2015 Kia Sportage vs. 2016 Kia Sportage: Which Is Better?

The 2015 and 2016 Kia Sportage are basically the same SUV, but you’ll get more standard luxury features with the latest version for a slightly higher cost.
Written by Mariza Morin
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
While the 2015 and 2016
Kia Sportage
offers many of the same features in terms of powertrain and fuel economy, the 2016 model provides more modern conveniences at a moderately higher cost. 
Since it was unveiled in 1993, the Kia Sportage has certainly proven itself to be one of the best compact SUVs in its class. It delivers impressive performance power and sporty handling in a stylish little package that’s not only fun to drive, but also a great value. But how much has the Sportage changed between 2015 and 2016, and which one is right for you?
Here, we’ll take a closer look at pricing, powertrain options, fuel economy, safety features, and optional upgrades for both Sportage model years.
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2015 Kia Sportage vs. 2016 Kia Sportage: what’s the difference?

The Sportage is a fantastic compact SUV that competes with other pint-sized rivals such as the
Mazda CX-5
Kia Sorento
, and the
Honda CR-V
. But has much changed in one year from 2015 to 2016? Not exactly—only a few minor cosmetic changes such as standard leather upholstery for the two higher trim levels and a slight cost increase as well.    
Let’s jump down to the tables below for a more detailed comparison, shall we? 


Back when the 2016 Kia Sportage came out, price increases for each trim level varied widely. As you can see in the table below, the mid-range
only increased by a mere $50 while the top-tier
jumped up by $1,890. Let’s take a look at the original MSRPs for the Sportage.  
2015 MSRP
2016 MSRP
Kia Sportage LX
Kia Sportage EX
Kia Sportage SX
But these days, a used 2015 Sportage ranges from $9,000 to $16,000 while a used 2016 Sportage runs between $10,000 to $18,000 depending on the trim level and package upgrades. 

General specs

No matter the price difference, you’re still going to get identical powertrains in both models. That’s right—the same engine options, transmission, drivetrain, and towing capacity. Even for the much pricier 2016 Sportage SX!
Should you take the Kia Sportage off-road?
With only 6.8 inches of ground clearance for both model years, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and stick to city/highway driving with this compact SUV—even with all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option. 
2015 Kia Sportage
2016 Kia Sportage
Base engine (LX and EX)
2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (182 horsepower)
2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (182 horsepower)
Upgrade engine (SX)
2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (260 horsepower) 
2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (260 horsepower) 
Six-speed automatic
Six-speed automatic
Front-wheel drive (standard) or all-wheel drive (available)
Front-wheel drive (standard) or all-wheel drive (available)
Maximum towing capacity
2,000 lbs
2,000 lbs
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Fuel economy

Since you’re getting the same powertrain with the 2015 and 2016 Sportage models, it should come as no shock that your gas mileage will also be the same. Of course, your fuel economy will depend on factors like where and how you drive your compact SUV, but the EPA-estimated mileage ratings should look something like the following: 
  • Base engine (2.4-liter) w/FWD: 21 mpg city / 28 mpg highway / 23 mpg combined
  • Base engine (2.4-liter) w/AWD: 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway / 22 mpg combined
  • Upgrade engine (2.0-liter) w/FWD: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway / 22 mpg combined
  • Upgrade engine (2.0-liter) w/AWD: 19 mpg city / 25 mpg highway / 21 mpg combined
If you’re looking to save at the pump, then opt for the LX or EX with front-wheel drive for the best mileage. But if fuel efficiency is your second priority after a more potent engine, then stick with the SX trim with front-wheel drive, which only knocks down your mileage a peg or two. 

Safety ratings

Both the 2015 and 2016 Kia Sportage received a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though the 2016 all-wheel-drive variant alone earned a five-star overall rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also gave both model years the highest rating of “Good” for four out of five tests. 
While both Kia Sportage models have some of the highest safety scores in their class, the compact SUV only comes standard with some basic safety features such as antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and active front head restraints. Kia’s UVO telematics system includes roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, speed tracking, and more come standard on all 2016 Sportage trims but only as an option in the base 2015 Sportage LX trim level. 
The only deficiency in the Sportage’s IIHS safety rating affected both the 2015 and 2016 models: a “poor” rating regarding the driver-side small overlap front test. So did Kia learn its lesson for the 2017 Sportage? Yes—and the compact SUV was even awarded a Top Safety Pick for 2017! But, of course, that’s another review for another day. 

Styling and interior changes

As with the powertrain and fuel economy before, not much has changed in terms of interior features for the 2016 Kia Sportage. Style, comfort, and technology highlights include: 
  • Rear privacy glass
  • Keyless entry
  • 60/40 split-folding and reclining rear seats
  • Cruise control
  • Bluetooth and audio connectivity
  • Six-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control (EX and SX)
  • Six-way power driver seat (EX and SX)
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel (EX and SX)
  • Heated front seats (EX and SX)
  • Keyless entry and ignition (SX only) 
  • Navigation system (SX only)
If you require the finer things in life, consider the SX version of the Sportage for the 2015 model year. You’ll not only get a more powerful engine, but you can also add on the SX Luxury package that includes a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. But you’ll also get most of these same standard luxury features in the 2016 Sportage EX minus the panoramic sunroof—though it does come in the 2016 SX!

2015 Kia Sportage vs. 2016 Sportage: which should you buy?

If you’re trying to narrow your options down between the 2015 Kia Sportage and the 2016 Kia Sportage, we’d suggest opting for the more affordable 2015 model—unless you’re looking for more standard modern conveniences that are equipped in the 2016 Sportage. 
Overall, the 2015 Sportage includes many of the same features as the 2016 Sportage but typically for less money, especially if you want to spring for the top-of-the-line SX trim level. Apart from that, there’s not too much of a difference between both model years. 
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