2020 Kia Sportage vs. 2019 Fiat 500L

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Sportage are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500L doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Sportage has standard Forward Collision Assist, 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 500L doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Sportage offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500L doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Sportage’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The 500L 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 500L doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

To help make backing safer, the Sportage’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 500L doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Sportage’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 500L doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Sportage and the 500L have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Kia Sportage is safer than the 500L:

Sportage

500L

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

2 cm

14 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Femur Force R/L

2.4/.1 kN

10.1/3.9 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

63%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.52/.68

.88/.82

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sportage the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500L was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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 500L’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Sportage 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500L. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the 500L ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 84 percent more Kia dealers than there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Sportage’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Sportage has a standard 600-amp battery. The 500L’s 500-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

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 36 points higher than the 500L.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage first among small SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The 500L isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 123 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.

Engine

The Sportage’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 21 more horsepower (181 vs. 160) than the 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl. The Sportage SX Turbo AWD’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 77 more horsepower (237 vs. 160) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 184) than the 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl. The Sportage SX Turbo FWD’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 80 more horsepower (240 vs. 160) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 184) than the 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Sportage 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Fiat 500L:

Sportage

500L

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

8.8 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.4 MPH

84.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Sportage uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500L requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Sportage has 3.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500L (16.4 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Sportage SX Turbo’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500L:

Sportage SX Turbo

500L

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

10.4 inches

The Sportage stops shorter than the 500L:

Sportage

500L

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Sportage has larger standard tires than the 500L (225/60R17 vs. 205/55R16). The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500L (245/45R19 vs. 225/45R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sportage LX has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 500L Pop. The Sportage SX Turbo’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the 500L Trekking/Lounge.

The Kia Sportage’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500L only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension 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 Fiat 500L has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Sportage has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Sportage flat and controlled during cornering. The 500L’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sportage’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the 500L (105.1 inches vs. 102.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Sportage is 3.5 inches wider in the front and 4.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 500L.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the 500L Lounge pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.7 seconds quicker than the 500L Lounge (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Sportage has 1.5 inches more front legroom, .4 inches more rear headroom, 1.5 inches more rear legroom, 1.8 inches more rear hip room and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500L.

Cargo Capacity

The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume than the 500L with its rear seat up (30.7 vs. 22.4 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Sportage EX/SX Turbo’s power liftgate, leaving your hands completely free. The Sportage’s power liftgate can also be opened or closed by pressing a button. The 500L doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Towing

The Sportage has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The 500L has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The Sportage offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The 500L doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Smart Key standard on the Sportage (except LX) allows you to unlock the driver’s door, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500L doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

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 500L 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 500L doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Sportage has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the 500L only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Consumer Reports rated the Sportage’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the 500L’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

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 500L doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Sportage detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500L doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Sportage (except S/LX) keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 500L doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Sportage’s optional (except S/LX) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The 500L doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Both the Sportage and the 500L 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 500L doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Sportage (except LX) offers an optional Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500L doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Sportage owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Sportage will cost $275 to $1510 less than the 500L over a five-year period.

The Sportage will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Sportage will retain 47.52% to 50.83% of its original price after five years, while the 500L only retains 33.98% to 34.52%.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Sportage, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Fiat 500L isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage third among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 500L isn’t in the top three.

The Kia Sportage outsold the Fiat 500L by almost 59 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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