2021 Kia Sportage vs. 2020 Toyota Highlander

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Both the Sportage and the Highlander 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, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage second among compact suvs in their 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Highlander was rated third in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia first in initial quality, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 19th, below the industry average.

Environmental Friendliness

© 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 2020/10/21

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Kia Sportage as a “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV). The Toyota Highlander is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Sportage stops shorter than the Highlander:

Sportage

Highlander

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

132 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Sportage SX Turbo’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (245/45R19 vs. 235/65R18).

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 Highlander L/LE/XLE’s standard 65 series tires. The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Highlander Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Sportage has vehicle speed sensitive 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 Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the Highlander XLE AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander XLE AWD (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.4 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Sportage’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Highlander’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Chassis

© 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 2020/10/21

The Kia Sportage may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 700 to 850 pounds less than the Toyota Highlander.

The Sportage is 1 foot, 6.5 inches shorter than the Highlander, making the Sportage easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

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The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume than the Highlander with its rear seat up (30.7 vs. 16 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

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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 Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Highlander doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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

Economic Advantages

© 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 2020/10/21

Insurance will cost less for the Sportage owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Sportage will cost $360 less than the Highlander over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sportage is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Sportage than the Highlander, including $289 less for a starter, $219 less for fuel injection, $257 less for a fuel pump and $1254 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Kia Sportage will be $3889 to $4804 less than for the Toyota Highlander.

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 2020/10/21

The Kia Sportage has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Sportage

Highlander

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

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