2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid vs. 2020 Kia Sportage

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 2020/09/30

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Highlander Hybrid are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Sportage doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Highlander Hybrid has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats 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 Highlander Hybrid has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies 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 Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum has standard Automated Braking 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 Highlander Hybrid (except LE/XLE) offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Sportage only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid and the Sportage 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, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive and daytime running lights.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid weighs 565 to 1290 pounds more than the Kia Sportage. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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The Highlander Hybrid’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Sportage runs out after 100,000 miles.

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Highlander Hybrid for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Sportage.

There are over 59 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander Hybrid’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Kia is ranked 9th.

Engine

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The Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 62 more horsepower (243 vs. 181) than the Sportage’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4-cylinder. The Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 6 more horsepower (243 vs. 237) than the Sportage SX Turbo’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 3 more horsepower (243 vs. 240) than the Sportage SX Turbo’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Highlander Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the Sportage:

Highlander Hybrid

Sportage

FWD

Auto

36 city/35 hwy

23 city/30 hwy

4 cyl.

AWD

Auto

35 city/35 hwy

22 city/26 hwy

4 cyl.

Regenerative brakes improve the Highlander 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 Highlander 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.

Transmission

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The Highlander Hybrid 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.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Highlander Hybrid

Sportage LX/S/EX

Sportage SX Turbo

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

12 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

Tires and Wheels

© 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 2020/09/30

For better traction, the Highlander Hybrid has larger tires than the Sportage (235/65R18 vs. 225/60R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Sportage LX. The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the

19-inch wheels on the Sportage SX Turbo.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Highlander Hybrid’s wheelbase is 7.1 inches longer than on the Sportage (112.2 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Highlander Hybrid is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Sportage.

For greater off-road capability the Highlander Hybrid has a 1.2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Sportage (8 vs. 6.8 inches), allowing the Highlander Hybrid to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Highlander Hybrid uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Sportage doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The Highlander Hybrid has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Sportage can only carry 5.

The Highlander Hybrid has 42.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Sportage (141.3 vs. 98.6).

The Highlander Hybrid has 1.9 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more front legroom, 2.9 inches more front hip room, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, 2.8 inches more rear legroom, 5.8 inches more rear hip room and 3.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sportage.

Cargo Capacity

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The Highlander Hybrid’s cargo area provides more volume than the Sportage.

Highlander Hybrid

Sportage

Third Seat Folded

48.4 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

30.7 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

84.3 cubic feet

60.1 cubic feet

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Highlander Hybrid. The Sportage doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

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The Highlander Hybrid’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Sportage’s (3500 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

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When two different drivers share the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Sportage doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Highlander Hybrid’s 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 Highlander Hybrid’s 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 standard 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 Highlander Hybrid 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 Toyota service department.) The driver of the Sportage can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Highlander Hybrid Platinum’s standard 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.

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

The Highlander Hybrid’s 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 Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum 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.

Both the Highlander Hybrid and the Sportage offer available heated front seats. The Highlander Hybrid Platinum also has standard heated second row seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Sportage.

The Highlander Hybrid 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.

The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Sportage doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

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 2020/09/30

The Toyota Highlander outsold the Kia Sportage by almost three to one during the 2019 model year.

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