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Car Tech Video: 2013 Kia Sportage SX
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Car Tech Video: 2013 Kia Sportage SX

7:08 /

Prodigious power and responsive tech in a tidy package.

-Now, it seems like every time someone talks to me about buying a compact crossover, they're always forgetting about this guy. I don't quite know why. Let's drive the 2013 Kia Sportage, the SX with the turbo motor, and check the tech. Now, this was one of the first Kias that started to change people's minds about Kia, partly 'cause it's one of the first cars they made that didn't look hideous. It's one of the early Peter Schreyer designs when he came over from Audi. On the other hand, though, this generation, the vehicle is starting to age. It first came out as a 2010 model year. So, by this point in history, it's getting fairly close to being completely redone. Bear that in mind. Now, we've seen this head unit before. What I like about it, in particular, is the fact that it's got really fast response. This is a really key thing in any touchscreen interface especially since there's no controller. You do have voice command, but the touch is really the rock star here. Look how fast things go as I run through these buttons and try and set things up. It doesn't take any delay whatsoever and you're up and running. We have a UVO head unit here which, in this case, means UVO voice command and it is powered by Microsoft. This is not the same as the new UVO eServices head unit that you're gonna see starting with the 2014 Soul that has the Pandora and eventually other apps supported. No apps here. Also, no HD radio here, but you got AM/FM satellite radio with a really good display, big buttons, and again, great payoff on that fast response on the touchscreen. A little bit crunchy in terms of putting in your mobiles. We still have this old school, for Kia and Hyundai, Aux/USB combo. You need a pigtail cable that goes into both of those that wants to hook up your iPod. Neither one of those will get the iPod up and running, though the AUX so work by itself. A thumb drive, however, will go in there and recognize by itself. A little weird. And you can see, it does a decent job of giving us meta-tag information off our thumb drive. Great ergonomics by the way in the reach of everything here. Not every car nails this but you've got a nice reach to the head unit, another easy nice reach to the climate controls with a similar inclination. Same angles, so your hand kind of works the same way. This is a small thing, but it makes the car very livable. And over here on this left side, you see the active eco button that puts the car in a more relaxed, fuel-sipping mode. You've also got a hill-descent creek mode in this vehicle, even though we have a two-wheel drive model. This is interesting. Over here on this fully trimmed Sportage, we have a heating and cooling button for the driver's side. That's optional, but not available on the passenger's side. So, basically, you're saying to the person riding shotgun, "Screw you!" But to add insult to injury, you do have an air-conditioned glove box, but not their seat. That's how low on the packing order they are. The owner's manual gets better treat. Now, under the hood on this '13 Sportage, on the SX trim, we've got kind of the greatest hits of modern engine manufacturing. It's all right here on the lid, turbo GDI, turbo charging intercooled [unk] with the plumbing up here, gasoline direct injection. Two-liter engine but, out of those technologies, we get 260 horse, 269-foot pounds of torque gets this 3300-pound vehicle which is relatively chunky up to 60 in 5.8 seconds while delivering 21/28 MPG. Not bad given its profile and weight. If you go all-wheel drive, though, which is an option on this guy, a lot of numbers change. The MPG drops down to 20/25 getting in the red zone there, 0 to 60 goes up 4 or 5 tenths, and of course, the weight goes up about 140 pounds. Regardless of how many wheels are getting power to the ground, they're all getting it from the same place, a six-speed automatic, you're only choice with this powerplant, and it's got a shiftable gate on one side. But beyond that, it's relatively guarded in a variety of stuff. Okay, first thing I notice when I drive this vehicle is that it feels about as heavy as it is. I mean, it's not all light weight. It's not a huge [unk] thing, but it's planted and it's got a little more quality feel than you might expect the price range because of the weight. Of course, the downside of that as we discussed is the MPG is not exactly accelerating. The next thing I notice is the engine note is a little intrusive along with some road noises because we have 18s and lower profile tires that doesn't help on the road noise. And the engine note is just kind of grindy. It's not a great engine to listen to those with like your immediate sort of tactile responses. Now, once you get going, there are two personalities on this car. If you leave it in-drive normally, you've got a certain amount of turbo lag times downshift lag that a lot of cars have these days, but it's not bad. If you're in the eco-- active eco mode down here, it gets really bad. By the time you finally get a kickdown out of this car when you want some power and then the turbo spools up, it's another century. So, I'm really not big on the active eco mode unless you're on a long highway trip and you wanna just drive this guy on that mode and sip fuel, but around town, that buttons are disaster. So, I'm taking that off which leaves me now with the gate side of the transmission. This is not a sport mode. It is a manual shifting mode. So, there is no sport mode on this vehicle, which I think you could use because somewhere between shifting it myself and leaving it in drive is where I'm sure the sweet spot is, but I wasn't able to accomplish that without moving the shifter around and I'm not a huge fan of shifting automatics a lot of the time. Last note you guys are asking about a lot, the cabin dynamics. You know, my height, I'm 6'2" and it didn't change. Headroom is pretty good. I'm kind of right up against the side here, but I've got plenty of cutaway where the sunroof goes up. In terms of visibility, in the back, it's a little bit rough. Those are huge C-pillars on the back there and a very sort of tapered down backlight or rear window. So, you don't see a lot of the back of this guy. Luckily, that rearview camera is standard. Similarly, that A-pillar is a big chunky one, one of the biggest I've seen and it can block out a lot in your peripheral vision. You gotta be aware of that. Okay, if you're looking to get one of these guys, here's how the pricing breaks down, CNET style. $27,700 base for front-wheel drive in the SX which has the cool powertrain. On top of that, it would cost you $1,500 to go with their electronically controlled all-wheel drive and that's more of a handling and weather all-wheel drive than an off-road all-wheel drive. Bear that in mind. Another $1,200, quite affordable, will get you that navigation system, although you already have the LCD head unit either way and the rearview camera is included. The last thing to look at is the premium package, $2,000 more that will get you the heated, cooled, or just heated front seats and some Homelink stuff for the garage door and a few other niceties. All in, about $32,400 CNET style and you shouldn't forget about it.

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