2022 Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD review

A lusty drive in a trimmed-down package makes this middleweight Sportage a compelling proposition for certain buyer tastes.

Curt Dupriez
Curt Dupriez
Journalist
Published
PROS
  • Great diesel powertrain
  • Enticingly priced and long warranty
  • Excellent on-road manners
CONS
  • Some basic features
  • Some conspicuous cost consciousness
  • Pricier to service than Hyundai Tucson

The all-new Kia Sportage has certainly made a grand entrance into the hotly-contested mid-sized SUV segment, daisy fresh and stylised to the hilt.

It needs to be good, both as a standalone car and alongside the slew of quality alternatives offering tough competition, not least its equally reimagined and impressive new Hyundai Tucson cousin.

Out of the blocks, the flagship petrol GT-Line (reviewed here) garnered the sort of critical response you imagine Kia was hoping for.

As the fittest of its breed, it demonstrates a big step forward for a nameplate that was pretty good in previous guise, with “just about everything you could want” and enough of it to “make you think twice about buying a premium Euro.” It scored an exceptional and deserving 8.6/10.

But it’s one thing to garner praise in top-spec guise. It’s a tougher and more complex pitch further down the range, particularly one that blends various trim levels and powertrain grades. Does the Sportage’s slick, forward-thinking, increasingly upmarket pitch dull when you start whittling away at the goodies to arrive at a sharper price? 

Here on test is the 2022 Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD. As a package, it’s the entry S trim melded with top-spec diesel powertrain. Unsurprisingly, it comes with a price that plonks it right in the middle of the range, wedged between a couple of petrol front-driven versions of nice (SX) and nicer (SX+) appointments that will likely be more popular.

The S 2.0D AWD is, by creation, a bit on an outlier aimed at particular tastes.

Is the powertrain impressive enough to warrant the significant extra investment beyond Sportage’s humblest variants? And how does the Sportage stack up with its headline-grabbing GT-Line spec sheet slimmed down?

WATCH: Paul’s video review of the Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD

How much does the Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD cost?

Our test subject clocks in at $39,845 before on-road costs, or a little over $44,000 drive-away according to Kia’s online configurator using a Sydney postcode – it appears the nationwide drive-away pricing announced at launch has been dropped.

The only option fitted is premium paint, adding $520 regardless of hue or shade. Fusion Black is the finish you see here.

By comparison, the petrol front-driven S auto is $34,445 plus on-roads when opting out of the diesel AWD powertrain. Alternatively, moving up to nicer SX grade with diesel and AWD demands nearly $47,000 on the road. 

2022 Kia Sportage pricing:

  • 2022 Kia Sportage S 2.0 FWD manual: $32,445
  • 2022 Kia Sportage S 2.0 FWD auto: $34,445
  • 2022 Kia Sportage SX 2.0 FWD manual: $35,000
  • 2022 Kia Sportage SX 2.0 FWD auto: $37,000
  • 2022 Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD auto: $39,845
  • 2022 Kia Sportage SX+ 2.0 FWD auto: $41,500
  • 2022 Kia Sportage SX 2.0D AWD auto: $42,400
  • 2022 Kia Sportage SX+ 1.6T AWD auto: $43,500
  • 2022 Kia Sportage SX+ 2.0D AWD auto: $46,900
  • 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 1.6T AWD auto: $49,370
  • 2022 Kia Sportage GT-Line 2.0D AWD auto: $52,370

All prices exclude on-road costs

While there’s a vast choice of mid-sized SUVs for similar money, choices narrow considerably if you’re specifically chasing diesel and all-wheel drive. 

Thus, key rivals are the Hyundai Tucson Elite 2.0D AWD ($45,000) or the updated Mazda CX-5 Touring Active 2.2D AWD ($45,680) – both of which are pricier drive-away. Volkswagen’s Tiguan enters the market in 147TDI Elegance form much further up the tree at $53,290 before on-roads.

Albeit petrol, it would be remiss not to mention the Toyota RAV4 GX, available as a hybrid-petrol-electric from $40,400 before on-road costs.

What do you get?

Sportage S highlights:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (wireless)
  • DAB digital radio
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • ‘Basic’ digital instrument cluster with 4.2-inch TFT display
  • LED headlights (reflector-type)
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Partial-LED tail lights
  • Power-folding mirrors
  • Full-size spare wheel
  • Leather-accented steering wheel and PVC shifter
  • AEB with pedestrian/cyclist/junction assist
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane Follow Assist
  • Intelligent speed limit assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Electric park brake
  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Front-centre airbag

Is the Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD safe?

At the time of writing, the new Sportage range has not been tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP. 

That said, the mechanically-related Hyundai Tucson recently scored five stars in ANCAP and Euro NCAP testing.  

All models come standard with the following safety equipment:

  • AEB with pedestrian/cyclist/junction assist
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane Follow Assist
  • Intelligent speed limit assist
  • Adaptive cruise control (excludes manual models)
  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Front-centre airbag

What is the Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD like on the inside?

