2014 Kia Sportage


2014 Kia Sportage
$21,750 base MRSP
21/28 MPG (advertised)
0.0 MPG (no real-world mpg, as I didn’t fill this one up)

Overall Impressions:

This was a surprisingly good little SUV. It was pretty comfortable, and seemed to not have any major flaws.

But as with last week’s Hyundai Sonata, doing everything “just ok” seems to not be the answer. Yes, it’s a good little SUV–but it should be more than that.

Also wish I’d have gotten real-world MPG on this one, especially given the fiasco Kia had recently with overstating mileage on the Soul.

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): B

Headroom: B+

Good headroom–but you’d expect that in (even a small) SUV.

Mirror Location: A-

The mirror could be adjusted to where it was acceptable. Still, I just never feel that the mirror isn’t interfering with visibility to the right.

Headrest: B-

Wish the headrest was better.

Legroom: B

Good legroom–but again it’s an SUV–it should have good legroom.

Seat Comfort: B

The seats felt reasonable. But similar to the Hyundai, I felt the material was a bit “cheap” and might make me worry about long-term durability.

 Vehicle Review

Engine: C+

Borderline–the Kia could really use a few more ponies under the hood. Then again, it wasn’t awful–just ok.

Transmission: B

The transmission seemed to be a bit better than most. Was fairly smooth in shifts.

Interior: B

Just an average interior. What you’d expect for a low-priced vehicle.

Visibility: B

Decent visibility, but it’s an SUV–it should have good visibility.

Still too much of a sloped nose to know where the front of the car is–parking will be a challenge.

Electronics: C

Basics, and nothing more.

Utility: B+

A bit more utility than the average four-door econobox. But worse gas mileage.

Appearance: C

Boring. Just another little SUV. None of them really look any different though (so can’t fault Kia here–well, maybe I can–the Soul is different, so why couldn’t they have a bit more inspired styling for the Sportage?)

 Miscellaneous Musings:

Can’t see myself buying this vehicle. Like the Hyundai Sonata, it did nothing really poorly, but neither was it exceptional. Just dull, and uninspired.

Thinking about it, the Hyundai Sonata might be a better choice–less utility, but better mileage. All else being equal, the Sonata is a better choice, although the Sportage does offer AWD.

But do you really want to own a car because it “sucks the least”?

2014 Hunydai Sonata


2014 Hyundai Sonata
$21,150 base MRSP (2015)
25/37 MPG (advertised)
28.7 MPG (real-world, over a week of driving–not bad, and right on the “combined” estimate of 29 MPG!)

Overall Impressions:

I liked this car a lot more than I thought I would. Seemed to have more pickup than last week’s Ford Fusion. It had smaller “A” pillars (don’t get me wrong they were still big, but not as bad as the Fusion’s) and gas mileage was significantly better.

But the style was…ok. The Fusion is a better looking car. Wish I could blend the two–might really have something!

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): B-

Headroom: B+

Headroom was acceptable. Nothing to shout home about, but my head wasn’t scraping the headliner.

Mirror Location: A-

The mirror location was also acceptable. Still think there is room for improvement, but I could live with this.

Headrest: B+

Also not bad, but I still knew the headrest was there. Really wish they could just go back to normal headrests.

Legroom: B+

Didn’t feel legroom was an issue, but I’m still waiting for the car that makes me move the seat up to be comfortable (it hasn’t happened yet).

Seat Comfort: B

Good seats–wish the material was a bit better–had a cheap feel (and wondering if it will last) but the seat comfort was acceptable.

 Vehicle Review

Engine: B

Didn’t set the world on fire, but I didn’t feel like I would be in danger if I suddenly needed to pass someone.

Transmission: B

Seemed to be acceptable.

Interior: B

Basic interior. Wish there was more I could say–there isn’t.

Visibility: B

A passing grade here, but with such a sloping nose you’re still going to be “parking by feel”.

Electronics: C+

Again, basic transportation.

Utility: B

Just another econobox. Four doors and a trunk.

Appearance: C+

Line up the sedan offerings from Hyundai, Kia, Chevy, Nissan–bet you can’t tell most of them apart.

 Miscellaneous Musings:

Again, I liked this car more than I thought I would, but when writing my review I realize it’s scoring is average pretty much across the board.

Maybe it’s that nothing is really awful with this car–but also nothing is really great either.

Sad commentary on cars today, that a vehicle that doesn’t stand out for being mediocre–that doesn’t “fail”–is what makes it rise above the crowd.

Cars should inspire, and as well-rounded as this one is, it just doesn’t inspire. I can’t see myself announcing with pride to my friends: “Hey–I just bought a Hyundai Sonata!”

That makes it tough to spend $21,000 on “just average”.