Ah, the Kia Sportage. It feels like one of those under-the-radar cars that sell in very reasonable numbers, but they aren’t necessarily the first medium-SUV you think of.

That’s not to say it isn’t a competent SUV. While we haven’t driven (or reviewed) one for 6 years, I still recall it as being a well-put-together SUV, and a great allrounder.

For the 2022 model year, Kia has gone hard-out with an upgrade to bring the design into their current look, as well as tech upgrades and a new interior. As a nice surprise, Kia is bucking recent trends and includes four diesel models in their eight-model Sportage line-up.

Time to put the top-spec 2021 Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel to the test.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Kia Sportage X-Line diesel

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Interior space
Lack of diesel engine noise
Ride quality
Build quality
Equipment levels
Around View Monitor
Blind Spot Monitor
Nothing worth mentioning

What’s In The 2022 Kia Sportage Range?

There are 8 models to choose from in the Sportage line up, 4 with petrol and 4 with a diesel option:

  1. LX Urban $39,990
  2. LX Urban Plus $41,990
  3. Deluxe $49,990
  4. X-Line $57,990
  5. LX Diesel: $46,990
  6. LX Plus Diesel: $49,990
  7. Deluxe Diesel: $52,990
  8. X-Line Diesel: $62,990

The LX Urban and LX Urban Plus are powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol motor with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The engine manages 115kW of power and 192Nm of torque and should return 8.1L/100Km of petrol. These models are front-wheel-drive – all other models are all-wheel-drive.

The Deluxe and X-Line have a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch (DCT) automatic gearbox. Power is 132kW and torque 265Nm. Petrol consumption is listed at 7.2L/100Km.

The diesel engine is the same across the range; a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo motor with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The diesel outputs 137kW of power and 416Nm of torque, with diesel consumption listed at 6.3L/100Km in the combined cycle.

2022 Kia Sportage LX Urban or LX Diesel Standard Equipment Highlights

  • Electric park brake with auto hold
  • Forward Collision Avoidance with Car, Pedestrian, Cyclist and Junction feature
  • Blind Spot Collision Avoidance
  • Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Assist
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Lane Follow Assist
  • Driver Attention Alert
  • Trailer Stability Assist
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Downhill Brake Control
  • Manual Speed Limiter
  • Rear Seat Occupant Alert
  • Speed-Sensing Auto Door Lock
  • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist
  • Front and Rear Parking Sensors
  • LED headlights
  • LED DRLs
  • Heated and electric folding exterior mirrors
  • Solar Glass (Windscreen and Front Doors)
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Height Adjust Driver’s Seat
  • 8” centre touchscreen
  • 4.2” Colour Driver’s Information Display
  • 6-speaker Audio
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Go
  • Automatic Headlights
  • Automatic Welcome Lights
  • 17” Alloy Wheels
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

2022 Kia Sportage LX Urban Plus or LX Plus Diesel Additional Equipment Highlights

  • 18” Alloy Wheels
  • Privacy Glass
  • Leather Gear Lever Gaitor
  • Remote Folding 2nd Row Seats
  • 12.3” Centre Touchscreen
  • 12.3” Driver’s Information Display
  • SatNav
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
  • Auto-dipping Rearview Mirror
  • Automatic Wipers

2022 Kia Sportage Deluxe or Deluxe Diesel Additional Equipment Highlights

  • 19” Alloy Wheels
  • LED Front Foglights
  • Paddle Shifters
  • 2-way Electric Lumbar Adjust For Driver’s Seat
  • Power Driver’s Seat Adjust
  • 3-Stage Heated Front Seats
  • 8-Speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound System
  • Wireless Phone Charging
  • Keyless Entry and Engine Start
  • Electric Tailgate

2022 Kia Sportage X-Line or X-Line Diesel Additional Equipment Highlights

  • Blind Spot View Monitor
  • Parking Collision Avoidance Assist – Reverse
  • Around View Monitor (360-Degree Camera System)
  • LED Projection Headlamps
  • LED Rear Lights
  • Panoramic Electric Sunroof
  • E-Shift Dial
  • Power Front Seats
  • Memory Settings for Driver’s Seat
  • 3-Stage Ventilated Front Seats
  • Alloy Pedals
  • Interior Mood Lighting
  • Luggage Net

Note that due to the SatNav feature on the Deluxe or X-Line models, they lose the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They still have Car Play and Auto functionality, but you need to plug in via a USB cable to make it work. 

For a full list of specs and options available for the 2022 Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel, hop on over to the Kia New Zealand website.

How Does The 2022 Kia Sportage X-Line diesel Compare To Its Competition?

