The 2020 Kia Sportage embodies some of my favorite traits of the Kia brand: it's a cleanly styled vehicle with a suite of features that ends up being surprisingly affordable. The suite of features in this case just happens to include a wide suite of active safety features, all-wheel drive, and a surprisingly fun driving experience.

Ok, I wasn't too surprised. Tre Vaughn, sales associate at Roger Johnson's Grand West Kia told me about it first. Vaughn liked the Sportage so much that he personally owns one, so he was his own best infotainment center when describing it.

He didn't have just one favorite feature as well. I've loved cars before: I can recognize the signs in others, and Vaughn loves his Sportage. "The mileage on it was much better than I expected," he told me. "I drove to Denver and ended up arriving with a half tank left."

It's a whole package, though. "I love the comfort — the drive. And the interior. But also the way it handles and rides."

Then, like a switch on the console, he remembered: "And it has driving modes." Then a knowing smile: "It has Sport mode."

I've played with different sport modes in Kias before. I smiled back. "Oh yes."

In fact, those Sport modes are indicative of that Kia brand: only what you want, and very little you don't.

On the road, I was having so much fun on my drive that I forgot about the Sport mode. It was on normal mode (ECO mode is the third mode, and focuses on fuel efficiency). Normal mode balances efficiency and performance, which is good for, well, normal driving. Sport mode is for when you need to accelerate with alacrity, or simpy to just enjoy the drive to enjoy the drive.

I took the Sportage up Unaweep Canyon, where it effortlessly handled the climb. I drove up without the Lane Keeping Assist function, which was turned off in the very customizable driver's menu.

On the way back, I turned it on and it was a huge difference. While I'm not, I feel, an idiot (i.e. someone who would drive down a canyon road, literally between a rock and a hard place most of the way with his hand off of the steering wheel), I did experience the powerful Kia lane keeping system, which has leapt in the years since I've played with one.

It felt, just almost, like the Sportage was on rails, enhancing my normal careful curve handling. It felt a little off, for me, and I realized why: it has different ideas of where it wants you in the lane. I usually hug the inside when I'm alone on the road, and then hug the outside when crossing paths with a car. The lane keeping assist wanted me right in the middle. It was, oddly, both unnerving and reassuring. I invite you to experience the sensation for yourself.

The interior was clean,sharply and simply designed, with Kia's excellent infotainment system, including Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

The panoramic sunroof surprised and delighted me — it appeared quite suddenly when I was button pressing, trying to shade the cabin for photos. It's huge (see photo to far right).

The all wheel drive is the perfect winter accessory, and it's time to start thinking about snow (or in the Grand Valley's case, mud, mostly), so right now is a great time to check out the Sportage at Roger Johnson's Grand West Kia to find an SUV/crossover packed with value.

The dealership has one more, non-Sportage related, in that they are Grand Junction's newest U-Haul neighborhood dealer, including U-Haul trucks, towing equipment, moving supplies & boxes. Look for more information to come.

Test Drive

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