Over in the US, Kia has unveiled a version of the new Sportage that looks purpose-built for a bush-bashing trip in outback Australia
Kia has unveiled the North American version of the Sportage midsize SUV with a trio of rugged off-road-focused variants sitting at the top of the range.
The American-market Sportage shares much of its equipment of the Australian version that is set to go on sale locally within days.
The biggest difference to the Australian-spec 2022 Sportage is that the American car has three distinct adventure-focused trim levels called the X-Line, X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige, all of which ride several centimetres higher than the regular range.
Kia Australia media and corporate communications manager Alyson MacDonald was tightlipped about the potential for an off road variant, even as a special edition, but didn’t rule it out either.
“(We’re) not currently planning to offer a special edition however, it has a five-year life-cycle so could possibly do so in the future,” she told Chasing Cars.
While a unibody vehicle like the Sportage likely won’t stand up to this punishment of a frame-based off roader like a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Ranger ute, the added accessories could make a good compromise for SUV buyers – and they just look cool, too.
It’s not the first time Kia America has given one of its SUVs some rough-road treatment, previously unveiled two concept versions of the Sorento large SUV that looked tough.
All versions of the US Sportage feature a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 139kW of power and 241 of torque, that is also found – in turbocharged guise – in the Australian-market Hyundai Sonata N Line.
It’s coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the aforementioned off-road-focused grades are equipped with all-wheel drive and a 38mm suspension lift as standard.
The Sportage X-Line features unique black front and rear bumpers with a satin chrome surround combined with match side skirts that provide a more hardy appearance while inside Kia has trimmed the seats in synthetic leather seats.
Kia has also raised the height of the separated roof rails to accommodate more gear on a weekend away though the accompanying 19-inch wheels and skinny tyres aren’t well suited to off-roading activities.
The Sportage X-Pro builds on the appearance features of the X-Line, but backs it up with hardware designed to bring this vehicle’s trail capability up in line with rivals like the Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester.
Most notably, the Sportage X-Pro fits 17-inch matte black alloy wheels wrapped in chunky BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres that are designed to take a bit more punishment.
It’s backed up by Kia’s Multi-terrain mode that features normal, sport, smart and snow modes and LED fog lights for some added versatility.
In the US where drivers frequently face cold conditions, buyers will appreciate the heated windscreen and wiper washer nozzle to ward off the ice.
The Sportage X-Pro Prestige adds LED headlights and niceties such as ventilated front seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver.
Time will tell if these rough-and-ready versions of the Sportage make it to Australia but given our ferocious appetite for all things off-road it would likely be popular with many local buyers.
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