2013 Kia Sportage

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$7,667–$19,599 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Kia Sportage. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Appealing design
  • Many premium options
  • Affordable stick-shift model
  • Reliability
  • Nimble handling

The Bad

  • Modest cargo room
  • Highway steering and ride
  • Visibility
  • Poor small-overlap crash tests
  • Resale value

Notable Features of the 2013 Kia Sportage

  • Power-folding side mirrors now standard
  • Available turbo four-cylinder
  • FWD or AWD
  • Available Uvo connectivity
  • Six-speed manual or automatic

2013 Kia Sportage Road Test

Kelsey Mays

The 2013 Kia Sportage remains sharp inside and out, but increasing issues with the car demand attention — from Kia and shoppers alike.

Stylish and nimble, the five-seat Sportage SUV remains compelling for shoppers who drive solo, but it hasn't evolved like some of its competitors have to accommodate small families. And too many issues — a poor crash test here, a steering problem there — cause concerns. I evaluated an all-wheel-drive Sportage EX, which is a middle trim level that's higher than the base and LX and just below the SX. (The base comes only with front-wheel drive, while other trims have front- or all-wheel drive.)

For a photo gallery, click here.

Going & Stopping
Drive solo and the Sportage's 2.4-liter four-cylinder gets to highway speeds capably enough thanks to balanced low-end power and snappy accelerator response. The six-speed automatic transmission's shifts, however, are a bit muddy at times, and it hunts for gears during rapid elevation changes. Base models employ a six-speed manual.

The weight of three adults on board required most of the drivetrain's reserves to maintain highway speed. If you frequently haul passengers, sticking with front-wheel drive saves 169 pounds, which should free up some passing power. Or opt for Kia's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which makes 260 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet of torque — considerably more than the 2.4-liter's 176 hp and 168 pounds-feet. Alas, it...

The 2013 Kia Sportage remains sharp inside and out, but increasing issues with the car demand attention — from Kia and shoppers alike.

Stylish and nimble, the five-seat Sportage SUV remains compelling for shoppers who drive solo, but it hasn't evolved like some of its competitors have to accommodate small families. And too many issues — a poor crash test here, a steering problem there — cause concerns. I evaluated an all-wheel-drive Sportage EX, which is a middle trim level that's higher than the base and LX and just below the SX. (The base comes only with front-wheel drive, while other trims have front- or all-wheel drive.)

For a photo gallery, click here.

Going & Stopping
Drive solo and the Sportage's 2.4-liter four-cylinder gets to highway speeds capably enough thanks to balanced low-end power and snappy accelerator response. The six-speed automatic transmission's shifts, however, are a bit muddy at times, and it hunts for gears during rapid elevation changes. Base models employ a six-speed manual.

The weight of three adults on board required most of the drivetrain's reserves to maintain highway speed. If you frequently haul passengers, sticking with front-wheel drive saves 169 pounds, which should free up some passing power. Or opt for Kia's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which makes 260 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet of torque — considerably more than the 2.4-liter's 176 hp and 168 pounds-feet. Alas, it's available only on the Sportage SX. Lesser trims employ only the 2.4-liter four.

Major competitors have surpassed the Sportage's gas mileage, if only by a smidgen. EPA numbers with the six-speed auto and 2.4-liter four-cylinder are 21/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined. That's 1 mpg combined short of the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. All-wheel-drive Sportages get an estimated 20/27/23 mpg, which matches the Equinox's combined figure but falls 2 mpg short of the others. With either Sportage driveline, the 2.0-liter turbo loses 1 mpg combined. All Sportages have the same four-wheel-disc brakes with the required antilock braking. Repeat hard stops delivered linear, fade-free pedal response. Another bonus: The Sportage's 34.7-foot turning circle makes for easy U-turns, where the Escape (38.7 feet) and Equinox (40 feet) need three-pointers.

Ride & Handling
I can't heap similar praise on the Sportage's highway composure. At moderate speeds, the steering delivered quick, nimble cuts, with little body roll in our EX test car, but on the interstate it gravitates toward a numb, distant sensation when the wheel is at 12 o'clock. The Sportage dials back power assist well enough — it's not too light or buoyant — but the wheel never settles in; it wanders off-center too easily, and the constant corrections to keep the SUV on track wear you down. It's characteristic of too many vehicles from Kia and its parent company, Hyundai. Kia's new Cadenza sedan shows signs of progress, but the evolution has yet to reach the brand's SUVs.

Fitted with upgraded rear shock absorbers a year ago, the Sportage filters out individual bumps well enough, but highways still expose the gritty busyness that's characterized the nameplate since its 2011 redesign. Our test car had higher-performance shocks, as well as 18-inch wheels and P235/55R18 tires. Both come on the EX and SX but not the base or LX trims, though all Sportages will adopt the upgraded shocks for 2014.

The Inside
The Sportage's raked windshield sacrifices some forward visibility, but the cabin gets high marks for design. Inventive textures cover the dash: piano-black center controls and some chrome around the gearshift. Alas, cabin materials underline the SUV's sub-$20,000 starting price: thin seats, harsh plastics and padding-free upper doors. The Mazda CX-5 and up-level versions of the Ford Escape have richer materials.

Despite a high center console — as opposed to the upright, minivan-like dash in the Honda CR-V — the Sportage had enough knee room for my 6-foot frame. (The Escape's console is even wider, and several editors found it pinned their knees in.) But the six-way powered driver's seat on EX and SX trim levels forgoes a cushion-angle adjuster, and some may find the fixed angle lends too much or too little thigh support.

For an SUV that's a few inches shorter than the Escape, CR-V and RAV4 — and more than a foot shorter than the Equinox — the Sportage's backseat has adequate knee room. Unfortunately, the seat sits low to the floor, so adults may find their knees uncomfortably elevated. What's more, the Sportage lacks any backseat adjustments, which many SUVs in this class offer.

Cargo space behind the rear seats totals a modest 26.1 cubic feet; the Equinox, RAV4, Escape and CR-V all have 30-plus cubic feet. Fold the seats down, and the Sportage tops out at 54.6 cubic feet — 9.1 to 18.8 cubic feet short of the group's maximum figures.

Safety, Resale Concerns
In crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sportage earned top marks in front, side and rear impacts, as well as in a roof-strength test. But the SUV scored poorly in IIHS' new small-overlap crash test, which simulates hitting an object from your front-left corner. (Read about the test here.) The 2014 Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport fared well in the test, but most other Sportage competitors also did poorly.

Standard safety features on the Kia include six airbags plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. The Sportage does not offer blind spot, lane departure or forward collision warning systems — increasingly widespread safety options among some competitors. Click here for a full list of safety features on the Sportage, and see how it accommodates child-safety seats in our Car Seat Check.

In its two years on the market, the Sportage has shown exemplary reliability, even in a class known for few problems. Resale value, however, is concerning. Residuals calculator ALG projects five-year resale values for the SUV to range from 34 to 38 percent, depending on trim level. That's closer to the Equinox (31 to 34 percent) than the CR-V (38 to 40 percent) and Escape (37 to 40 percent). ALG has yet to calculate residuals for the redesigned RAV4.

Features & Pricing
The base Sportage starts around $20,000, including destination charge. That's thousands less than its major competitors, and it gets you a stick-shift car with 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, cruise control, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

It would seem like a good deal, but the automatic transmission — for which nearly all SUV shoppers opt — requires stepping up to the LX (about $22,000). It also adds larger alloy wheels, headlight washers and remote entry with a car alarm, but that's embarrassingly little to justify the $2,000 difference. Pile up the options on an EX or SX, meanwhile, and you can get leather seats and heated front seats — along with a cooled driver's seat that works pretty well, considering most cooled seats are as effective at cooling you as a cup of decaf is at waking you up. You can also get a panoramic moonroof, navigation and a backup camera. All-wheel drive runs an affordable $1,500 on the LX, EX and SX.

Load up an all-wheel-drive Sportage SX and the total runs about $32,500.

Sportage in the Market
Kia's larger Sorento overshadows the Sportage, outselling its smaller sibling at a rate of more than 3.5 to 1. More popular compact SUVs, meanwhile, outsell the Sorento by double or more. Kia's two-SUV strategy in this group gives shoppers more choices, but the smaller of the two seems increasingly entry-level as the years go by. Small families will find better versatility among some of the Sportage's competitors, particularly the CR-V. It should still appeal to solo drivers, but consider the drawbacks before jumping in.

Send Kelsey an email  



Latest 2013 Sportage Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Cute car

by Lona from Philipsburg on August 6, 2018

I really love this car. Never was in a Kia before but I think it has all the features I was looking for. I feel quite safe in it. Read full review

(1.0)

Engine issues...

by PhilP from Parma,OH on July 11, 2018

Bought new off the lot. Did scheduled maint on the car and then had engine knocking at 62k. They replaced ONLY the short block under shoddy warrenty work. Had issues with the engine not being secured ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Kia Sportage currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Kia Sportage Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Kia

Program Benefits

164-point inspection, Carfax vehicle history report, 10-year/unlimited mileage 24-hour roadside assistance including trip-interruption services and lockout assistance

  • Limited Warranty

    10 years / 100,000 miles

    10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty; towing/rental/travel breakdown benefits; eligible for additional comprehensive mechanical failure. Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 164 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Sportage received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker