A close up of the badge on an orange 2022 Kia Sportage.

Building a Better Sportage

How do you make something better that is already really good? This question has plagued designers, engineers, and architects throughout history, but it is especially true for automakers. Even the most popular models, such as the Kia Sportage, have relatively short lives before they are eclipsed by new technology. Small, incremental changes like a more powerful engine or a new feature on the infotainment system can only go so far, and the vehicle will eventually need to be redesigned from the ground up. Kia is doing precisely that for the 2022 Kia Sportage, and while the details have yet to be officially released, we are excited by what will soon be rolling into your local Kia Dealership.

Kia has been building the Sportage compact crossover since 1993, but it has undergone a couple of redesigns since it first hit the market. The last redesign was in 2015, and five years is about as long as a new car remains relevant these days. While some manufacturers push things longer, Kia is not among them, which is how its models continue to offer cutting edge features and technology. With that in mind, word has begun circulating about an all-new 2022 Kia Sportage. Reports of a heavily camouflaged Sportage model taking a ride at the Kia test track recently leaked out of South Korea. While this fueled speculation, it also created more mystery since the wrapper on the test car prevented folks from seeing everything that is in store for the future. Nevertheless, rumors have been swirling that Kia may have something surprising up its sleeve for the 2022 Sportage.

New Looks for 2022

The images out of South Korea show a number of new things for the 2022 Kia Sportage. For one thing, the side view mirrors have been lowered so that now they are affixed below the bottom edge of the door windows. This mounting on the current Sportage is a black composite that starts at the front end of the driver and front passenger windows. As a result, these windows are blocked in the front. By moving the side view mirrors to a spot on the doors, it allows the two front side windows to be extended, increasing the visibility without compromising the effectiveness of side-view mirrors. In this way, the change is not just cosmetic but functional as well.

The 2022 Kia Sportage also appears to have larger and more angular headlights than the current model. If they are anything like the design of the headlights in the new 2021 Kia K5, this will be one sharp-looking SUV. In addition, the headlights appear to be mounted further forward, nearer the grille, providing greater coverage. The body design also appears to have a more aggressive roof slope with more aerodynamic lines. If this is the model that Kia ultimately releases, there is a good chance that this will improve the overall fuel economy for the Kia Sportage.

The turbo GDI engine on a 2021 Kia Sportage.

Super Sporty Powertrains

The current model of the Kia Sportage comes with a choice of two truly exceptional engines. The standard engine on the 2021 Kia Sportage is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that is paired with a 6-speed automatic and produces 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The second option is a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that can produce up to 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 2021 Kia Sportage is front-wheel drive standard with available Dynamax all-wheel drive that features a Driver Select Mode, so you can choose the drivetrain to best fit the road conditions. This added traction is especially helpful if you live in areas with plenty of snow and ice during the winter months.

The Sportage is known for getting solid fuel economy, which is a big reason why the model has been so popular with drivers. The 2021 Sportage with the 2.4-liter engine and front-wheel drive gets 23 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. The Sportage with the 2.0-liter turbo provides greater speed and power at the cost of some fuel economy, getting an estimated 20 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. If you choose the optional all-wheel drivetrain, the fuel economy drops to 19 miles per gallon in city driving, 24 miles per gallon on the highway, and a combined 21 miles per gallon. We expect that the improvements to the Sportage’s design for the 2022 model year will further improve these figures.

One of the biggest surprises is that the 2022 Kia Sportage may feature a hybrid drivetrain. This would be a plug-in hybrid with a 1.6-liter engine paired with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. Currently, Kia produces one electric vehicle, the Niro, which is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV. The Niro Plug-In Hybrid pairs a 1.6-liter engine with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery to produce excellent fuel economy as well as great range. Kia is also planning to debut the all-new battery-powered Soul EV during the 2021 model year. The plan appears to be to leverage the technology from the Niro and Soul vehicles for a plug-in hybrid 2022 Sportage.

A white 2020 Niro EV is driving down the highway after leaving the Kia dealership.

Standard Safety Features That Help You Drive

One of the reasons why the Kia Sportage has been so successful is that every model comes loaded with active safety features. The decision to make so many safety features standard on all Sportage models has helped Kia stand apart from its competitors in the increasingly crowded compact crossover marketplace. Most other vehicles require you to purchase a higher trim level or pony up the extra cash for optional equipment to get the same features that come standard on the Sportage. This represents a major competitive advantage for Kia.

The list of standard safety features on the Sportage is truly staggering, which is probably why it is a Top Safety Pick according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These systems begin with Lane Departure Warning, which sends an alert when you start to drift into the next lane or even oncoming traffic. Lane Keeping Assist takes this a step further by actively nudging your steering wheel to keep you in the lane, not unlike a border collie herding sheep. Finally, forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection will alert you when there is a person, object, or vehicle in your path and even help you with braking to avoid a possible crash.

However, these systems don’t end there. Driver Attention Warning is especially helpful for those of us who have to drive at night, as the system will detect if you are dozing off by how you are handling your Sportage. The system will send a warning to help keep you alert. High Beam Assist can also help with night driving, as this will automatically turn your Sportage’s high beams on when the system senses excessively dark areas. It will also automatically turn them off when it picks up oncoming headlights or taillights in front of you. The 2022 Sportage will hopefully build on these standard safety features.

It may be a while longer before we see all the details of the 2022 Kia Sportage, but this SUV looks like it will be worth the wait. Kia has made a tradition of building quality cars and SUVs with great ingenuity and cutting edge features, like the Niro EV and the standard safety features on the current model of the Sportage. A Sportage with a plug-in hybrid powertrain will be a welcome addition to the Kia lineup. It will also give drivers who want an exceptional compact crossover at a great price one more option to choose from when buying their next vehicle.