2017 Kia Sportage SLi vs Toyota RAV4 GXL

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT – Winner: Kia Sportage SLi


The fourth-generation Kia Sportage SLi, introduced to Australia early last year, is priced from $34,690 (AUD) before on-road costs. In contrast, the fourth-generation Toyota RAV4 GXL, introduced here in 2013 but now including a raft of safety updates rolled out in September last year, sells from $35,390 (AUD).

They come pretty well equipped for the money, showing competition between the brands is intense. Standard equipment highlights for both cars runs to dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, keyless entry and start, a six-speaker multimedia system that includes a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, a selectable driving mode that flicks between economy and performance tunes, a hill-hold function that stops the car rolling back on inclines, and tinted windows which cut out glare in the back seats.

KIa sportage

Both cars sit on 18-inch alloy wheels, and feature LED daylight running lamps and tail-lights.

There are differences, though. With the Kia, you can open the boot via the key fob, there are front parking sensors, and leather-look plastic adorns the steering wheel and gearshift selector.

In contrast, the Toyota includes an extra driver’s knee airbag, the headlights are much fancier and brighter LEDs, it gains satellite navigation (but only because it does not have Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and instead you use a Toyota app) and crisper-quality digital radio, and it uses real leather for the steering wheel.

Toyota Rav4

Things, then, lean slightly towards the cheaper Kia Sportage in terms of family-friendly functionality for slightly less money. But the clincher here is the warranty; Kia offers seven years with unlimited kilometres and a year of roadside assistance, while Toyota makes do with only three years and 100,000 kilometres. That’s likely to be a winner with buyers.




Okay, we’ve already covered off that in the Kia your hands feel leather-look plastic, while in the Toyota it’s the real deal.

But that’s really the only flaw in the Sportage’s otherwise well-presented and laid-out interior. Crack open the driver’s door and you’re presented with a friendly and inviting cabin with plenty of space, even in the rear seats (accessed via rear doors that are much better shaped than the RAV4’s).

kia sportage interior

Instrumentation is slick and classy-looking, and there’s even a USB port built into the back of the centre armrest – vital for keeping moody teens in tune with their personal collection of favourite tunes. There’s also that remote boot release button on the key fob that helps with arms-full deposits into the space.

The Toyota RAV4 is also well presented, but not as well laid out. It is also roomy and comfortable, apart from an unwelcome dash insert that protrudes into the front passenger’s knee space. The multimedia unit doesn’t look anywhere near as classy as the Kia’s.

KIa sportage interior

It’s more plasticky, too, in that more surfaces are covered in hard-wearing surfaces that don’t have a classy look or feel to them, making the interior look a little cheap.

Neither of these cars get rear-seat air vents, which some competitors including the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan have. The RAV4, though, includes a recessed, dash-mounted grille that is meant to direct air into the rear seats; it works, but it’s no replacement for rear vents.


ON THE ROAD – Winner: Toyota RAV4 GXL


Yep, the Toyota RAV4 is the winner here. Toyota is generally known for its lack of feel behind the wheel, but this is one instance where a sweeping generalisation is wrong.

It has good steering feel, which is important for anyone who likes driving. When it comes to cornering, it’s not the sharpest SUV on the road, though, and sharp bumps transfer into the cabin.

Toyota rav4

But the RAV4’s 2.0-litre petrol engine and its continually variable transmission do well to shift the mid-size SUV along. The engine revs willingly, and the CVT – one of the better ones on the market – milks more than adequate performance out of it.

In contrast, the Kia Sportage’s 2.0-litre petrol engine is from Hyundai/Kia’s old line-up (Hyundai bailed Kia out of bankruptcy more than two decades ago, and the pair now share drivetrains and engineering resources). It’s a lacklustre performer, lacking some of the top-end sparkle and fuel efficiency of the new-gen “GDI” engine fitted to the Sportage’s more expensive, Hyundai-badged sibling, the Tucson. The more traditional six-speed automatic that sends drive to the front wheels goes a long way to smooth off the engine’s rough edges.

The Sportage drives well enough, absorbing the road surface’s lumps and bumps much better than the RAV4’s suspension system. But it doesn’t steer anywhere near as good as the RAV4.


VERDICT – Winner: Kia Sportage SLi

Kis sportage


Kia’s mid-size SUV is more family-friendly than the RAV4, rides better and has a much better interior than its Toyota rival. It’s therefore a much more rounded package that really deserves to sell a bit better than it does.