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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus UX Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Kia Sportage doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the UX Series deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The UX Series’ side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Sportage’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.
The UX Series has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Front Seatbacks, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Front Seatbacks system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Sportage doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The UX Series has standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Sportage doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The UX Series offers optional Parking Support Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Sportage doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
The UX Series has standard Safety Connect®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sportage doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the UX Series and the Sportage have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the UX Series its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 83 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Sportage is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.
The UX Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Sportage’s (6/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).
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 UX Series’ reliability 40 points higher than the Sportage.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Kia is ranked 9th.
As tested in Consumer Reports the UX 250h 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid is faster than the Kia Sportage 4 cyl.:
Zero to 30 MPH
Zero to 60 MPH
45 to 65 MPH Passing
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the UX 250h gets better fuel mileage than the Sportage AWD (41 city/38 hwy vs. 22 city/26 hwy).
On the EPA test cycle the UX 200 FWD CVT gets better fuel mileage than the Sportage FWD with its standard engine (29 city/37 hwy vs. 23 city/30 hwy).
Regenerative brakes improve the UX Series Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Sportage doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the UX Series Hybrid’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Sportage doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The UX Series has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Sportage doesn’t offer a CVT.
The UX Series’ tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sportage LX’s standard 60 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the UX Series has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Sportage LX.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the UX Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Sportage doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
The UX Series has variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Sportage doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
For better maneuverability, the UX Series’ turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Sportage’s (34.2 feet vs. 34.8 feet).
The UX Series has .5 inches more front legroom and 1.1 inches more rear hip room than the Sportage.
A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the UX Series. The Sportage doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 56% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.
When three different drivers share the UX Series, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Sportage doesn’t offer a memory system.
The UX Series’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Sportage doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The UX Series offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Sportage doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The UX Series’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Sportage has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.
The UX Series’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sportage’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.
If the windows are left open on the UX Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (This window function must be activated by your Lexus service department.) The driver of the Sportage can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The UX Series’ optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Sportage’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The UX Series’ available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Sportage’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The UX Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Sportage doesn’t offer headlight washers.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the UX Series F SPORT has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Sportage doesn’t offer cornering lights. The UX Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
The UX Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Kia charges extra for heated mirrors on the Sportage.
When the UX Series with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Sportage’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The UX Series’ optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Sportage offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The UX Series has a standard 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. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Sportage.
Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus UX Series and the Kia Sportage, based on reliability, safety and performance.
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