If this comparison table shows anything, it’s that there’s strong competition from the Fortuner: higher towing capacity and 7 seats, for slightly less cash.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
SeatsFuel L/100kmTowing
Hyundai Tucson CRDi Limited1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel100/32055.21,650620$72,990
Skoda Kodiaq TDI Sportline2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel147/40075.42,000720$72,990
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport VRX2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel135/43778.03,100502$68,990
Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel137/41656.31,650543$62,990
Peugeot 5008 GT2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel130/40054.71,500952$62,990
Toyota Fortuner Limited2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel150/50078.63,100520$62,790

First Impressions Of The 2022 Kia Sportage X-Line diesel

Well, there’s no one can say that Kia isn’t taking a chance on its design with the Sportage. It’s out there, carrying Kia’s “Tiger” face, and a whole lot more angles and sticky-outy bits at the front.

Have they pulled it off? Opinions were divided, and one totally unscientific poll on the frontal design was torn 50/50. For me, I love it. It’s different, it’s sharp and edgy, and it looks great in the Jungle Wood Green that our test car was finished in.

The rest of the design isn’t as edgy as the front, but still very pleasing. There’s some nice symmetry around the back, with the taillight design mirroring the daytime running lights at the front of the car. 

Side on, there’s some stylish sculpting and with those 19” alloy wheels and the green paint, it looks stunning from that angle.

All in all, for me at least it’s high marks for the redesign of the Sportage.

What’s The Interior Like In The  2022 Kia Sportage X-Line diesel?

We’ve been saying this about Kia for a while now; their interior has moved up into euro design style and quality. Everything in the interior of the car feels great to the touch, and the build quality is excellent.

Even the ‘satin chrome’ door handles are both beautifully designed and made. They may be made of plastic, but they look quality and look gorgeous. It’s yet another design touch that Kia has done to lift the whole perceived value and status of the interior. There’s some nice ‘wood’ (plastic) featured on the doors and dashboard, too. It actually feels quite nice, not plasticky at all, and doesn’t detract from the quality of the interior when that could happen, if done wrong.

Still on the door and possibly my only (small) criticism of the interior, is the drink bottle holder. It’s not made for anything large, and I had to force my drink bottle to go into the holder and drag it out again when needed. A small niggle, but a valid one.

The driver has alloy pedals in the X-Line model, and on the other side of the car is an average-sized glovebox.

There’s an enormous panoramic sunroof in the X-Line, and that’s lucky as the interior is all black and pretty dark. I can only imagine what it’s like without that huge sunroof. The sunroof is a tilt/slide affair and has an electric blind. The sunroof part doesn’t actually slide back that far, but the pop-up wind deflector does a great job of reducing buffeting on the motorway.

One of the biggest visual and tech changes to the interior of the 2021 Sportage X-Line Diesel must be those two huge screens. The centre touchscreen is 12.3” and the dash screen is also 12.3”. The resolution of both screens is excellent, and Kia’s UI system is simple and usable. Admittedly, a few times during our test the centre screen refused to come on when starting the car, but I expect this was particular to our test car.

Under the AC controls is a Qi wireless phone charging pad, and like many Kia (and Hyundai) models we’ve seen lately, it includes a fan in the base to help keep your phone cool while charging. This area also has a 12-volt socket, along with a single USB-A port and also a single USB-C port. Great to see some manufacturers are including both types for the time being. Above this area is a (piano) black sliding cover, so once your phone is on charge you can slide the cover down and reduce the temptation to look at it.

Moving backwards, on the piano-black centre console, there are controls for Hill Descent Control, the 360-degree camera, transmission selector knob, the Drive mode/terrain selection knob, and other controls. It would have been nice to see something other than a piano black finish in an area that’s going to have a lot of touching, as within days this area was full of smudgy fingerprints.

The screen in front of the driver is pretty crisp and clear, and you can select from 4 themes. Three of these have digital but an analogue-looking speedo and rev counter, while the Dynamic theme is a bit funkier. Weirdly, the dynamic theme shows the revs as (for example) 1.7×1000 for 1,700RPM. Not easy for my poor brain to compute quickly, but who really looks at the rev counter in a diesel, anyway?

While this isn’t the Sorento, there’s plenty of room for all in the cabin of this car. Rear legroom is excellent, and headroom is good – if a little restricted by the electric sunroof. The wheelbase has been extended for this generation of Sportage, and it shows.

Back seat passengers have access to a USB-C port on the backs of the front seats, as well as air vents in the centre console and some clothing hooks on the rear of the front headrests. The design of these ‘hooks’ means they are pretty much perfect for holding a phone while it’s charging. They aren’t made for this but it works. The rear seat has a few reclining positions, so along with the legroom your rear passengers would have a pretty nice space to live for a long trip. 

The boot is on the larger side at 543 litres, and it’s a nicely usable space too. Under the floor is a full-size alloy spare, with space around it to put bits and pieces that we all drag around, but never use.

The X-Line has an electric tailgate, operated by the keyfob, by a button on the dash, or by simply standing next to it for three seconds with the keyfob in your pocket. On the whole, this is a welcome feature especially if you were standing there with arms full of groceries and didn’t want to start kicking your foot under the car, as some other brands do. But it did catch me out a few times when I was standing near the rear of the car and wasn’t expecting the door to open.

What’s The 2022 Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel Like To Drive?

On getting into the driver’s seat, I think if there was one thing I was thankful for it was that Kia have not moved to haptic controls for the steering wheel. We’re seeing so many Euro brands doing this, and if there’s one thing that doesn’t work on a car, it’s haptic controls on the steering wheel. Kia has some of the simplest and best steering wheel controls out there, and basically, they haven’t changed – and they don’t need to. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Kia has obviously taken that to heart.

On heading away from the dealership, I was so happy that Kia have stuck with offering a diesel model. While it’s not the most modern or non-polluting diesel engine, it’s extremely smooth and oh so torquey. This car is a joy to drive if simply for that diesel engine. It’s also relatively quiet, perhaps a little rattly at idle but only just so. On the day-to-day, it’s a model of excellence and if I was in the market for a Sportage, I’d only be looking at the diesel. It really is that good of an engine.

Mated to that engine is an equally excellent 8-speed automatic gearbox. Some of the petrol models have a dual-clutch automatic, and so this is another reason to go diesel – they all come with a straight 8-speed auto. Kia’s dual-clutch automatic is not the smoothest at low speeds, whereas the X-Line is smooth all the way. It holds the gears nicely too, making the most of that 416Nm of torque. I think one of the main takeaways for me on this car is that the motor/gearbox combo is an excellent match.

Kia has added “Active Sound Design” to the settings for the Sportage. This means that you can select from Off, Sport, Normal, or Enhanced, and the engine sound will change for you. Or so it should, at least. I couldn’t notice any difference at all, and neither could any passengers I had. Nice try, but needs work – or simply don’t worry about it. The engine sounds just fine as it is without any digital enhancement.

Still on sounds, as usual, there’s Kia’s Quiet Mode for audio. In this mode, volume maxes out at 25% and is delivered to the front speakers only. This is ideal for those with babies or toddlers who are crashed out in the back and you simply DO NOT want them to wake up but still want your tunes. Audio quality in general is very good. Not exceptional, but should be good enough for most drivers. As mentioned, the steering wheel controls for the audio are near-on perfect, but the passenger also has control via the knobs on the centre of the dash.

Those knobs and the soft buttons between them are dynamic. There is a small icon that shows an AC fan lower down, and a SatNav icon high up. Depending on which one you touch will change the buttons and knobs. So if you have it on SatNav, the knobs are for volume/track (or station) selection and the buttons will relate to audio, but if you touch the AC fan icon, the knobs control the air temperature and the buttons now change to relate to AC. It’s a bit of a mindset change, but it works well in practice.

Other sounds? Wind noise is reasonably well subdued, as is road noise. The tyres can get a bit vocal at times – especially on coarse chip seal and sometimes on asphalt as well – but overall, the cabin is well insulated. On the motorway, the diesel engine is almost imperceptible.

Motorway driving is really where the 2022 Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel shines. With gallons of torque, a quiet motor and an excellent automatic gearbox, motorway travel is too easy and extremely pleasant. I could see this car nailing a Wellington to Auckland trip in comfort – and not using much diesel to boot. In fact, while Kia says that this model should use 6.3L/100Km of diesel in combined use, over 700Km of driving I got 7.4L/100Km out of it. Okay, this is more than the manufacturer, but still an excellent result for a 2-litre motor. The car showed 700Km of range when I picked it up, and after 700Km of driving, it still had almost 100Km of range left. All the more reason to avoid the petrol models, which are stated at between 8.0 and 9.0L/100Km? I believe so.

While none of the Sportage models has adaptive LED headlights, they are very good regardless. Spread and depth are excellent, and there is the automatic high-beam option which actually works very well.

This model is fitted with Remote Parking Assist, for getting the car into or out of tight car parks. Let’s say you return to your Sportage X-Line Diesel, and some jerk has parked so close to your Sportage that you simply can’t get in the car. You can use the buttons on the keyfob to move the car, without you in it. The buttons will start the engine, and then you can move it forward (or backward) until you can get into the car. If someone walks in front of the car, it will stop so there’s no danger of running someone over. It’s a bit fiddly to get the system working – the car has to be locked first, so if it’s unlocked, you need to remember to lock it, and then press the button to start the engine. Still, it’s there and I can see some use for this system in certain circumstances.

