In a wave of new crossovers, the Kia Sportage has been conspicuously absent.
Niro, Soul, Telluride, Seltos, Sorento. Kia has evolved, transformed and expanded its crossover lineup over the past few years, with one notable exception — the Sportage. That’s not to say the current Sportage is ancient by any means, as we first saw the fourth-generation model hit the market back in 2016. Still, SUVs are red hot and the world has moved on by leaps and bounds, even in the past five years. Now, the automaker will finally reveal the dramatically updated fifth-generation model in South Korea in the coming weeks, but not before releasing a few sneak peek images.
If the new Sorento was any indication, we already knew that the 2022 Kia Sportage would look virtually nothing like any of its predecessors. With these teasers, it’s perfectly clear a major overhaul is imminent, with Kia taking the same route to the U.S. market as its last major overhauls, including the Sorento and the Carnival MPV. Namely, the new Sportage will launch in Europe next, then (likely) reach American shores sometime next year.
While the all-electric Kia EV6 is the most radical shift on the horizon, the company’s more conventional compact SUV plays in a critical class for every automaker. The Sportage is currently Kia’s third best-selling model in the U.S. behind the Sorento and Telluride, and Kia’s efforts to update the six-year-old design could peel some buyers away from the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. To that end, the company’s Global Design Center chief and senior vice president Karim Habib leans into a new “Opposites United” design language. “Taking inspiration from an ethos we created where nature meets technology, the all-new Sportage challenges the norm with an adventurous and contemporary exterior and a carefully conceived, beautifully detailed interior,” he says.
All-new LED taillights, a much sharper and streamlined front fascia, and a set of part-Stinger, part-EV6 taillights give off a bolder outside appearance than the current, more rounded Sportage. As for the inside, the design team’s sketch seems to indicate a large, single piece of curved glass for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. On size and shape, it looks like Kia brought that idea over from the EV6, and if it is indeed the same system then you’ll see two discrete displays under that single piece of glass — one in front of the driver, and one over the center stack.
What about new engines?
Powertrains? At this point, not much is certain, but the Sportage’s Hyundai Tucson cousin should shed some light there. Odds are, Kia will adopt the same “Smartstream” line of gasoline engines, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 liters, depending on the market. In the U.S., the Tucson uses a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine putting out 187 horsepower for the standard models. There’s also a hybrid model backed up by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine managing a combined 226 horsepower — a powertrain that may make its way into the new Sportage. While global markets may see a turbodiesel version, we Americans almost definitely won’t see that option.
We’ll still have to wait awhile for U.S.-specific details, but there you have it. What do you think of the 2022 Kia Sportage so far? If you need any proof that the Sportage has just been out there for awhile now, here’s a look at a snowy review from 2016: