While the previous-generation Sportage was an also-ran, this fourth-generation redesign jumps almost to the top of the small SUV class. Distinctions like the rakish roofline and spry demeanor remain, but improvements include more civilized road manners, a roomier interior, improved crash-worthiness, and better visibility.
Although the Sportage shares its platform with the highly rated Hyundai Tucson, these two corporate cousins don’t share powertrains. That's a mixed blessing; we weren't jazzed by either Hyundai drivetrain, as they either felt underpowered or suffered from an unrefined transmission. However, they offered good fuel economy, delivering up to 26 mpg overall in our tests, on par with the best in class.
By contrast, most Sportages get a 2.4-liter, 181-hp four-cylinder with a conventional six-speed automatic. It's considerably more pleasant and responsive than either Tucson drivetrain, supplying ample power that never feels too taxed. The refined automatic transmission operates serenely in the background, showing good response to inputs. But fuel economy is just fair at 23 mpg overall, falling well behind the small SUV pack. The top-dog Sportage SX Turbo has a 2.0-liter, 240-hp four-cylinder.