Should You Take the Kia Sportage Off-Road?

The Kia Sportage's comparatively low ride height and lack of power don’t make it the best option for hitting the trails.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
2022 Kia Sportage
offers a smooth ride and quiet interior that are made for highway driving, but with ground clearance at only 6.4 inches, and a sluggish engine with very little grunt, it’s not a great option for off-roading.
Sure, the 2022 Kia Sportage offers available all-wheel drive on all four of its trims, but hitting the trails is about a lot more than just having AWD. To make sure you know what makes your Sportage a better on- than off-road option,
, the
super app
that combines off-road knowledge with
car insurance
expertise, has assembled this handy guide.
We’ve gathered specs on key off-road factors, like ground clearance and torque, and we’ve even brought together some great alternatives if the Sportage turns out not to be for you.
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Can the Kia Sportage go off-road?

A little, but not too far. Gravel roads, grassy-field parking lots, and other such common low-stakes “off-roading” are fine, but anything much rougher than an unpaved country road after a hard rain's going to give the Sportage a run for its money.
With a starting price of just $24,090, the 2022 Kia Sportage is a budget-friendly option for getting from point A to point B in any type of weather, but it falls short in pretty much every category necessary for making a strong off-roader. 
Let’s take a closer look at some of the Sportage’s specs.

Ground clearance

Ground clearance, or ride height, plays an important role in both off-road capability and on-road handling. On the road, a low ride offers a low center of gravity that makes for better handling, but off the road, higher clearance ensures you can negotiate rough terrain, fallen objects, and steep inclines without damaging your vehicle.
Ideally, a vehicle that’s built to hit the trails will offer no less than 8.5 inches of ground clearance—the Kia Sportage offers only 6.8 inches. Compare this with the
Subaru Forester’s
8.7 inches of clearance, and you can see why the Sportage isn’t the best off-road option.


When it comes to speed, you want horsepower, but when it comes to strength, you need torque. The more pound-feet of torque your vehicle can muster at lower rpm, the better able it will be to get you up a steep incline, over a big rock, or through sticky mud and deep snow.
The Sportage is capable of grunting out 175 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, which is just fine for a street-bound SUV, but compare this to the 225 lb-ft the
Nissan Rogue
spins up at just 2800 rpm, and you can see why the Rogue is a far superior option to the Sportage when it comes to hitting the trails.


If you’re planning to leave the asphalt, you need
all-terrain tires
. They offer the deeper, more open tread pattern needed to grip slick and uneven surfaces on the trail. The Kia Sportage is equipped with all-season tires. This means they’ll last longer than comparable all-terrains, but they don’t have what it takes to handle anything rougher than a dirt or gravel road. 


This is one area where the Kia Sportage does have what it takes to keep moving off the asphalt. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive is available on all Sportage trims. However, since it’s not combined with any other off-road capabilities, it still leaves the Sportage wanting when it comes to off-road chops.


If you’ve ever heard or read someone talking about an off-road vehicles geometry, they’re referring to its angles of approach and departure:
  • Approach angle refers to the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference. 
  • Departure angle is the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference.
Put a little more simply, these are the angles at which you can approach or leave a grade without your bumper getting the way.
The Kia Sportage has an approach angle of 16.7 degrees and a departure angle of 23.9 degrees. This is more than enough to handle what any city or maintained country road will throw at you, but your bumper will be in the way for anything but a gradual incline.

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

Let’s see how the Kia Sportage rates on
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
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We give the 2022 Kia Sportage an I rating. It’s an excellent option for daily driving, and with available AWD, it can get you around in just about any weather, but if you’re planning to do any serious off-roading, you should look for another option.

The best off-road alternatives to the Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is long overdue for an update that’s rumored to be coming in the 2023 model year. Perhaps it will add the specs needed to make the Sportage as good of an option for off-road as on. In the meantime, here are some options to consider if just can’t wait to hit the trails:
Best stylish alternative
Despite being in its fifth year, the CR-V is still one of the most stylish and best-selling compact SUVs on the market.
Best eco-friendly alternative
**2022 Subaru Forester**
The Subaru Forester offers 29 mpg combined compared to the Sportage’s 26.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
**2022 Nissan Rogue**
The Nissan Rogue still isn’t necessarily a top pick for off-roading, but compared with others in its class, it’s one of the best options.
MORE: Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

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