As well as not running over someone using the Remote Parking Assist feature, the car has oodles of other safety systems. We seemed to have finally crossed a line here, where safety systems are maturing to the point where they aren’t freaking out on the road when it’s not necessary. I don’t recall a time with the Sportage where it accidentally told me to brake or do something else when it wasn’t needed. The car does chime when you are approaching a school and that’s a nice touch – but there’s no indication that that’s what it’s for – I just worked out that was happening. A pop-up on the dash showing the reason for the ‘bing’ would be great.

There is blind-spot monitoring, naturally, and like some other Kia/Hyundai models, you can see your blind spots via the cameras on the mirrors that Kia calls Around View Monitor. When you indicate left, your speedo on the left will switch to the left-hand camera so you can check there is nothing there you can hit. Indicating right, the rev counter changes to the right-hand camera. It works brilliantly and adds a nice comfort level to your driving experience. This camera system came Runner Up in our 2021 Best Gadget Of The Year award.

Another safety feature that’s greatly appreciated is the haptic system for blind-spot monitoring. Let’s say you are backing out of your driveway and a car is coming up on your left, the steering wheel will vibrate to let you know. There’s still an audible alert as well but if you have your sounds cranked up too high, you might not hear it. Having the steering wheel vibrate for alerts like this is excellent. There are so many safety systems in the Sportage, we now take them for granted. For example, if you are parallel parked and go to open your door and there’s a car coming, you’ll get an audible alert to let you know. It’s systems like this that can save lives.

Those two new screens are certainly lifting the bar – and expectations of buyers – in this segment. They’re a real talking point, and while the Kia UI doesn’t seem to have any sort of an upgrade with the screens, it works well and is pretty intuitive. There can be a little lag between screens, but overall it’s more than acceptable. The Sportage has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but you’ll still need to plug in a USB cable since it’s only wireless system in the base models. I did try using a USB-C cable for Apple CarPlay, but the system wouldn’t let me, so switch to a USB-A cable and all was well. 

We’ve said this before about some Kia models, but it’s strange that you can’t use the voice recognition system from the steering wheel button unless you have your phone plugged in via a USB cable. So if you’re connected via Bluetooth and want to use voice recognition, it isn’t going to work. Not the end of the world, but a strange anomaly.

Since it’s the all-wheel-drive (AWD) model, you do get some sort of control for light offroading in your Sportage. The drive mode knob doubles as the Terrain control, so pressing it down (instead of turning it) will let you pick from Snow, Mud, or Sand. There’s also Hill Descent Control for those muddy downhill slopes on your lifestyle block. Turning the knob adjusts your drive modes, and you can choose from Eco, Normal, Sport, or Smart. I’m happy to report the car remembers which mode you pick, so will stay in Eco mode for all time if you desire. 

Honestly, with so much torque you could leave this car in Eco mode 24/7, 365 days a year. I left it in Smart mode, so the car would choose for me depending on the driving conditions and my driving style. Sport mode? Diesel engines and Sport modes don’t really go together. The last thing you want is the car to hold onto gears when you have so much low-end torque.

The petrol and diesel X-Line models of Sportage have ‘E-Shift’, which is a drive knob instead of a selector. It works well in practice – compared to others – and is relatively quick to go into gear. I don’t think anyone is going to be able to stop all automatic transmissions moving to a knob-type of selector, so you’d better get used to it.

Handling on the Sportage is mostly very good, bordering on excellent. For what it is, it grips the corners well and doesn’t have too much body roll. It feels safe on the twisty bits, and that’s all you could hope for. The steering could use more feedback, but that isn’t what the Sportage is about. The brakes are certainly up to this, and just on the day-to-day drive they are more than powerful enough for average driving and can be modulated perfectly. 

2022 Kia Sportage X-Line diesel – Specifications

Vehicle Type5-door, medium AWD SUV
Starting Price$62,990
Price as Tested$62,990
Engine2.0-litre, 4-cylinder diesel-turbo
Power, Torque
Transmission8-speed automatic
Spare WheelFull-size alloy
Kerb Weight, Kg1,575
Length x Width x Height
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.3
Real-World Test – Combined – 7.4
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 Years, 100,000Km
5 Years Roadside Assist
Safety informationANCAP Rating – yet to be testedRightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NZS884

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.
2022-kia-sportage-x-line-diesel-car-review<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>I was expecting the 2021 Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel to be polished, refined and well equipped, and I wasn’t let down. But I was surprised at just how good it has become.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>For me, the most surprising thing was just how good that diesel engine and 8-speed automatic went together. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve been in a diesel, but the pairing made everyday driving an absolute breeze, and very enjoyable.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>We’ve been huge fans of the Mazda CX-5 here at DriveLife for quite a few years, but there’s a very worthy contender for that title in the Kia Sportage X-Line Diesel. I went back over my notes again and again trying to find something worth putting in the “what we don’t like” section, but honestly, there was nothing. It’s an excellent SUV.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->


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