- Doors and Seats
5 doors, 5 seats
2.0DT, 4 cyl.
- Engine Power
8 Spd Auto
7 Yr, Unltd KMs
- Ancap Safety
The Kia Sportage SX diesel may not be the cheapest variant in Kia’s Drive Car of the Year winning range, but it is the best value. Read on to find out why.
- Plenty of equipment for the money
- Class-leading safety equipment
- Roomy and refined
- Diesel engine option is not cheap
- Servicing costs are high
- Cloth trim on a close to $50K car on the road?
Is the Kia Sportage a good car?
The Kia Sportage range has 11 variants, beginning with the S FWD petrol manual at $32,445 plus on-road costs and stretching to the GT-Line diesel AWD auto at $52,370 plus on-road costs.
The variant we’re testing here is the 2022 Kia Sportage SX AWD diesel automatic, which is priced at $42,400 plus on-road costs. That means it is not the cheapest, but it is – in our opinion – the sweet spot in the Sportage range.
We will explain why as we go.
According to Kia’s drive-away calculator, the Sportage SX will cost $47,193 to park in your driveway using a metro Melbourne address in basic white, or $47,736 with any of Kia’s optional metallic paint colours.
What is the Kia Sportage like inside?
The Sportage SX’s interior is outfitted in black cloth just like the entry-level S, leaving leather trim to the more expensive SX+ and GT-Line variants.
The SX steps up above the base Sportage with an impressive 12.3-inch touchscreen display, and has digital instrumentation as well. It’s not the highly polished 12.3-inch driver instrument display that the expensive GT-Line gets, but it is jazzier than the standard fare ‘analog dials and an LCD screen’ that some other affordable mid-size SUVs offer. It adds a splash of colour to the cabin, along with brushed-metal highlights on the steering wheel, dashboard and doors.
Gloss or piano black is used on some surfaces, such as the console and window switch panel, and you get leather on the gearshifter and door armrests.
The driver’s seat has manual adjustments, as does the steering wheel, so there’s no need to compromise the driving position because all adjust over a generous range.
The Sportage SX does not have push-button start. Instead it requires the key be inserted into an ignition barrel and turned. At least then you don’t have the dilemma of where to put the remote while driving.
Below the central touchscreen is a second slimline touchscreen that alternates between dual-zone climate controls and audio controls. Below that again are two USB ports (one USB-A and one USB-C), and a 12V charging port ahead of the PRND automatic gear lever.
Like the S, the Sportage SX also has five blank buttons next to the gear lever to remind you of what you couldn’t afford (front seat heating and cooling, if you must know. Weirdly, the fifth switch is blank even on the top-spec GT-Line).
Behind the transmission lever is a drive-mode dial with Eco, Normal, Sport and Smart, which changes powertrain characteristics and the colours on the driver display to match.
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There are cupholders between the front seats that have spring-out catches to securely hold bottles of different sizes, and in each front door they’re big enough to take a water bottle.
The back seat has plenty of room for adults – leg, foot and head room, and the backrests can be reclined. It also has two air vents but no USB ports, and there are ISOFIX mounts in both outboard seats plus top tether points for all three. A fold-down central armrest has two cupholders, and there are seatback map pockets and door pockets on both sides.
The Sportage’s boot lid opens manually to reveal a boot with 543L of space, which can be expanded by folding the rear seats 60/40. The Sportage SX has remote releases for folding down the back seat, and all Sportage variants have full-size spare tyres.
The floor has two setting heights, which means there can be room to store items out of sight beneath, or you can prioritise load height above. The Sportage SX has a retractable cargo blind rather than a hard shelf.
|2022 Kia Sportage SX AWD diesel auto|
|Boot volume||543L seats up / 1829L seats folded|
How big is the screen in the Kia Sportage?
The Sportage SX gets a bigger, snazzier 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen compared to the downmarket 8.0-inch unit on the S base model. It has all the usual mod-cons, including satellite navigation, smartphone mirroring and digital radio.
The more basic unit in front of the driver houses digital dials for vehicle speed and engine speed, plus a fairly basic four-screen trip computer.
Kia claims the infotainment system has voice recognition, but that’s only if you have your smartphone hooked up. The SX does not have wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay like the base model – instead these require a USB cord.
Is the Kia Sportage a safe car?
This is arguably the Kia Sportage’s strong point. Kia has loaded the Sportage with active safety features right from the bottom of the range to the top. Standard features include the latest-generation autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert and assist, lane-keeping assist, active cruise control with intelligent speed limit assist, driver attention alert, plus safe exit assist.
Rear parking sensors are standard, as is a rear-view camera with moving guidelines, high-beam assist and dusk-sensing headlights. Rain-sensing wipers are also standard from the SX up.
The only other driver-assist safety features missing from the SX are blind-spot-view monitors, a surround-view monitor and park collision avoidance assist, all of which are GT-Line only. While all of those are nice to have, they’re not must-haves.
