourself: 'Hmm. How much is a Kia Sportage?' The answer now is: 'Well, a little more expensive than before.'

The Sportage has jumped in price across the board, thanks mainly to the addition of new standard driver aids like auto emergency braking (AEB) and lane keep assist. Previously, these systems were only available aboard the top-spec GT Line.

Looking at all the Kia Sportage models, the entry level Si now costs $29,990 (up $1000) and its standard features include cloth seats, 17-inch alloys, reversing sensors and reversing camera (with moving guidelines), fog lights, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, an updated 7.0-inch multimedia touch screen with Bluetooth and streaming, three 12-volt plugs and a USB port.

You can access your iPhone or Android equivalent via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too.

A diesel version of the Si – complete with a new eight-speed auto and standard all-wheel-drive – will cost $35,390, an increase of $1400.

The Si Premium adds satellite navigation, front parking sensors, LED running lights, 18-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio and JBL premium sound system with eight speakers. The petrol version has an RRP of $32,390 (up $1400) and the diesel is $37,690.

There is a drive away price on the Si Premium of $31,990 and $37,390. If you ask nicely, you might also get a keener price on the other models in your price range.

The SLi petrol will cost you $36,790 (up $2100) and adds gadgets like an auto dimming rear view mirror, front sensors, LED DRLs, extra chrome trim, LED rear lights, electric handbrake, auto up on passenger front window, a 4.2-inch TFT dash screen, sat nav and automatic wipers. 

Diesel adds $5400 for a new total of $42,190 (an increase of $2500).

The price for the top of the range 2.4-litre Sportage GT-Line, meanwhile, is $44,790 (up $1300) or $47,690 (up $1700) in diesel form. It's well equipped, with leather seats, 19-inch alloys, AEB, lane departure warning, an automatic tailgate, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, as well as gadgets like LED headlights and fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, GPS sat nav, vented and heated powered seats, a sunroof and park assist.

If you're looking for a particular colour, there are a few, including Clear White as standard, Steel Grey, Sparkling Silver, Fiery Red and Mercury Blue, while Snow White Pearl and Cherry Black are exclusive to GT-Line. All colours except Clear White add $520 to the price. Looking for orange or gold like in previous generations of the Sportage? Can't help, I'm afraid.


Fiat 500X7/10

I drove the Pop Star, which is the second of the now-two model "regular" range, the other being the, er, Pop. I drove a Special Edition in 2018 and it's not clear if it is Special as there's also an Amalfi Special edition. Anyway.

The $30,990 (plus on-road costs) Pop Star has 17-inch alloys, six-speaker Beats-branded stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, sat nav, auto headlights and wipers, leather shifter and steering wheel and a space-saver spare.

The Beats-branded stereo speakers are supplied with noise from FCA's UConnect on a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The same system is in a Maserati, don't you know. Offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, UConnect loses points by shrinking the Apple interface into a lurid red frame. Android Auto properly fills the screen, for some reason which is ironic given Apple owns the Beats brand.

Engine & trans

Kia Sportage7/10

Three engine specifications are available across the Kia Sportage range – which, if a friend asks 'where is the Kia Sportage built?', is made in Ulsan, South Korea.

The base 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine in the Si and SLi has been retained, which is a bit of a surprise – we half expected a more modern direct-injection unit to be subbed in. The engine specs of the base 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine in the Si and SLi are starting to show their age. 

It pushes out 114kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm, and is backed by a six-speed automatic that drives the front wheels

Kia's common rail direct injection 2.0-litre turbo diesel specs, meanwhile, are 136kW at 4000rpm, while its 400Nm of torque is available from as low as 1750rpm. Its horsepower is available across the range.

Its new eight-speed auto is linked to a front-biased all wheel drive system that can send 40 per cent of torque to the rear wheels for extra 4WD traction.

The top grade GT-Line's engine size is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, and sports ratings of 135kW at 6000rpm and torque specs of 237Nm at 4000rpm. It uses a six-speed auto and is only available with AWD. It's not offered with an LPG conversion from the factory.

Towing capacity of the 2.4-litre motor is 1500kg, the 2.0-litre petrol can tow 1600kg, while the diesel can move 1900kg of braked trailer; we will do a towing review soon, but it'll be fine with a small van or boat behind it.

There is no manual transmission available.

Curious about the diesel vs petrol sales breakdown? Kia Australia says the split is 35 per cent diesel, 65 per cent petrol. 

If you are wondering if the Kia Sportage uses a timing belt or chain, all variants of the engine use the latter. A chain is preferable to a timing belt as it gives a longer life.

When it comes to diesel problems, clutch problems or transmission problems, the Sportage has been a good performer since the latest generation launched in 2016. A JD Power reliability rating study ranks it well, with few problems, complaints, issues or common faults. Check out our Kia Sportage problems page for more.

Oil type and capacity varies with engine.


Fiat 500X7/10

Fiat's rather excellent 1.4-litre turbo MultiAir does duty under the stubby bonnet, making 103kW and 230Nm. Rather less excellent is the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which sends power through the front wheels only.

It's rated to tow a 1200kg braked trailer and 600kg unbraked.

Fuel consumption

Kia Sportage7/10

From a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 7.9 litres per 100km, we saw a best combined fuel economy figure on the dash of 10.1L/100km over 100km in the 2.0-litre petrol Si Premium.

Our diesel test, meanwhile, returned a best combined fuel economy mileage figure of 7.2L/100km over 150km, versus a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 6.8L/100km.

