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Sales: 610-628-3831
Service: 610-816-0382
Parts: 610-816-0818

2017 Kia Sportage vs Subaru Forester

Subaru has long held a reputation for producing all-wheel drive vehicles that are practical, capable, and good value for the money--but upstarts like Kia are hot on their trail. So, let's see if the 2017 Kia Sportage can keep up with--and even dominate--the enduring Subaru Forester.

2017 Kia Sportage vs Subaru Forester


The Sportage has done a lot to catapult Kia to its current position in the global auto market. The exterior of this fourth-generation model isn't much different than the previous third-generation model, but the front fascia is. The bug-eyed look isn't instantly attractive, but like some of the greatest songs of all time, it really does grow on you.

Looks have never been Subaru's strongest attribute, and the Forester is proof of this fact. The Forester looks more like a wagon than an SUV crossover, and like it's made up of lots of bits from other models--and not necessarily the best bits either.


Sportage buyers get the best of the engine options in the two 4-cylinders available in the 2017 model. One is a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter and the other a 2.0-liter turbo. The turbo option develops up to 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft., which is useful in a vehicle of this size.

The Subaru offers similar engine options to the Kia, with a 2.5i and a turbocharged 2.0-liter. The 2.0-liter turbo has 250 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. along with a decent CVT transmission that simulates an eight-speed auto. Both drive pretty well and both are on the sporty side of the spectrum, but the Sportage is the better vehicle all around.


The interior of the Sportage does everything very well, but without being particularly exceptional. It's one of the smallest models in its class, but it still offers plenty of room in both the front and the back. In essence, the Sportage is a match for any of its rivals, including the Forester. The cabin is quiet, well-proportioned, and comfortable with good quality materials and high levels of standard equipment.

Subaru has worked hard to improve the interior of the Forester, especially to overcome the unwelcome levels of cabin noise of previous models. Once again, the quality and fit of the interior is impressive without being remarkable.

Features and Equipment

Packing lots of standard features into its vehicles has long been a key market strategy of Kia, and the 2017 Sportage doesn't stray from that path. You'll choose between three well-equipped trim levels (LX, EX and SX) with standard features that include power features, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a touchscreen audio with six speakers, satellite radio, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming audio, and 60/40-split folding rear seats with adjustable recline.

You'll find more trim levels on the Forester, which means there's a bigger range between the frugal and the near-luxurious. Base 2.5i models are a match for the Kia Sportage LX, but you'll get more at the top of the range, so this is a narrow victory for the Subaru.

Learn More about the Kia Sportage

If you can get past the dowdy exterior styling of the Subaru Forester, you'll find a very capable vehicle underneath with all-wheel drive standard in every model. The 2017 Kia Sportage is at least a match for the Forester, and it's much better than the Subaru in some ways.Set side by side, it's hard to imagine anyone choosing the Forester over the better, more well-rounded Kia Sportage--and we agree.