2017 Kia Sportage vs Subaru Forester

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Although it might look a lot more like a wagon than a traditional SUV, the Subaru Forester has some impressive capability and a small but devoted band of fans. But can it truly compare to one of the more popular crossover SUVs on the market, the 2017 Kia Sportage? Let’s see how they compare when they’re put side by side.

2017 Kia Sportage vs Subaru Forester

Styling: Kia Sportage

Kia has been on its styling game lately, and nowhere in the range is that more apparent than the latest Sportage. The Kia Sportage has a muscular and aggressive design that’s likely to stand the test of time. If you are looking for a rugged appeal without the features (and price tag) associated with that look, the Sportage has what you want.

You can’t hide the tall wagon styling of the Subaru Forester, which, except for the ride height, doesn’t have a lot in common with what you might imagine an SUV to look like. Of course, if a wagon is your jam, the Subaru is a great choice–especially if you’re looking to pair it with SUV capability. But if you’re looking for an SUV, we’re thinking you’d like it to look the part.

Power and Performance: Kia Sportage

Four-cylinder engines are the order of the day with the Sportage, with one being naturally aspirated and the other being a turbo. The non-turbo is a 2.4-liter unit that develops 181 horsepower, while the turbo is a 2.0-liter that puts an impressive 240 horsepower at your disposal. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard with both engines, but all-wheel drive is also available.

The Forester 2.5i models have a 2.5-liter flat-four under the hood that puts out 170 horsepower, which is a little below expectations these days for this type of car. The Forester 2.0XT is an entirely different animal, though–a 2.0-liter direct-injected flat-four that produces 250 horsepower. The smaller engine comes mated to a six-speed manual or a CVT, while the larger engine is unfortunately CVT-only. The base engine is less powerful than the Sportage’s, and the Forester doesn’t come with a traditional automatic transmissions–both of these things may be a turnoff for buyers.

Interior Comfort and Quality: Kia Sportage

Don’t let the fact the Kia Sportage is one of the smaller models in its class tempt you into thinking that the interior won’t be your favorite, because you’ll be wrong. Kia has pulled off interior magic by making the absolute best use of the space available, giving you both space and comfort as well as flexibility. The Sportage’s seats can adapt to your needs, support passengers well, and impress you with the quality of the materials–all at the same time. For a reasonably priced SUV, the Sportage’s finishes are actually quite impressive, giving the Sportage an edge over its competitors.

As you might expect looking from the outside, the Forester focuses on space and utility over luxury and style. The mix of materials is, well, mixed, but the abundance of space is nearly unmatched in this class. The seats are not as supportive as they could be, though, and utilitarian feel is not to everyone’s taste.

Fuel Economy: Subaru Forester

Base LX versions of the Kia Sportage are rated at 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and the 2.4-liter engine. Clearly, the Kia strikes an outstanding balance between efficiency, which makes budget-conscious drivers happy, and performance, which makes everyone happy.

With the 2.5-liter engine and CVT transmission, the Subaru Forester is rated by the EPA at 26 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider all-wheel drive is standard, so this round definitely goes to the Subaru.

Learn More about the Kia Sportage

If practicality is your main focus when looking for a new compact crossover, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than the Subaru Forester. But if other factors, such as style, comfort, and desirability are on your list of must-haves, the 2017 Kia Sportage is the winner by a mile. While the Forester is known for its space and practicality, the Sportage competes well in these areas too. For the best overall value, the Kia Sportage is the best bet every time.