2020 Kia Sportage vs. 2019 Nissan Kicks

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

The Kia Sportage has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Kicks doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

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 Kicks doesn’t offer a lane departure 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 Kicks doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Sportage and the Kicks have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The Kia Sportage weighs 633 to 1126 pounds more than the Nissan Kicks. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Kia Sportage is safer than the Nissan Kicks:

Sportage

Kicks

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Kia Sportage is safer than the Nissan Kicks:

Sportage

Kicks

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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 Kicks’ 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 Nissan covers the Kicks. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Kicks ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Sportage has a standard 140-amp alternator (150-amp - Sportage SX Turbo AWD). The Kicks’ 120-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage first among small SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Kicks 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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 7th.

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 9 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

The Sportage’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 59 more horsepower (181 vs. 122) and 61 lbs.-ft. more torque (175 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4-cyl. The Sportage SX Turbo AWD’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 115 more horsepower (237 vs. 122) and 146 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4-cyl. The Sportage SX Turbo FWD’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 118 more horsepower (240 vs. 122) and 146 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4-cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Sportage 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Nissan Kicks:

Sportage

Kicks

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

17.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.4 MPH

77.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Sportage has 5.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (16.4 vs. 10.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Sportage’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Kicks:

Sportage LX/S/EX

Sportage SX Turbo

Kicks

Front Rotors

12 inches

12.6 inches

10.16 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

8” drums

The Kia Sportage has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Kicks. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Sportage stops much shorter than the Kicks:

Sportage

Kicks

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

190 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

143 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Kicks SV/SR’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sportage LX has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Kicks S. The Sportage SX Turbo’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Kicks SV/SR.

The Kia Sportage’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Nissan Kicks 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 Nissan Kicks has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Sportage has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Kicks’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sportage’s wheelbase is 2 inches longer than on the Kicks (105.1 inches vs. 103.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Sportage is 3.6 inches wider in the front and 3.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Kicks.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the Kicks SR pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Kicks SR (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Sportage has 4.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Kicks (98.6 vs. 93.9).

The Sportage has 3.4 inches more front hip room, 4.1 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 5 inches more rear legroom, 2.1 inches more rear hip room and 1.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kicks.

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

Cargo Capacity

The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Kicks with its rear seat up (30.7 vs. 25.3 cubic feet). The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Kicks with its rear seat folded (60.1 vs. 32.3 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 Kicks doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Towing

The Sportage has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The Kicks has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Sportage and the Kicks have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Sportage is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Kicks prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Kicks doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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

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 Kicks 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 Kicks 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 Kicks doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Sportage has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Kicks doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Sportage’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Kicks doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Sportage and the Kicks 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 Kicks SV/SR doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Sportage (except S/LX). The Sportage’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Kicks doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With standard voice command, the Sportage offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Kicks doesn’t offer a voice control system.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Sportage (except LX) offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Kicks doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Recommendations

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

The Kia Sportage outsold the Nissan Kicks by almost four to one during 2018.

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

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