The base Sportage musters up its best, premium-challenging, Mercedes-esque take on design… and gets away with it in some areas, while coming up short in others. You can only mask cost-consciousness so much.

There’s plenty of good stuff. The cabin is clear and easy to negotiate, offering lots of light and excellent outward vision though the glasshouse. The clearer approach to styling over its forebear makes it feel much more contemporary. 

Great seat contours, relaxed comfort, sound ergonomics, it’s wholly resolved with nothing awkward or strange. It’s quite a natural and welcoming cabin space in the first row, and the nicely-trimmed multifunction wheel brings a sense of occasion to the fairly unadventurous dark grey colour scheme.

The ‘boomerang’ style motif that anchors the handsome exterior design (most noticeably via its LED lights) is mirrored in the air vents and door handles to impressive effect.

Meanwhile, the wraparound effect of the dash fascia blending into the concave door trims, with the driver-skewed central stack layout and surfboard-sized instrument and infotainment panel, is oh-so European. The look of the digital instrumentation, with its (very Kia) purple hue, is pleasing and modern if a little trite with its weird large-font tachometer readout.

However, some of the presentation looks and feels inexpensive. Unlike some rival cabin treatments, there’s a little too much cheap, shiny and hard plastic used right in your line of sight, and very little of what attempts to appear as metal, or at least metallic, comes across as genuine or convincing.

There’s also lots of evidence of cost cutting, or at least ‘cost consciousness’. Rather than a full-glass instrument array, the S gets smaller displays – 8.0-inch rather the 12.3-inch system found further up the range – with conspicuous framing as a sort of reminder the hardware has been downsized.

Similarly, the centre console, with its simpler array than higher-grade variants, has an ugly assortment of blank panels where the GT-Line’s seat heating/ventilation buttons are situated as evidence of features absent from this base model.

Sure, it’s nitpicking, but it’s a lot of little stuff that amalgamates to tarnish the upmarket vibe the rest of the cabin works hard to promote. The key barrel ignition, mechanical seat adjustment, sole USB-A and -C ports up front but no row-two device power: there are numerous reminders of the affordable side of mainstream motoring.

That said there are other details, such as the rubber-ringed centre stack dials, that stops the S vibe from feeling overly cheap.

Spaciousness in row two is fantastic. Knee room is outstanding and for sheer room it’s tough to beat, augmented by adjustable (40:60-split) seatback tilt to tune in extra comfort. The tail-shaft hump, too, is so low-profile that it doesn’t really compromise foot space by any meaningful measure.

The cloth trim is middling, neither low-rent or particularly welcoming, but it seems hardy and fairly resilient the child-inflicted horrors and a suitable fit for the S’s entry level status. Again, features are slim: dual rear air vents, a phone cubby and dual cupholders in the fold-down arm rest provided you sacrifice the middle seating position.     

Boot space, too, is generous, up around 80 litres over its predecessor. At 543 litres as a five-seater, it’s among one of the largest in segment. Pluses here are a nice square load space, a 12-volt outlet on the left-hand wall and a full-sized alloy spare wheel under the flat floor.

Fundamentally, it’s a great cabin with exceptional packaging and space, if one with an equipment list that means it doesn’t really present with the same premium vibe as higher-spec Sportage variants.

What’s under the bonnet?

The most expensive powertrain choice in the Sportage range is a 2.0-litre common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel paired with an eight-speed conventional automatic, backed by an on-demand all-wheel drive system that’s primarily front-drive until rear axle is called into play automatically when required.  

The engine outputs 137kW at 4000rpm and a lusty 416Nm between 2000-2750rpm, which is 5kW and a whopping 151Nm up on the high-spec 1.6-litre turbo petrol four offered elsewhere in the SX+ and GT-Line. Given the Kia undercuts logical diesel rivals in segment, it’s perhaps the most oomph for your money available in the entire medium SUV class.

The other engine offered in base S guise is the 2.0L ‘MPi’ naturally-aspirated four, making do with a relatively modest 115kW and 192Nm, backed a six-speed manual or automatic and front drive.

The CRDi AWD powertrain comes with a 6.3L/100km combined fuel claim. Kia quotes the same figure regardless of variant, equipment, or wheel size. Whatever the case, it’s more frugal than either the turbo 1.6 AWD (7.2L/100km) or the 2.0 petrol front-drive automatic (8.1L/100km).

The diesel tows 1900kg braked, which is the same figure quoted for the manual 2.0 petrol front-drivers. Both petrol automatic powertrains are rated at a lower 1650kg braked.

The diesel Sportage exclusively brings Multi-Terrain Mode, which allow user-selectable Snow, Mud and Sand calibrations for all-wheel-drive system governance.

How does the Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD drive?

I sampled this same driveline in the new Hyundai Tucson Elite recently and was seriously impressed. And it’s just as seductive, punchy and refined shoehorned into the Sportage package.

