By Auto Trends Auto Editor

2017-Kia-SportageFor 2017, the compact-sized Kia Sportage crossover is redesigned for this model year with a sleeker new look, more interior room, more technology and now offers additional standard equipment. The Sportage is available in a number of models and trim lines and even the base model is superbly equipped. The new Sportage is the first Kia to offer UVO3, featuring Android Auto, Apple CarPlay (Check for availability), 14 telematics services, and eight GB of music storage and all free of charge. Prices for the Kia Sportage range from $25,095 for the front wheel drive LX / EX FWD, $27,295; EX AWD/AWD Premium, $30,595 – $33,995 plus taxes, fees and shipping.

The new Sportage arrives with two engines and a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive with a six-speed automatic transmission. On the base LX and EX, the base spec engine is a direct injection 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder unit with 181 hp and 175 lb/ft of torque. On the two, top-line models, the EX and SX, a powerful 2.0-litre twin turbo four-cylinder with 237 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque in AWD form provides the juice. Good news is that both the 2.4-litre and 2.0-litre run on regular fuel and can tow up to 2,000 lb, when properly equipped. Transmission is via a six-speed automatic gearbox. Kia’s optional Dynamax intelligent AWD system, is also available on every trim line and features a 50/50 locking centre differential. The Dynamax system optimizes traction needs for all road and weather conditions by using special sensors to analyze predict and activate road conditions and vehicle behaviour

The new Sportage arrives with a very upmarket cabin that’s very impressive enough to be top of the class in its segment. There are high quality soft-touch materials in abundance, and well finished tight panel gaps on the doors, dash and other interior panels. The equipment roster is also high. The top-of-the-line SX model provides such features as: heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, piano black trim along the centre console, aluminum alloy pedals and stitching on the dashboard. Instrumentation includes a larger eight-inch capacitive touchscreen for climate, navigation and entertainment and connectivity features. The SX also arrives with a premium 320-watt Harman/Kardon audio system with eight speakers. Storage is also generous with a dual-level cargo floor and increased from cargo capacity from 739 litres to 869 litres behind the second row seats. A low lift-over height, remote opening and closing “Smart Power” liftgate, which automatically opens when the key fob is within a metre of the vehicle also makes for easier loading and unloading. We tested a mid- range EX Model which also come well equipped with such niceties as: Dynamax AWD, Smart key with push button start, 7 0-inch LCD audio display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 10-Way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather seats and heated steering wheel.

On the road, the fourth-generation Sportage model is much improved, the Kia feels tighter, more engaged and ride and handling have also been improved immensely. Steering reactions are quicker and the brakes seem more powerful. It is hard to fault the Kia Sportage, with its good looks and versatile roominess, the Kia Sportage is great choice for families. Prices for the top tier Kia Sportage may sound like a lot, but the Sportage’s powertrain, equipment, luxury and fit and finish mean it has pushed the envelope to into the near premium class in this very competitive sector. Highly recommended for families everywhere.

2017 Kia Sportage priced from $25,095 – $33,995 plus taxes, fees and shipping.