While all of the 2016 Kia Sportage trims are fun to drive, the compact crossover's SX trim packs a 260-horsepower turbocharged punch that sets it apart in a highly competitive segment.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Kia Sportage is available in three different trim levels. All 2016 Sportage trims share an electronically controlled six-speed automatic with overdrive and manual-like shifting capabilities.

Front-wheel-drive is standard, but Kia's nifty all-wheel drive system is available as a $1,500 option across the board.

  • Base LX trims are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that creates 182-horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Nicely equipped with standard features, LX models include 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, and remote keyless entry. The front-wheel drive LX starts at $22,150 (plus $895 destination).
  • The EX model shares the 2.4-liter engine found in the LX, but adds leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, and push-button start. Pricing for the front-wheel drive EX begins at $25,350 (plus $895 destination).
  • Driving enthusiasts will want to investigate the nicely equipped $29,990 (plus $895 destination) SX with its zippy 260-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Highlights include an amazing panoramic sunroof, a powerful Infinity audio system, voice-command navigation and a whole lot more.

Performance Pros

The aptly named Kia Sportage is a lot of fun to drive, especially in top spec SX form. Kia's sport-tuned crossover is designed for value minded driving enthusiasts who need plenty of utility and are willing to make a few cruising comfort compromises in the name of performance.

Performance Cons

  • The sport-tuned suspension of the Sportage can be a little punishing at times.
  • All-wheel drive comes with a considerable tax on fuel economy. Adding the turbocharged horsepower robs even more. An all-wheel drive turbo SX, while arguably the most fun to drive, is only good for 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined.

Interior Pros

The bold interior styling continues the sporty theme of the Kia's exterior. With plenty of standard features even in base LX trim, the Sportage's cabin is youthful and fun. Controls are easily accessible, and voice-command navigation (optional in the EX, standard in the SX) is one of the easiest to use in the industry.

Interior Cons

  • Kia's greenhouse design favors style over practicality. The chunky C-pillar makes checking the blind spot a bigger project than it should be.
  • Rear seat legroom is tight, and cargo space is among the worst in the segment.

Most Pleasant Surprise

Kia's turbocharged 2-liter is an absolute blast to drive. Being able to sneak a little chirp out of the tires while rolling in second gear took me completely off guard -- the first time.

Least Pleasant Surprise

Obviously, my raucous horseplay cost me some miles per gallon, but it is still disappointing that a crossover of this size can be so thirsty.

Bottom Line

The 2016 Kia Sportage lives up to its name. Kia's compact crossover combines performance-themed styling, ample power (especially in the 260-horsepower SX), and a lively sport-tuned suspension that can make casual trips to the grocery store something to look forward to.

There are certainly compact crossovers that offer better gas mileage and cargo space, but the fun-loving Sportage has that X-factor that may win you over during a spirited test drive.