I wrote it describing its Korean cousin and I will repeat it here for the Kia: this 2.0-litre diesel driveline is everything it needs to be and then some.

You sense considerable effort has been invested into both making the diesel as smooth and refined as possible and suppressing any associated ‘rattle’ from penetrating the cabin.

In fact, the Sportage 2.0D is so quiet that, initially at least, I thought I’d collected a petrol press vehicle by mistake. It’s only when you climb out of the cabin and hear the engine at idle that the oiler reveals itself with a faint clatter.

Effortless doesn’t begin to describe it – the diesel Sportage gets up and goes, without hesitation or fuss. You barely need to stoke the right pedal, yet there’s no peakiness or unpleasantness. It simply presents nice, progressive thrust, without having to pile on many revs let alone climb towards the redline, which is handy given the digital dashboard doesn’t seem inclined to show one.

The auto is an absolute gem: seamless in a manner lacking in the dual-clutch designs offered elsewhere in range, and in the Sportage’s segment. Its calibration feels perfectly matched to the engine’s sweet spot for no other reason than it doesn’t seem to put a shift wrong.

As we found in its Hyundai twin, there’s no need to go fiddling with drive modes; Normal is fit for any occasion our road test presented it. It’s easy to see why Kia positions the diesel as the premier powertrain option, it’s easily the pick of the pack.  

Pleasant early Summer weather during our custodianship meant we were unable to assess any meaningful benefit to the on-demand all-wheel drive in the wet. But if it does feed torque to the rear axle automatically as promised, it’s nigh on impossible to detect when and if it does.

Just as impressive is the ride. It’s wonderful, with a blend of excellent damping and a bit of extra cushioning from the large-sidewall 65-series tyres that, frankly, don’t do the Sportage’s sporty aesthetic aspirations much favour. 

The S 2.0D wafts along, ironing out all manner of road acne, yet still maintains a solid handle on body control and semblance of sharpness in its chassis. It’s only really when you speed over sharp-edge speed bumps that there’s much of a jolt through the cabin at all. Further, the steering is light, crisp and obedient and the whole package feels and sound rock solid, with very little in the way of noise.  

It’s really in the driving experience, rather than in equipment and spec, the Sportage can confidently challenge big-dollar Euros in the premium stakes, much of it in polish, refinement and comfort. It’s a pleasant thing to drive, be it around town or on the open road. You could do much worse when choosing a device to spend the whole day grand touring in. 

Gripes? The lane-keeping and following smarts are quite overbearing, their calibrations struggling with a real-world randomness presented in the typical Aussie environment, particularly our nation’s haphazard approach to line-marking and laziness in road maintenance. That said, they’re easily switched off and, generally, the rest of the safety suite functions quite transparently.

How much does the Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD cost to run?

The Sportage range is covered by Kia’s excellent seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with seven years of capped-price servicing.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000kms (not the shorter 10,000km of the 1.6 turbo versions) with a total outlay of $3571 over seven years or 105,000kms. In breakdown, consecutive interval costs are $350, $541, $424, $784, $382, $684 and $406

By comparison, Kia’s outlay across the first five years of servicing ($2481) is quite a bit pricier than the prepaid five-year servicing package offered by Hyundai ($1875), which averages out at $375 per visit.

CarExpert’s Take on the Kia Sportage S 2.0D AWD

Kia’s entry diesel Sportage is great bit of gear, all things considered.

The big draw cards are the excellent powertrain and how it wraps great driving manners, excellent size, comfort and refinement in a fresh and contemporary package. The real sweetener is that it’s priced to undercut key rivals from Mazda and, much closer to home, Hyundai.

The key point of difference here is that Kia offers diesel and AWD in base trim. With the Hyundai Tucson, you need to step up to mid-grade Elite for what’s largely the same underpinnings.

The trade-off – and perhaps a fair and realistic trade-off at that – is the Sportage S 2.0D AWD does pare back the goodies and niceties. Comparatively speaking, it’s not necessarily more value-laden that key rivals.

Still, its blend of high-grade running gear with a concise feature is compelling. Mostly because it is, at its core, not only fine motoring but genuine quality at an enticing price. And that it brings something of a unique spin against the dizzying choice of options presented in the medium SUV segment.

Even if you weren’t considering a diesel in your search for the ideal mid-sized SUV, we certainly recommend short-listing the Sportage S 2.0D AWD as an option. It certainly hits a lot of marks in many of the right places.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything Kia Sportage

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Curt Dupriez
Curt Dupriez is a Journalist at CarExpert.
Ratings
Overall8.4
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 7.7
Ride Comfort 9
Fit for Purpose 9
Handling Dynamics 8.4
Interior Practicality and Space 9
Fuel Efficiency 7.8
Value for Money 8.5
Performance 8.4
Technology Infotainment 7.8
Pricing
$39,845 MRLP
Top Line Specs
6.3L
137kW
163g
5 ★
View all specifications

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