2020 Kia Sportage vs. 2019 Jeep Wrangler

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Sportage has standard head airbag curtains for front and rear seats which 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 doesn't offer side airbag protection for the head and are only available for the front seats.

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 Wrangler offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

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 Wrangler 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 doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

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 Wrangler doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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 uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the Sportage and the Wrangler 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 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 Wrangler has not been tested, yet.

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 Wrangler’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. 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 ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

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 19 points higher than the Wrangler.

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

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 17th, below the industry average.

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 Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 17 places higher in reliability than Jeep.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Sportage 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Jeep Wrangler turbo 4-cylinder (automatics tested):

Sportage

Wrangler

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

8.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.4 MPH

82.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

The Sportage stops much shorter than the Wrangler:

Sportage

Wrangler

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

194 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

150 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

163 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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 Sport’s standard 75 series tires. The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Wrangler Sahara’s 70 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

The Kia Sportage’s independent front suspension is much lighter than the Jeep Wrangler’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 has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

For much better steering response and tighter handling the Sportage has rack and pinion steering, like Formula race cars, instead of the recirculating-ball type steering of the Wrangler.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the Wrangler Sahara 4-door pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 3.1 seconds quicker than the Wrangler Rubicon 4-door (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 29.9 seconds @ .56 average G’s).

Chassis

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

The Sportage is 12 inches shorter than the Wrangler 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, 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 uses body-on-frame design instead.

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

Passenger Space

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

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

Cargo Capacity

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

Sportage

Wrangler

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

33.4”/68.2”

37”/65.8”

Max Width

52.3”

42”

Min Width

41”

39.5”

Height

29.5”

30”

The Sportage’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Wrangler 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’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, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Sportage EX/SX Turbo’s power cargo door, leaving your hands completely free. The Sportage’s power cargo door can also be opened or closed by pressing a button. The Wrangler doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening cargo door.

Ergonomics

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 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’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’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 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 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 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.

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 has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Sahara/Rubicon.

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 Wrangler doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Sportage has standard power remote mirrors. The Wrangler 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 S/LX) keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Wrangler doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

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

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sportage is less expensive to operate than the Wrangler because typical repairs cost much less on the Sportage than the Wrangler, including $33 less for a water pump, $62 less for front brake pads, $6 less for a starter, $56 less for fuel injection, $253 less for a fuel pump and $220 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Sportage, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Jeep Wrangler 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 Wrangler isn’t in the top three.

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

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