The Kia Sportage has not been crash-tested by the ANCAP independent safety body.
|2022 Kia Sportage SX AWD diesel auto|
How much does the Kia Sportage cost in Australia?
All Kia models come with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which includes eight years of roadside assist, renewed annually if you service at a Kia dealership.
Servicing costs on the Sportage SX diesel auto are capped at $1325 for three years and $2512 over five years, which is marginally more expensive than petrol variants. It’s also a lot more expensive than the class-leading Honda CR-V ($125 per service) and Toyota RAV4 ($230 per visit).
A comprehensive insurance quote we got for the Sportage SX came in under $1091 (35yo male living in Sydney with a clean record), which is around $100 cheaper than a similarly priced Toyota RAV4 GXL hybrid.
|At a glance||2022 Kia Sportage SX AWD diesel auto|
|Warranty||Seven years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1325 (3 years), $2512 (5 years)|
During our test drive of the Kia Sportage SX diesel auto, we recorded a fuel consumption of 5.8L/100km, which is actually under the official city/hwy combined-cycle claim of 6.3L/100km. At least 80 per cent of our mileage was on freeways commuting to and from work (a typical mix of 100km/h and bumper-to-bumper), so we’re impressed with the result. It gives us faith that a pure highway run might also deliver Kia’s claimed 5.4L/100km, and predominantly urban running might also come near to 7.7L/100km.
However, using this fuel efficiency as justification for spending $5400 more to get the SX diesel instead of the SX petrol is not a good idea – even if you allow $2000 for the AWD v FWD upgrade you also get. A 1.8L/100km fuel saving means it will be 94,000km before you see a dollar of saving. But that doesn’t take into account how much better this turbo diesel unit is to drive compared to the SX 2.0-litre petrol. More on that below.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.3L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||5.8L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||54L|
What is the Kia Sportage like to drive?
The Kia Sportage SX we tested here comes with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that has 137kW and 416Nm, and works in concert with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. It is available in all four Sportage model grades and is the best powertrain in the Sportage range, closely followed by the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol unit in the SX+ and GT-Line.
This turbo diesel engine makes the Sportage SX an easy performer around town, with the torque to get up to speed with traffic easily and accelerate quickly if needed.
The engine is producing peak torque from 2000–2750rpm, which is where most people spend their driving days, so the engine is always ready and willing to respond when you need it.
The eight-speed automatic transmission paired with this diesel engine feels better sorted than the six-speed auto mated to the 2.0-litre petrol engine. It could also be that because of the diesel’s superlative torque, it’s not under the same pressure to choose the right gear.
It makes the Sportage SX diesel an easy car to drive, whether you’re traversing suburbs or cruising down the freeway. It is content to lope along but has reserves of torque on tap when the need arises. It’s also a quiet engine, its noise barely heard above the hum of the 18-inch Hankook tyres on the bitumen.
That said, the tyres and the Sportage’s all-wheel-drive system do a good job providing traction without sending much tyre noise into the otherwise quiet cabin.
Typical of Kia models, the Sportage SX rides well and handles rougher surfaces with composure. The soft initial tune helps it soak up harder hits, but there’s an underlying firmness that keeps excessive wheel travel and body roll to a minimum.
Driving dynamics are also good, but not quite a match for the physically lighter petrol-powered Sportage. The Sportage’s steering is light and relatively quick, which makes low-speed manoeuvres less taxing. Its 11.4m turning circle is good, but not class-leading.
|Key details||2022 Kia Sportage SX AWD diesel auto|
|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||77.8kW/t|
|Tow rating||1900kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
Should I buy a Kia Sportage?
The Kia Sportage SX may not have leather trim, push-button start or an electrically opening tailgate, but it does have all the equipment necessary to make daily driving comfortable and fuss-free.
That, and its relatively sharp price against its rivals, is why we believe the Kia Sportage SX diesel is the sweet spot in the 11-strong 2022 Kia Sportage range.
It is practical and roomy, has an enviably long list of active safety features, has all the creature comforts you need, and it has a robust, willing and economical turbo diesel engine.
In short, it ticks all the boxes for what the average Australian expects from an accomplished mid-size SUV.
And, priced just $2500 above the entry-level Sportage S, there’s very little reason not to step up if your budget allows.
2022 Kia Sportage SX Wagon
Interior Comfort & Packaging
Infotainment & Connectivity
Glenn Butler is one of Australia’s best-known motoring journalists having spent the last 25 years reporting on cars on radio, TV, web and print. He’s a former editor of Wheels, Australia’s most respected car magazine, and was deputy editor of Drive.com.au before that. Glenn’s also worked at an executive level for two of Australia’s most prominent car companies, so he understands how much care and consideration goes into designing and developing new cars. As a journalist, he’s driven everything from Ferraris to Fiats on all continents except Antarctica (which he one day hopes to achieve) and loves discovering each car’s unique personality and strengths. Glenn knows a car’s price isn’t indicative of its competence, and even the cheapest car can enhance your life and expand your horizons.