2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel review

Kia’s back in the mid-size SUV limelight with the new fifth-generation Sportage. Is it everything we could have hoped for?

What we love
  • Beautifully presented and tech-laden cabin
  • Cavernous space in first and second rows, and the boot
  • Diesel powertrain is very strong

What we don’t
  • The screen is cool but… So. Many. Fingerprints
  • Sub-par sound system
  • Annoying active safety warnings turn back on after restart

Introduction

Kia’s successor to its fourth-generation Sportage mid-size SUV couldn’t have come at a better time. Having stuck around since its 2015 debut, the Sportage looked decidedly tired with mediocre design and old-hat tech.

Undoubtedly part of the reason why it fell behind in the sales race last year was due to the arrivals of the newer Hyundai Tucson and Mitsubishi Outlander through 2021, burgeoning with updated tech and features. Meanwhile, segment stalwarts such as the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 carried on with model-year updates to great effect.

But the new fifth-generation Kia Sportage is now on the ground in Australia, and it’s time for the newbie to shine.

Most notably on initial impression it scores a bold new look both at the front and back, and has grown in respect to its predecessor. The interior, especially on the top-spec GT-Line variant, is highlighted by a huge curved display made up of two 12.3-inch screens.

Though there are four model grades to the Sportage range, we’ve gone straight to the top to find out just how far the $54,990 drive-away 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel has come.

Excellent news for buyers is it comes fully loaded from the factory with no other options to add on top, aside from some $520 paint options. The tester depicted in this review is painted in the smart Vesta Blue.

It’s fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that comes mated to an all-wheel drivetrain, and is only available with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Other hallmark equipment items exclusive to the GT-Line include 19-inch alloy wheels, leather/suede upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, bi-LED headlights, wireless smartphone charging, and a panoramic sunroof.

The spec sheet certainly impresses, but we saddled up with a GT-Line diesel over the Christmas period to see how the Sportage fares in the real world.

Key details 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel
Price (MSRP) $52,370
Colour of test car Vesta Blue ($520)
Price as tested $55,510 (drive-away)
Rivals Hyundai Tucson | Toyota RAV4 | Ford Escape

Inside

Hop inside the large cabin and – even on initial impression – it’s an impressively presented space with a large screen array and purposeful design elements. The seats are part leather, part suede and the overall look is modern.

Materials use in the front row is good, though between the piano black centre console and wide touchscreen, the interface gets covered in fingerprints quick-smart. This is especially evident in full sun as sunlight shines through the windscreen and makes everything look grimy.

However, comfort is high in both front and second rows, with excellent adjustability between the steering wheel and seats to get a high-perch driving position that affords good visibility through the cabin. Space in the second row is commodious – there was never cause for concern for this 6ft 4in tester in terms of headroom, legroom or room to stow your feet.

Ambience in the back seat is marginally worse than in the front – the windows aren’t auto down, and some of the materials feels a bit sub-par for the top-spec variant. There are handy USB outlets nestled in the side of the front seats to charge devices and a nifty coat hook on the back of the headrests. Storage in the second row is good – there are map pockets and door card slots to store large bottles.

Back in the first row, the seat is a great shape and features both heating and ventilating – though I noticed an odd phenomenon at night time where the driver’s-side seat controls wouldn’t light up like the passenger’s. As well, I’m sure there’s a way to push the headrest back, though I couldn’t find it. It was slightly too far forward for me and annoyed at times.

Storage is a highlight up front, with a large centre console bin between driver and passenger, a configurable cubby beside the shifter that can switch between cupholders and a large tray, and long door pockets that’ll eat up bigger items. There’s also a tray underneath the dash that contains a Qi-certified wireless phone charger, though it doubles as a handy nook to store keys and spare change.

It’s a quiet and refined interior to spend time in, no matter whether you’re headed around the corner to the shops or further afield on the freeway on a road trip.

For the latter, the boot contains a minimum of 543L of space with the rear seats up. Fold them down and that capacity swells to 1829L. An electric boot release paves the way to use the space and can be triggered from the driver’s seat too.

2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel
Seats Five
Boot volume 543L seats up / 1829L seats folded
Length 4660mm
Width 1865mm
Height 1660mm
Wheelbase 2755mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

Kia has made great strides in its infotainment systems over the last 18 months and – of all its product – I think the current software is best viewed on the Sportage. Fingerprints aside, the wide touchscreen displays content beautifully and menu systems are in a nicely laid out manner. Though it serves no real functional purpose, the curved 12.3-inch display looks very cool and is a neat design highlight to brag about to Toyota RAV4 owners. It does envelop the driver without excluding the passenger.

