Mitsubishi ASX VS Kia Sportage
- Good safety package
- Interior space
- Weak engine/transmission combination
- Iffy ride and handling
- Feeling old
- Safety upgrades always welcome
- Eight-speed auto in diesel
- Styling changes left to a minimum
- Middle belt in second row stashed in roof
- Bad glare from GT Line steering wheel trim
- Prices have gone up
You can never be completely sure about the age of a car, but I reckon the Mitsubishi ASX has taken over as the elder statescar after the demise of Holden's Captiva. The old Holden was commissioned by the pharaoh Khufu while the ASX arrived a few years later... in 2009.
Over the last near-decade, the ASX has consistently sold without any major changes. Evolution has been the name of the game (ironically), with now-annual running changes to the ASX to try and keep it fresh.
The compact SUV segment is enormously competitive, with new entrants squeezing the ASX harder than ever. Amazingly, despite being ready for the pension, it still manages to post excellent sales figures when by rights it should be languishing near the bottom - old cars are old news.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It might be as old as the hills but the ASX keeps going. It's tempting to say it's on life support, but it still does the job, and with the new ADAS package, there's still life in the old dog. It's also cheaper than before, although why you'd want to spend money on the Exceed when you have everything that's worthwhile in the ES ADAS or LS is beyond me. As for the pick of the range, I'd go for the LS - it has the nicer interior trim and better seats.
The ASX will be with us for a while yet - as the newest member of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, whatever was on the way has been delayed. So for now, the ASX is the roomiest, cheapest and among the best-equipped in its class. It's just a shame it has to be so boring.
Does the ASX do what you need or is the old-timer too far off the pace? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
The early cars were a study in minimalism and looked so bare they could have come straight out of an early Grand Theft Auto game, such was the lack of detailing. These later models feature lashings of chrome and a far less timid approach, on the nose at least. The profile has been the same for the better part of a decade, with just the occasional addition like new wheels or wing mirrors.
The 18-inch wheels give the car a good solid stance and the paint looks pretty good these days. But that's pretty much it. The ASX is a box on wheels with doors that clang when you shut them.
Inside has once again had a going-over. The last proper update to the cabin made it a much better place to be. The part-suede interior of the LS is the one to go for, the Exceed's leather merely adds to the overall cheap-feel. The ASX is entirely unpretentious - no soft plastics, no attempt to cover gaps or blanks (the fifth cupholder is now covered by a dodgy-looking cap) and the switchgear is a mix-and-match arrangement to get the job done. Nothing wrong with that, but it might leave an aesthete twitchy.
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.
Straight up, I'll answer a common question - how many seats? The ASX is as near as you'll get to a five-seater in this segment. Interior photos show generous interior dimensions, its boxy exterior design delivering a good size cabin.
Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders and a decent-sized central bin with a lid on top doubling as an armrest. Rear seat passengers miss out on many things - there's just one seatback pocket but there are two cupholders in the armrest.
Boot space starts with 393 litres, which is near the top of the class. If it's maximum luggage capacity you're after, drop the 60/40 split-fold rear seat and you'll have 1193 litres.
Despite looking like it's on stilts, the ground clearance is 205mm, which is significantly higher than the segment's low-rider, the Mazda CX-3. As you might expect, if you're this low-slung - and without 4 wheel drive, off-road ability is compromised.
The 4.4m long ASX's turning circle is a small-ish 10.6 metres.
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.
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.
Price and features
The MY19 upgrade - one of many over the ASX's long and fruitful life - has brought some changes to the price list and a rejig of the available models. There's a new entry-level model, the ES, the mid-point LS and a range-topping Exceed. All pricing is RRP and how much you pay is between you and your dealer. The drive-way price is helpfully listed on the Mitsubishi website, however. Our model comparison features the full price range.
A big change for MY19 is the end of the all-wheel drive (AWD) for the ASX, with just front-wheel drive on offer. So no more AWD option, meaning if you're after an off-road review, you're out of luck.
The new entry-level ES means it's now $1510 cheaper than before for the cheapest ASX.
The ASX now starts at $23,490 for an ES with a manual gearbox and $25,490 for the CVT automatic transmission. The value proposition is pretty reasonable - you get 18-inch alloys, four-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, halogen headlights, leather gear shifter and steering wheel, power folding rear vision mirrors, cruise control, power windows all round, cloth trim and a space saver spare tyre.
The ES ADAS is $26,990 and is essentially the ES with a safety pack, which you can read about in the safety section.
