Here's where it gets a little confusing. The EX Sportages at the event were all equipped with the upcoming SX's suspension tuning and shocks. In addition, they had the right wheel and tire package -- in this case, 235/55R18 100H Hankook Optimo H426 tires on the optional 18-inch alloy wheels -- but at the wrong offset. Kia is going to push the wheels 2mm outward by the time the crossover goes on sale. The Sportage shares its platform with the new Hyundai Tucson, but the Kia has its own driving feel on the road. It receives, among other things, a thicker front anti-roll bar, different tire size, and quicker steering.
The EX-meets-SX Sportages we drove provided a firm ride that let in road irregularities, but did well in twists and turns. All Sportages use a fully independent suspension, MacPherson struts in front and multilink in the rear. There was also considerable road noise. You can expect a more comfortable ride out of the production EX, and hopefully a quieter ride as well. The Sportage's steering is communicative and neither too light nor too heavy; according to Kia, the steering feel is not likely to change by the time production models arrive in the U.S. The large A- and C-pillars reduce visibility somewhat, but it's pretty easy to get used to.
The 2.4-liter is a good base engine for this compact crossover. Its 176 horsepower (170 in SULEV models) is a less than in the CR-V or the four-cylinder RAV4, but more than the Rogue offers. And around town, there is decent acceleration off the line -- and it has more horsepower than the outgoing V-6. Getting up to speed on the freeway takes a little longer, and the four could use more torque, but the six-speed auto does an admirable job of managing the power. The 270-horsepower turbo four should take care of those who want more power here, but there won't be a V-6 in the Sportage (even though the engine bay certainly looks roomy enough for one).
Dimensions have grown with this generation; wheelbase is up 0.4 inch, length increased by 3.5 inches, and it's 2.1 inches wider. (Height is down 2.3 inches.) While there is still plenty of room in the cabin, most dimensions, with the exception of rear-seat legroom, are down slightly. What the interior does gain is more cargo volume behind the rear seats, which went up from 23.6 to 26.1 cubic feet.