Toyota RAV4 vs. Kia Sportage

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - October 20, 2016

The Toyota RAV4 and the Kia Sportage have been around since the mid-1990s, and have seen tons of changes along the way. Both models are now in their fourth generation. Through the years, these compact crossovers have proved popular with U.S. buyers, but is one poised to start capturing a larger share of the market?

See a side-by-side comparison of the RAV4 & Sportage »

What the Toyota RAV4 Gets Right

The RAV4 received a much-needed makeover in 2013 and gained some helpful features, including a power liftgate in place of its previous swing-out rear door. A sharp, sporty refresh came in 2016 to put the small crossover on a new level in terms of style. Its offers 38 cubic feet of cargo space with a full load of five passengers, and 73 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. What we like best about its cargo area is the low sill height, which makes it easy to load heavy or awkward items.

Good ergonomics contribute to the car-like comfort of the RAV4. It also drives and parks easily, especially with the help of the standard rearview camera.

While its engines pale in comparison to the Sportage’s, the RAV4 has an extra wrinkle in the hybrid model that gets 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

What the Kia Sportage Gets Right

The Sportage is all new for 2017, and its new look, while not as sporty as the RAV4’s, is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise vanilla segment. While it loses in many measurable specs inside the cabin, the Sportage’s rear seat is actually a bit more spacious than the RAV4’s, making it better for a growing family.

The powertrain department is where the Sportage really excels. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine cranks out a respectable 181 horsepower. The engine that puts the Sportage on the map, however, is the turbo 2-liter unit that pounds out 240 horsepower, making it one of the quickest entries in this class. The Sportage can also hold its own in non-hybrid fuel-economy tests, as the FE trim gets 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

On top of having peppy engines, the Sportage has a sporty suspension that is capable in the corners but still soft on bumpy roads

What really puts the Kia over the top is its massive warranty that covers everything for 5 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Does the Sportage Outshine the RAV4?

Among the few criticisms of the RAV4 is its utter lack of a fun factor. Although it handles well, gets good gas mileage, and offers ample cargo capacity, its slow acceleration squashes any sense of adventure. Although the Sportage is smaller than the RAV4, we think the available turbocharged engine adds a big dose of pizzazz to the utilitarian features of a crossover.

Our Verdict: Kia Sportage

The Sportage is smaller than the RAV4, but much more fun to drive when equipped with the turbocharged engine, an option the RAV4 doesn’t offer.

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 >>

Take a closer look at the Kia Sportage >>


Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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