What do you think of the new Kia Sportage?
You have to hand it to Kia — love or hate their styling, they are at least trying to step in a new and bold direction. From the new K5 sedan to the Sorento crossover and now this — the next-gen Kia Sportage — angles, creases and distinctive lines are the name of the game.
To that end, the front end immediately draws your eye into what Kia calls “Opposites United” design language. The Tiger Nose grille is still an important piece of that philosophy, while it’s flanked by boomerang-style daytime running lights that come in from below the hood and cut into the lower grille. Moving back from the front, the side profile also loses any rounded or bulbous form, and stretches the glass rearward from the A-pillar almost back to the tailgate.
Check out the back — it’s not any less daring.
Follow the chrome brightwork back along the beltline as it kicks up past the C-pillar, and you’ll definitely notice the updated rear design of the new Kia Sportage as well. Those taillights mix a bit of Stinger (with the way they jut into the rear quarter panels) with the EV6, as that also has a full-width taillight design. Unlike the outgoing car, the taillights are integrated with the reverse and signal lights. The lower fascia looks less busy as a result, though the silver-on-black plastic does create another distinct visual cue to take in.
Take a look inside, and the new Kia Sportage is pretty much just as radical a departure as the exterior. Not only is there a new steering wheel bearing the brand’s updated logo, but there are also two digital displays. Like the Sorento, this new model also ditches the traditional gear selector for a rotary dial affair, making more room for the engine start and drive mode buttons. While you’d normally expect the center stack to have all the climate controls, that’s weirdly not the case here.
See that group of buttons sticking out above the cupholders? Those are the buttons for your heated and ventilated seats, as well as the heated steering wheel. It’s a smart move for Kia to group them all together, but it does place the controls for both sides farther away from the driver. That’s a choice that will likely take some adjustment — especially those like me who like all the driver’s side controls as close to hand as possible. Regardless of where the actual switchgear is located, the noticeable step up in materials and overall design is a welcome change from the old car.
Kia did not reveal any specifics on powertrains, options or pricing just yet. With Hyundai and Kia’s cars, it’s usually a solid strategy to check the sibling model — in this case, the newly revamped Hyundai Tucson — as a sign of what to expect. The fourth-generation Tucson uses the automaker’s new “Smartstream” engines, so I’d expect the new Kia Sportage to do the same. It’s also worth looking to the larger Sorento for clues, which suggests a more rugged X-Line variant in addition to the traditional lineup. I wouldn’t rule out a hybrid, either, though we should get more specific details closer to the car’s global launch later this year.