Our 2017 Kia Sportage EX AWD looks good. After many months of driving the 2017 Sportage, I’m still a fan of its styling. It’s an important win for the Kia, which isn’t quite as spacious, quick, or efficient as others in the class.
What makes the 2017 Sportage’s design so appealing is that even the base LX incorporates most of what I like about the more expensive EX and SX trims. Unlike every single competitor in our 2016 Big Test comparison of compact crossovers, the Sportage lacks a rear quarter window behind the rear doors. It’s not a big deal, but it does help distinguish the Sportage from most other crossovers. Above the nicely sculpted door panels is my favorite design feature: the roofline that gently slopes downward as it reaches the rear of the crossover, giving it a sportier profile.
Move toward the crossover’s rear, and I have mixed thoughts. I love the shape of the black and body-colored roof spoiler and the way the car emphasizes the automaker’s badge by pushing down the license plate area, like in the Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Cherokee. I could do without the fake taillight strip, which connects the taillights on LX and EX trims (the SX adds a chrome strip), and I would love to see the SX’s wonderfully detailed LED taillights on the EX trim in a future model year.
What bugs me most about the Sportage’s design is something the Kia shares with our 2017 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Bolt EV—its turn signals are mounted way too low in a lighting element some might assume is just a reflector. As someone who actually uses turn signals, I want them to illuminate as high up as possible for optimal visibility.
Up front, the 2017 Sportage’s styling is more controversial, and although I’ve warmed a bit to the headlights and grille, I don’t like how the EX’s circular foglights look much larger in the black area. What I love about the headlights on our Sportage EX is the cool pattern Kia added to the headlight cluster. Just like the grille’s interesting pattern, it’s another cool detail owners can appreciate as they walk to their car.
Another feature I like about the Sportage—one that could only be found on a Kia—is the tabbed shape on the top of the front windshield. That notched cutline is also found on the new 2018 Stinger rear-drive sedan and is echoed by the Sportage’s silver trim around the air vents.
Spending many months with the 2017 Sportage hasn’t changed my opinion about the Kia’s styling. I still think exterior design is one of the car’s best features even if the location of the rear turn signals and the busy foglight area could be improved.