The map designs look fantastic and the navigation between various functions is a breeze. Those not interested in Kia’s native system can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto through a cable.

A thin touch panel below the main infotainment unit switches between air-conditioning controls and media playback controls. It’s a straightforward process to switch between the two, though I wish they were kept separate anyhow for at-a-glance simplicity.

Sportage SX+ specification cars and above get an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo, though I wasn’t a fan of the system and it didn’t enthuse me to play tunes like you’d expect from a Harman Kardon unit. To try and enjoy songs you must have the volume all the way up, and back seat passengers complained of quiet outputs.


Safety and Technology

A full suite of active safety technology is available on every variant of the Kia Sportage, including the flagship GT-Line diesel. This includes autonomous emergency braking with junction support, lane-follow assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, electric parking brake, and a 360-degree camera.

A centre airbag is also fitted to the Sportage and should see the vehicle score a full five-star rating when it gets tested by ANCAP, though the new-generation Sportage remains unrated when this review published.

A neat technology feature I came to love on the Sportage was having the blind-spot camera feed show up inside the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster when you activate the indicator. It gives a quick confirmatory view of what’s beside you for merging into traffic.

2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel
ANCAP rating Unrated
Safety report Link to ANCAP report

Value for Money

The reason many opt for a Kia is its outstanding seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Each time you service a Kia at an official dealership, an additional year is added onto the car’s roadside assistance balance. Roadside assistance ceases after eight years.

Servicing intervals occur every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes standard. A capped-price servicing plan sees the cost to maintain this vehicle at $3672 over the course of Kia’s seven-year warranty. Averaged out over seven intervals, this costs $524 each visit, which is getting up there for a medium-size SUV. 

At a glance 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel
Warranty Seven years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $3672 (seven years)

Against Kia’s fuel consumption claim of 6.3L/100km (combined), our time on test with the car netted a 6.6L/100km result. The fuel tank takes 54L of diesel.

Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp

Fuel Usage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.3L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 6.6L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel tank size 54L

Driving

Powering the top-spec Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine. Outputs are rated at 137kW/416Nm, which are deployed to an all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The pairing is a perfect partnership in all situations. Shifts from the transmission are well-judged between changing throttle inputs and the gear changes themselves are comfortably smooth too.

The diesel powertrain is arguably the best of the three engines on offer in the model line-up, for me anyway. There’s a reassuring surge of torque that propels you along, whether you’re pushing for an overtake or getting up to speed in traffic around town. It is noticeably louder than a petrol engine car, though is still perfectly agreeable to live with day to day.

Touring inside the Sportage is great – the suspension tune travels beautifully over undulating surfaces and remains composed over potholes and road cracks. It’s also quiet and refined in terms of road and wind noise, aside from the aforementioned engine noises permeating the cabin.

What did annoy on tour was the car’s safety systems that beeped and pulled the car back into its lane. The overly sensitive system can be turned off in the car’s menu, though it won’t remember the settings the next time you get back in the car – it must be turned off every time.

The adaptive cruise control is well behaved for the most part, though does jerkily grab at the brakes when trying to slow down the car. It keeps good distances and speeds up to overtake if needed.

When things get more twisty, the Sportage rounds bends with confidence and the body is well controlled. The steering is of nice firm weight, though remains easily turned for quick manoeuvres around town. That said, the Sportage does have an annoyingly large 12.2m turning circle that makes swift three-point turns a bit cumbersome.

Key details 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 137kW @ 4000rpm
Torque 416Nm @ 2000-2750rpm
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Eight-speed torque convertor automatic
Power to weight ratio 78kW/t
Weight 1759kg (tare)
Tow rating 1900kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle 12.2m

Conclusion

Kia’s revitalised Sportage is now a strong choice in a hotly contested segment. It brings big advances in tech, space and design to the mid-size SUV segment in which you have to stand out to get noticed.

The Sportage experience is arguably best presented in GT-Line diesel format. The engine and transmission combo is powerful and smooth enough for all road situations, and the comfortable and well-kitted interior is a joy to spend time in, aside from some minor issues regarding choice of trim materials.

Despite the lack of an ANCAP rating as yet, its safety features are a confident boast to some outdated rivals, and passengers will remain comfy in an oversized cabin with excellent storage capacities.

On the whole, the Kia Sportage is destined for greatness, and we expect it to start shooting up the sales charts as a result.

The post 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel review appeared first on Drive.

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