2017 Kia Sportage SX FWD
Let’s say that there are three buckets to put vehicle designs in.
One is American. One is Asian. One is European. (Note that this is in alphabetical, not chauvinistic, order.)
So the quick question is: Which bucket does the 2017 Kia Sportage go into?
Now it should be pointed out that Kia is a company based in Korea. And that the Sportage is built in a plant in Gwangju, Korea.
Pretty much puts it in the Asian bucket, doesn’t it?
But look at it:
And given the ocular evidence, I’m saying European.
Yes, it was designed under the direction of Peter Schreyer, who hails from Bavaria.
Yes, it was designed in the Kia design studio in Frankfurt am Main.
Yes, it looks completely European.
And as a global product, the European market is not inconsiderable.
And given the appeal of many European products in non-European markets, the resonance can be considerable.
If you think about it, if you take Volkswagen out the equation, when it comes to the U.S. market “European” pretty much means “pricy” vehicles. (OK, there’s Fiat, too, but cute as some of the cars may be, know that its total sales—of everything—in the U.S. market in 2015 was 42,410, which is fewer than the number of Sportages sold in the U.S. in 2015, 53,739.)
Yet the Sportage is not a pricy vehicle.
That is, the SX includes a 2.0-liter, gasoline direct injected, turbocharged I4 engine that produces 240 hp and a six-speed automatic. There are electric power steering; a sport tuned suspension; paddle shifters; 19-inch alloy wheels; bi-xenon headlights with dynamic bending; dual exhaust; heated outside mirrors; metal pedals; leather seats (including a power-adjustable 10-way driver seat and two-way lumbar support); smart key and pushbutton start, eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and UVO eServices telematics; blind-spot detection; lane change assist; rear cross traffic alert; autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection; lane departure warning. . . .
Yes, there is more. Yes, this is loaded.
And the MSRP on the window sticker is $32,500.
Looks good. Has the goods.
What more can you ask?
Maybe there’s one more thing to note: Earlier this year Kia was named the #1 brand in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. This is the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand achieved that ranking.
Which means that Kia scored higher in initial quality than Porsche (#2), BMW (#5), Audi (#15), and Mercedes (#16).
Euro style and Asian quality (i.e., the only other non-lux brand to score the top number was Toyota, way back in the day, and it is worth noting that the study has been conducted for 30 years).
Sportage is quite the package.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged, GDI I4, 240 hp// Transmission: Six-speed automatic//Cargo volume: Behind 2nd row: 30.7 cu. ft. // Fuel economy: 21/26/23 city/highway/combined mpg
This is not a piece of modern art: Rather, it is an image from Blackmore Sensors and Analytics of Bozeman, Montana, micro-Doppler signatures of pedestrians (or maybe that’s a pedestrian, singular) walking (see it now?). Blackmore is a company that is developing FMCW lidar.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.
Plenty of interior components are injection molded. But some companies—such as VW—are using a process for trim pieces that both mold a component and cover it in fabric in a single molding process. And it is coming to the U.S. in the not-too-distant future.