Kia Sportage is one of the best-selling models for the Korean automaker and the new one was due out in 2020, but we have yet to hear anything from the manufacturer. We investigate the whereabouts of the popular Kia compact crossover SUV!
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Sportage is undoubtedly Kia’s one of the most successful models in Korean car company’s history. The current Sportage is the 4th generation model that made its first appearance in 2015 and should be due for a replacement in 2021 according to Kia’s normal life cycle of 6 years.
Originally, the next and the fifth model, the all-new Sportage was supposed to be unveiled in 2020 and already be available for sale by now, according to the original plan. Then Kia delayed unveiling until the spring of 2021 citing the reason for further improvement to make the newest SUV more competitive against the platform-sharing Tucson, which is now already on sale. And subsequently, in the spring of 2021, no one even noticed that the all-new Sportage wasn’t being launched per the schedule as the general public’s attention was focused on the new breakthrough models. The game-changers such as the new dedicated electric cars like the Kia EV6 and the Ioniq 5, along with the host of other new models like the company’s first pickup truck Hyundai Santa Cruz, have completely rolled over any anticipation for the compact SUV from Kia.
China-only Kia Sportage Ace
Also, around this time, what’s claimed to be the new 2022 Kia Sportage surfaced on many YouTube channels, added to the confusion. This new model claimed by many car channels to be the new Sportage, is in fact the Chinese market only Sportage Ace, and not the 5th generation Sportage that would be available throughout the world. Kia Sportage Ace is actually based on the previous generation Tucson or i-x35 as it’s known in China, which is also similar to the 2nd generation Kia Sportage. This car based on the archaic platform from more than 10-years ago is restyled to cater to the Chinese consumers’ taste and sold in China only. The model that was circulated as the new Sportage is in fact a facelifted version of the Chinese Sportage, which was first introduced in 2017 as a 2018 model. However, Kia did a wonderful job in the makeover of the aging car by applying all the new design concepts of the brand like the Telluride-esque front end and the new Sorento-like rear end.
Combined with the refreshed interior that features a stylish modern design with the fully digital instrumentation and 10.25-inch LCD infotainment was enough to fool a lot of people to make them believe that it was a brand-new car. Although it appears that many people actually like the rugged and modern styling, the contents of the cars are still very outdated by featuring a previous generation 161-hp 2.0-liter engine as a lone engine option with the choice of a 6-speed manual or optional automatic transmission. All technologies from 10 years ago.
Kia Sportage EV or e-Sportage (Click for more information)
This is a far cry from what the all-new 5th generation Kia Sportage will receive. In the case of the new global Sportage, the perennial best-seller Kia receives the latest 2.5-liter normally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine good for 190-hp and 182-pound feet of torque mated to 8-speed automatic transmission, the same powerplant found in the latest Kia K5 and Hyundai Sonata, which have been just released last year and offers the all-new Smartstream engine management system that features dual injection and the innovative Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) to make the engine more efficient and clean-running.
Kia has sold more than 5-million units of Sportage all around the world and manage to sell 360,000 units just last year despite the pandemic, to be ranked as the 7th bestselling SUV in the world.
Furthermore, the upcoming Sportage is to receive a pair of state-of-the-art hybrid engines from the platform sharing current generation Hyundai Tucson. These include a hybrid engine with a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine with a 44.2-kW electric motor, and a 1.49-kWh battery pack for a total output of 230 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque, and a plug-in hybrid engine that uses the same 1.6-liter turbo engine but has a more powerful 66.9-kW electric motor and a larger 13.8-kWh battery pack to produce a total of 261-hp and 258 pound-feet of torque that is capable achieving 35 miles or 56 km of pure electric range, needing 2-hours to charge using the level-2 charger. Both hybrid powerplants are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Also, for Europe, there is to be a myriad of mild hybrid options on gasoline and diesel engines.
