2019 Kia Sportage vs. 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/26

The Sportage has standard head airbag curtains for front and rear seats that act as a forgiving barrier between the driver and outboard passenger's upper bodies and the window and pillars. Combined with high-strength steel door beams and lower side airbags this system increases head protection in broadside collisions. The Wrangler JL doesn't offer side airbag protection for the head and are only available for the front seats.

The Sportage (except LX) offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Wrangler JL doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Sportage (except LX)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Sportage offers optional Parking Assist to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Sportage uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Wrangler JL uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the Sportage and the Wrangler JL have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sportage the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 91 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Wrangler JL has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The Sportage comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Wrangler JL’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Sportage 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Jeep covers the Wrangler JL. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Wrangler JL ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Sportage’s reliability 22 points higher than the Wrangler JL.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage second among small suvs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Wrangler JL isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 66 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 28th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Jeep is ranked 20th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Sportage SX Turbo AWD turbo 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Wrangler JL Auto V6 (20 city/23 hwy vs. 18 city/23 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Sportage uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Wrangler JL with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

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The Kia Sportage comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Wrangler JL.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Sportage stops much shorter than the Wrangler JL:

 

Sportage

Wrangler JL

 

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

144 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

163 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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The Sportage LX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Wrangler JL Sport’s standard 75 series tires. The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Wrangler JL Sahara’s 70 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sportage SX Turbo has standard 19-inch wheels. The Wrangler JL’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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The Kia Sportage’s independent front suspension is much lighter than the Jeep Wrangler JL’s solid front axle, which allows the Sportage’s wheels to react more quickly and accurately to the road’s surface, improving both ride and handling.

For superior ride and handling, the Kia Sportage has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Jeep Wrangler JL has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

Chassis

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The Kia Sportage may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 650 to 700 pounds less than the Jeep Wrangler JL.

The Sportage is 12 inches shorter than the Wrangler JL 4-door, making the Sportage easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Sportage is 9.2 inches shorter in height than the Wrangler JL, making the Sportage much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

Unibody construction lowers the Sportage’s center of gravity significantly without reducing ground clearance. This contributes to better on the road handling and better off-road performance and stability. In addition, unibody construction makes the chassis stiffer, improving handling and reducing squeaks and rattles. The Wrangler JL uses body-on-frame design instead.

For excellent aerodynamics, the Sportage LX/EX has standard flush composite headlights. The Wrangler JL has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space

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For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Sportage’s rear seats recline. The Wrangler JL’s rear seats don’t recline.

The front step up height for the Sportage is 6.5 inches lower than the Wrangler JL 4-door (18.5” vs. 25”). The Sportage’s rear step up height is 6.4 inches lower than the Wrangler JL 4-door’s (19.4” vs. 25.8”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Sportage’s cargo area is larger than the Wrangler JL’s in almost every dimension:

 

Sportage

Wrangler JL 2-door

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

33.4”/68.2”

n/a

Max Width

52.3”

n/a

Min Width

41”

n/a

Height

29.5”

30”

The Sportage’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Wrangler JL 2-door’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.

The Sportage’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The Wrangler JL’s swing out door blocks loading from the driver’s side.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Sportage’s power cargo door can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Sportage’s power cargo door can also be opened or closed by pressing a button. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening cargo door.

Ergonomics

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The Sportage’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Wrangler JL Sport S/Sahara/Rubicon.

The Sportage EX/SX Turbo’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control. The Wrangler JL ’s driver’s power window switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

The Sportage’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Wrangler JL’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

The Sportage’s standard power locks allow the driver or passenger to lock or unlock all the doors at a touch without leaning over, or reaching to the back seat. Power locks are only available on the Wrangler JL Sport S/Sahara/Rubicon.

The Sportage has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the Sportage to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Sportage has a standard rear wiper. A rear wiper costs extra on the Wrangler JL.

The Sportage has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Wrangler JL has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Sport S/Sahara/Rubicon.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Sportage (except LX) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Sportage SX Turbo has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Sportage has standard power remote mirrors. The Wrangler JL Sport doesn’t offer either a remote driver side or passenger side mirror. The driver will have to roll down the windows and reach across the car to adjust the mirrors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Sportage (except LX) keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the Sportage and the Wrangler JL offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Sportage has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Model Availability

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The Sportage is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Wrangler JL doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/26

The Kia Sportage has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

Sportage

Wrangler JL

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

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