A very happy compromise
I was looking for a smaller SUV, something with higher ride height to save my knees, but not too huge, it's mostly an around town and commute car. I checked out the Forrester, Rav4 Hybrid, Outback, CX-5, Leaf (incredible deal on those locally). I wanted something with a bit more power than the 4 banger base model I'd had for 20 years. The simple answer is the Rav4 (great reliability) and CX-5(great drive) lost out due to lack of power. The Subaru models were great, a little short on style, but also a bit costly, and also the side view mirrors had limited adjustability (I couldn't eliminate my rear blind spots as a result.) I'm also a touch reserved on their CVTs, improved as they may be. The Forrester XT was my second choice to the Sportage. The Sportage had drawbacks too, some below, but it seemed the most complete package w/r/t what I was looking for. The nice interior and the improved reliability on recent Kia/Hyundai redesigns tilted me to the Sportage (the V6 Sorrento also had my eye, but we have one big suv already.) Still not entirely convinced, I went for a lease. I picked up the AWD Turbo on a 3 year Lease for a shade under $33K. White w/ black interior. -Turbo Power is a blast, but a little unsteady in the delivery, it can ramp real fast and kind of stall out - this can be offset with pedal control once you learn it's quirks. -AWD is good, but the OEM tires don't have great snow grip. One drawback of a lease, since you don't want to ditch good tires. Also, the differential lock is a button next to the drive mode, and it's a little too easy to accidentally turn it on. Twice in 4 months. - Mileage. I have the worst combo, and it can suck. Bumper to bumper city street can go as low as 15 or 16 mpg. Around town, I get 17 or 18 usually. However, it does much better commuting... 80 mph, 23-24 mpg. 75 mph, 25-26 mpg. 70 mph, 27-28 mpg. 60 mph, 29-30 mpg. Hills will lose you up to 10% of those figures, but Phoenix was flat and easy. - Traveling. Handled clothes and gear for 3 of us on a 3,000 mile trip, and the cover in place to hide our luggage. Could've handled 4, but the cover would've had to go. -Drive. Secure handling, sporty and firm suspension. Solid car, but high speed cornering reminds you of it's relative height. Still, great overall stability. - Height. I wanted something a bit higher than a sedan to save my knees! Fits the bill. - Auto features. I use the lane-tracking etc, but be aware, in a snowstorm in Flagstaff I was alerted my safety braking was no longer functioning. Being new to these features, it took me a little while to figure out that the snow was collecting on the car and blocking the necessary sensors... the limits of real life. There are many features I haven't even had time to program or understand yet. -Drive Mode. I like the Eco drive. It's a little quirky, but keeps me grounded most of the time. Standard mode is great for everyday driving when you think you might want a little extra power a little faster. I liked having the sport mode available for crowded driving conditions, this almost erases the turbo lag and gives you good ability to accelerate when needed. This is the most responsive mode, but again, you have to learn the turbo, it doesn't carry a smooth power curve up to 75 mph, for example. - Infotainment. You can't program the map while driving, which means your passenger can't either. Love the radio, USB port, iphone connectivity, it's all good. Also, the fuel finder that tracks down proximate gas stations is great when you are low on fuel in new territory. All in all, I rate it about 4.5 stars. I still have reservations, and will probably turn it in after the lease period is up, but the car is definitely a blast, and continues to grow on me.
I would recommend this vehicle to a friend: YES