Furthermore, it’s expected that the new Sportage will offer an electric version as well. Although no official information on the specification of the Sportage EV is released, we expect the next-generation pure electric powerplant to exceed that of the current Niro EV’s, and nearly matches that of the E-GMP-based EV6’s specifications. We anticipate that the Sportage will share mechanicals of the upcoming electrified GV70 or GV70e, as both cars are derivative electric cars based on the existing internal combustion engine cars, contrary to dedicated electric vehicles such as the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The upcoming Genesis GV70e derivative EV (click on the photo to find out more)
The GV70e will feature the same 800V charging architecture as the E-GMP-based cars to offer a phenomenal charging speed of just 22-minutes to charge to 80%. Although it’s a bit slower than that of the EV6’s incredible speed of 18 minutes, it’s still faster than the Porsche Taycan’s 22.5-minutes. The electrified Sportage will likely inherit the similar technology as the GV70e with the range that is expected to exceed that of the current Niro’s 240-miles, and achieve in excess of 250 miles or 400 km powered by a battery that’s at least 70-kWh in size. It’s also to feature all-wheel-drive via a dual-motor setup that would be good for about 260 hp. This puts the new Sportage electric comparable to a midrange EV6, but at a lower price. Also shared with the GV70e and other E-GMP-based EV’s are trademark V2L or Vehicle to Load function that supplies 3.6-kW of electricity to power domestic appliances for a typical home for 24-hours or charge another electric car.
The interior of the Sportage is expected to be just as high-tech too with the panoramic curved dual LCD screen that combines driver’s cluster and infotainment, very much like that of the Kia EV6’s. Also, the interior is expected to offer a similar styling as the latest Kia Sorento mixed with the flair of the EV6, resulting in a contemporary handsome design that will feature a higher level of interior appointments than that of the Hyundai Tucson counterpart with the usage of a two-tone color scheme and application of Alcantara in higher trim models, very similar to what we have seen in the EV6 interior.
Kia EV6 dedicated EV (click for more information)
Similar to EV6, the new Sportage is to receive the styling cue that features the lower character line that kinks up to meet with the rear tail lamp. This design feature has also been seen in the new Kia K8 sedan, which should have been a replacement for the Cadenza sedan until it was discontinued. However, unlike the EV6, which features a somewhat subdued version of the traditional Kia Tiger nose fascia called digital tiger face specifically for electric cars, the new Sportage will offer dramatic fascia with the oversized grill reminiscent of the Telluride with a headlamp that features fading LED signature that runs deep into the front fenders, just like what we have seen in the newest Sonata. The new-look can be polarizing but it’s sensational for sure. The rest of the body is handsome, traditional upright SUV that provides more room than Kia EV6. Despite the compact size of the new Sportage with the wheelbase measuring 108.5-inches or 2756 mm, compared to the EV6’s 114-inches or 2900mm, the boxier Sportage will have more passenger space of 108 cubic feet, and cargo volume of 39 cubic feet or 80 cubic feet with its rear seats folded, compare to the coupe-like proportioned EV6’s 102 cubic feet passenger space and 27.7 cubic feet of cargo space or 46 cubic feet with the 2nd row folded. Also, unlike the Chinese Sportage that comes in only one length of 103.9 inches or 2640 mm wheelbase, the global Sportage will also come in a short-wheelbase version that measures 105.5 inches or 2680 mm in wheelbase mainly for the European market.
So, when do we get to see this marvelous technological specimen in person?
The Korean media has just reported that the unveiling of the all-new Sportage is now postponed yet again until late 2022 from the revised launch date of June. The people that have been paying attention to this matter already have seen this coming, as Kia has recently released the 2022 model, which is just carryover. Just the fact that the latest 2022 model does not even feature the new Kia logo, shows how last minute the decision was for the company.
To our disappointment and dismay, there is a reason for this delay. As far as the new Sportage is concerned, the product is known to be already fully developed. The reason why they are postponing the unveiling is many folds.
First, they don’t want to see a backlash from the upset customers that can’t purchase what’s already been launched. Hyundai has already seen this in many of their latest offerings such as Ioniq 5 and EV6, where customers in North America are frustrated not knowing when they can actually place orders and at what prices. Therefore, it may be wise for Kia not to launch the new Sportage until they are certain when the new model can be produced.