Moving on to the second of the three models, the LS starts at $27,990 and is auto-only - so no manual transmission. To the ES spec you can add keyless entry and start, the 'ADAS' safety package, rear parking sensors, fog lights, auto high beam, auto headlights and wipers and partial leather seats with fake suede inserts (which are rather good, actually).
The $30,990 Exceed adds leather, two speakers to make the speaker number six as well as a sunroof.
The ES and LS comes with a four-speaker sound system while the top of the range Exceed scores six speakers. All of them have the same 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. What is standard across the range is iPhone and Android integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto respectively. The new screen looks good and the updated software is easy to use, but it's not very well integrated - for instance, Apple CarPlay's clock disappears off the edge of the screen.
There is no sat nav (hmmm) or CD player (far enough, it's 2018), but there is digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a baffling screen that displays your GPS co-ordinates.
There are seven colours available - black, 'Lightning Blue', 'Titanium' (grey, obviously), red, 'Sterling Silver' and 'Starlight' all cost an extra $590 while white is a freebie. Not surprisingly, orange and brown are off the menu.
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.
Engine & trans
The ASX's model simplification extends to the drivetrain. Gone is AWD and diesel, leaving just one petrol engine. The engine specs read fairly adequately - the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder delivers 110kW/197Nm. As with the rest of the segment, engine size and power seems to be legislated to almost these exact specifications.
The 0-100 acceleration performance is best described as leisurely and noisy. The motor, codenamed 4B11, uses a chain rather than timing belt, which should help keep service costs down and improve long-term reliability. The 4B11 is capable of producing a lot more horsepower, but sadly the version of the engine in the Evo X is not available.
On the upside, this simplicity means no turbo problems or diesel problems and in this unstressed spec, engine problems are unlikely to occur with regular servicing.
Power reaches the front wheels through Mitsubishi's ubiquitous continuously variable transmission (CVT). LS buyers can choose a less than bang-up-to-date five-speed manual, but that's probably down to the fact almost nobody buys a manual.
If you're interested in the tank size, oil type and weight, the owners manual lists these things. The CVT seems a hardy if unspectacular unit, so gearbox problems appear unusual in my sweep of the usual internet forums. The CVT's abilities, however, are another thing entirely.
Towing capacity is rated at 750kg unbraked and 1300kg braked.
Just in case you're wondering, there is no LPG (or gas) option.
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.
Mitsubishi says the ASX's fuel economy figures are 7.6L/100km of 91 RON petrol. Fuel tank capacity is listed at 63 litres. If you can eke out this sticker figure mileage you could squeeze out nearly 800km of range. We found its real-world fuel consumption is closer to 11.5L/100km in a mix of city and highway driving.
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.
The ASX is the archetypal appliance on wheels. It's one of the least involving cars you will ever drive. The inconsistently-weighted steering completely insulates you from the road. It seems to need an extra quarter turn to do anything and that gets tired pretty quickly.
The CVT auto is rudimentary at best, completely outclassed by that in the Honda HR-V. The pronounced rubber band feel is something that takes some time to get used to and requires a keen eye on the speedo.
The all-around independent suspension promises much but delivers the workmanlike performance of a bored politician who knows they're resigning before the next election. Sharp bumps resonate through the cabin and body control is lacking - turn the wheel left to right and it ties itself up in knots. But once you're up to speed, it's a comfortable rider.
The safety systems seem to work reasonably well, although we did find the reverse cross traffic alert to have longer range sensors than the Starship Enterprise.
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.
If you need to load up a baby car seat, there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX anchors.
In the interests of transparency and for an opportunity to self-deprecate for your amusement, about a year ago I wrote that the ASX was missing advanced safety systems and was unlikely to see them anytime soon.
That update is called the ADAS package, optional on the ES and the same features are standard on the Exceed. ADAS includes lane departure warning, lane change assist, forward AEB and rear cross traffic alert. You also get auto wipers and headlights and rear parking sensors.
Irritatingly, the LS loses blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert with no apparent way to get them on that spec. The Exceed's package also picks up automatic high beam.
The ASX has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, awarded in 2014.
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.
The ASX now has a five-year/100,000km warranty with one year of roadside assist in the form of membership to your state or territory's motoring organisation (eg RACV, RACT, NRMA). The three-year capped price servicing regime also includes extending that membership another 12 months.
Each service will cost you $240 which isn't especially cheap nor is it overly-pricey. Annoyingly, the car demands to be returned to the dealer at the 1000km mark for a free look-over.
A quick search reveals an absence of common problems, faults or issues. It seems a pretty solid sort of car, with few common complaints from owners. Resale value is heavily dependent on the model, with early cars not doing as well as later updates.
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.