The 2.4-litre engine is claimed to return a combined fuel economy figure of 8.5L/100km.

All Kia Sportage models have a fuel tank capacity of 62 litres, while the weight of the car varies between 1532kg for the 2.0-litre FWD, 1642kg for the 2.4-litre AWD and 1736kg for the AWD diesel.


Fiat 500X6/10

Fiat rather optimistically suggest you'll get a combined cycle figure of 5.7L/100km but try as I might, I couldn't do better than 11.2L/100km. What's worse, it demands 98RON fuel, so it's not the cheapest car to run. This figure us consistent with past weeks in the 500X and no, I wasn't thrashing it.

Driving

Kia Sportage8/10

Kia has taken the opportunity to further tweak the ride and handling of the Sportage to better suit our roads.

The steering gear ratio has very slightly changed, along with new bushes in the front MacPherson strut suspension and front sub-frame tweaks. The Sportage's German-made ZF Sachs dampers have been extensively reworked, as well, to give it a more comfortable ride. 

There is a little bit of difference in all three powertrains, too; there are lighter springs for the FWDs, heavier ones in the rear suspension for the AWD, and three unique different shock tunes for all three engines.

The Sportage is built for a life around town, and the lighter, front-drive, petrol-powered cars are perfect for it. 

The 2.0-litre engine gets thrashy when acceleration is needed up hills, though, with the auto occasionally confused by which ratio to pick and hold. 

Despite its age, the engine is still a very smooth and tractable unit when coasting around on light throttle, even though its 0-100 performance figures won't disturb a hot hatch.

The 2.4-litre engine fares better, though its AWD drivetrain does take the top edge of its ability to nip up hills.

The Sportage's diesel is light on its feet, even with the addition of the heavier AWD/eight-speed auto drivetrain. It's also impressively quiet, letting minimal road noise into the cabin. 

The suspension changes are small but meaningful, and it's the sum of a few small changes that make up the whole.

This is not an offroad or 4x4 review; after all, the capability of a road-going SUV in brown dirt is minimal at best. Its ground clearance of 172mm, for example, is about 50mm less than that of a Subaru XV, and Kia doesn't even suggest a safe wading depth for the Sportage.

Overall, the newly tweaked Sportage is a comfortable, stable and simple car to drive, with few of the compromises that sometimes come with a taller SUV.


Fiat 500X6/10

Again, I shouldn't like the 500X but I really don't mind it. It's flawed, which might be why.

The dual-clutch transmission is dumber than a box of loose cogs, lurching from start and looking the other way when you expect it to shift. We know the engine is a good one and I think part of the reason it's so thirsty is the confused way the transmission goes about its business. I'd love to drive a manual to see what it's like.

The 500X initially feels worse than its Jeep Renegade sibling-under-the-skin, which is quite an achievement. Part of that is to do with the ride, which is very choppy below 60km/h. The first 500X I drove wallowed about but this one is a bit tauter, which would be good if you weren't punished with this bounciness.

The seats themselves comfortable and the interior is a good place to hang out. It's reasonably quiet, too, which is at odds with the old-school silliness of its conduct. It feels like Labrador let out of after day kept inside.

And that's where the car I shouldn't like is a car I do like - I really like that it feels like you're on Roman cobblestones, the type that make your knees hurt when you walk on them for a day. The steering wheel is too fat and is at a weird angle, but you kind of square up to it and drive the car like your life depends on it. You have to take it by the scruff, correct the shifts with the paddles and show it who's boss.

Obviously, that's not for everyone. If you drive it really gently, it's a very different experience, but that means going slowly everywhere, which is no fun at all and not at all Italian.

Safety

Kia Sportage8/10

The base spec Si, Si Premium and SLi have all gained vital electronic safety features including auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, lane keep assist which works with the steering to keep the Sportage in a lane, and downhill speed control. 

Blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic parking is available in the top-spec Sportage Platinum GT-Line.

All Sportages also offer six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, as well as front and rear parking sensors (rear only on Si) and a reversing camera. All cars also have full-sized spares.

A 'variance submission' has been submitted to ANCAP for the updated Sportage, with Kia hoping to receive a top five-star safety rating from ANCAP.


Fiat 500X8/10

Out of the box, you get seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, high and low speed AEB, active cruise control, rollover stability, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot sensor and rear cross traffic alert. That's not bad for a $30,000 car full stop, let alone a Fiat.

There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors for baby seats. 

The 500X scored a five-star ANCAP rating in December 2016.

 

Ownership

Kia Sportage9/10

Kia's seven-year warranty is still among the best in the automotive business, and it includes roadside assist and a free first service at three months.

Capped-price servicing covers the warranty period, as well, with $419 the lowest and $726 the highest service costs over four years for the diesel-powered cars, with a seven-year total of $3695; that's an average cost of $528 per service. Make sure your owner's manual gets ticked.

The petrol engine program costs between $306 and $711 per service. The majority of services are under $400, with seven years of maintenance costs equalling an average of $420-ish, for a total of $2942.

Resale value for most Korean brands is still not as good as some of their Japanese rivals; a 2015 Sportage Platinum diesel, for example, will have lost about 30 per cent of its new value if trading in, or about 12 per cent on a private sale.

Waiting time on new cars is minimal, according to Kia.


Fiat 500X6/10

Fiat offers a three-year/150,000km warranty, along with roadside assist for the same period. It's not great as more manufacturers shift to five years. 

Service intervals arrive once a year or 15,000km. There is no fixed or capped-price servicing program for the 500X.