This uncertainty for production comes from, of course, the automotive semiconductor shortage that is affecting the entire automotive industry. With modern cars becoming more technologically sophisticated, the need for semiconductors has skyrocketed, however, with the pandemic, the entire automotive industry came to a halt, disrupting the ongoing procurement needed to keep the parts flowing.
The various chips required in a modern car
And while the automotive chips weren’t being produced the chip makers around the world took in orders for the more profitable mobile and appliances application processor, which led to the automotive chips taking back seats when the orders were resumed, further adding to the chaos. The Hyundai group as a whole has announced that the crunch time would start in April 2021 and by May 2021, they would have virtually depleted all inventory of the semiconductors and other key components. With the order placed for additional chips, the industry expects that the supply will stabilize in the second half of the year. This is the reason why they are putting off confirming the production and delivery schedule until that happens.
So, you might be wondering why Sportage is keep being delayed when other new products such as the Ioniq 5, the EV6, and even a niche-market product like the Santa Cruz pickup truck are being launched on time.
Could this be happening because Kia thinks less of Sportage compared to other new models? No, actually, it’s just the opposite. The real reason behind why Sportage is being postponed is because it’s still selling really well. The current model that has been first introduced in 2016 as a 2017 model is still posting very strong sales of more than 80,000 units each year for the last few years in the US. In fact, it has sold more than 84,000 units in the pandemic stricken 2020, making it one of the best-selling SUVs in the US. Also, Kia has sold more than 5-million units of Sportage all around the world and manage to sell 360,000 units just last year despite the pandemic, to be ranked as the 7th bestselling SUV in the world. So, in a nutshell, Kia is not in a hurry to replace the well-selling current model with a new one.
Another reason for the postponement might be due to the fact that the platform sharing Hyundai Tucson, which has been just released, is not selling in explosive numbers as the company has anticipated. And it appears that the Hyundai group wants to see that Tucson is left alone and not be hindered by the introduction of Kia’s version of the same model, which will inevitably cut into Tucson sales.
The 5th-generation Kia Sportage (NQ5) Predictive Rendering by NY Mammoth
Interestingly, Kia’s sales have been exploding of late with the success of its SUV models such as Sportage, the new Sorento, and the ever-popular Telluride, as well as the popular subcompacts such as the K3. It’s selling so well that it’s actually about to overtake the bigger brother Hyundai in sales.
In the first quarter of 2021, Kia has sold 229,727 units compared to Hyundai’s 244,653 units, which excludes Genesis branded vehicles. This represents double the sale compared to the same period last year for Kia.
We are not sure if Hyundai would consider it shameful to lose out to a brand that they bought out years ago, especially now that products like the new EV6 are garnering more interest than the Ioniq 5. However, one thing for sure is that the Hyundai group can be more relaxed about the sales performance of Kia, and focus on fixing problems with Hyundai. In particular with the models such as the new Sonata, which is underperforming not only in North America but in the native Korean domestic market where the new K5 sedan has outsold the platform-sharing and the perennial best-selling Hyundai Sonata by a big margin for the first time in 10-years. The all-new Sorento has accomplished the same feat against the Hyundai Santa Fe by selling 57.2% more than the previous year. In both incidences, it’s reported that the styling of the vehicle played a large part.
So, would Kia’s streak of putting out a great-looking car over its sibling Hyundai continue for the next generation Sportage, and help to put Kia in the top position within the group? Only time will tell, although that time is still uncertain. But we anticipate that the unveiling of the 5th generation Kia Sportage will happen sometime in the fall of 2021, and the product ready to sell by the beginning of 2022 as a 2023 model. The estimated prices will range from $25,000 for the base gasoline model, $30,000 for the hybrid, and $35,000 for the plug-in hybrid, to about $40,000 for the pure-electric variant.
We have a question for you. What would be your choice? Buy a Hyundai Tucson now, or wait for the new Kia Sportage or even the Sportage EV? Please click on the video link to watch the video and vote!
WATCH THE FULL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/8vJAvgrjxvo