Can The Kia Sportage Tow a Camper Trailer?
The 2021 Kia Sportage is getting attention with a best-in-class 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. It suggests a compellingly high level of confidence from the manufacturer.
And the 240 horsepower turbocharged engine in the SX trim level is nothing to scoff at. But can the Kia Sportage tow a camper trailer?
Let’s dive in and see how it measures up!
Kia Sportage Towing Capacity
The 2021 Kia Sportage towing capacity, across all trim levels, is rated at 2000 pounds with trailer brakes and 1,653 without trailer brakes. This is not a lot of towing capacity when we’re talking about pulling a camper trailer, but let’s look at some additional specs. Then we’ll get down to the business of seeing what this sweet sport utility vehicle can do!
Other Specs & Features
The Kia Sportage is offered in four trim levels. The LX, S, and EX all have essentially the same specifications, but the SX Turbo is a more powerful SUV. All four trim levels are offered in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
The LX, S, and EX all have a 181 horsepower 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine. All three trim levels have 175 pound-feet of torque driving a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The SX Turbo, by contrast, has a 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine. That’s a powerful little turbo engine on a crossover, but it does take something back in terms of gas mileage. This Sportage level has 260 pound-feet of torque driving the 6-speed automatic transmission in either the front-wheel or all-wheel-drive version.
A couple of great safety features – automatic emergency braking and active lane control – are standard offerings on every Kia Sportage model. Blind-spot monitors and parking sensors are optional but important features for buyers to strongly consider.
The Sportage touts a passenger capacity of five but is relatively small in the back seat area. It’s more suitable for two adult passengers or three small children. Legroom back there is sufficient at 38.2 inches.
There are 30.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the second row, though. In addition, it has a pass-through for skis, golf clubs, and such. Folding down the seats of the second row expands the cargo space to a respectable 60 cubic feet.
Every Sportage comes standard with 17-inch wheels. The turbocharged higher-end all-wheel-drive version is offered with 18-inch wheels. All Sportage trim levels include an 8-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The included 5-year/60,000-mile warranty is generous, to be sure. But again, it’s the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty of the Kia that is turning heads and making waves.
Can the Kia Sportage Tow a Camper Trailer?
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Can this sharp little SUV tow a camper trailer? The answer can only be given with a strongly stated caveat. So what we’ve got here is a “Yes, but…”
The Kia Sportage can tow a camper trailer, but it’s going to have to be a small one. Remember the 2000-pound towing capacity (with trailer brakes – only 1,653 without?) This leaves the Sportage quite limited as a vehicle for towing, but that doesn’t matter as much if you’re a single person, a parent traveling with one child, or even a very close couple. Let’s look at the options.
What Kind of Campers Can the Kia Sportage Tow?
Kia Sportage owners can consider pop-up campers, but – and this is an essential “but” – you’d have to keep a careful eye on the camper’s weight. Some popup campers weigh well over what the Kia Sportage can safely tow.
An Aliner, for example, can weigh close to 3,000 pounds. Some soft-sided popups can weigh close to 4,000 pounds.
A little Aliner or a soft-sided pop-up weighing around 1,000 pounds is a possibility for the Sportage. But we strongly recommend against towing either of these – or anything else for that matter – without trailer brakes.
Here’s an idea: the SylvanSport GO. The all-aluminum GO weighs in at only 840 pounds and is designed to be towed by SUVs, minivans, and almost any vehicle equipped with a hitch, really. Your Kia Sportage can tow the SylvanSport GO like a dream if the little camper trailer suits your lifestyle.
There are also tiny teardrops available which would fall well within the safe towing range of the Sportage. One example would be the MyPod, a little teardrop camper with a dry weight of just 630 lbs.
So the lightweight popup campers, the very lightweight SylvanSport GO campers, and a few small teardrops are probably your best bet for campers to tow with the Kia Sportage.
It’s important to bear in mind the payload capacity of the Kia Sportage when considering your options. The payload capacity is between 1100 and just under 1300 pounds (depending on the trim level), so keep this in mind when packing gear and people into your Sportage.
Can It Tow a Boat?
The Kia Sportage can tow a non-motorized fishing boat or any lightweight aluminum boat. But while we’re thinking of fun on the water, consider that the Sportage can tow a jet-ski and some small personal watercraft as well. Think canoe or kayak on a small utility trailer. Larger crafts would not be suitable for towing by the little 4-cylinder Kia Sportage.
Is the Kia Sportage a Good Car for Towing?
With its relatively low towing and payload capacities and its 4-cylinder engine, the Kia Sportage is not a car for towing much weight. As noted above, a Sportage can safely tow a few small, lightweight campers and a few small, non-motorized watercraft, but it’s quite limited where towing is concerned.
How Much Is a Kia Sportage?
The base model of the 2021 Kia Sportage is a great value coming in at just over $24,000.
The EX with many more options and all-wheel-drive will run you about $30,000. The EX gives you 18-inch wheels, heated seats, keyless ignition, and dual-zone climate control, among other comfort features.
Higher-end Sportage SX Turbos add $5,000 to the price tag, coming in at $35,000. This will give you a more powerful engine and several options such as navigation, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charger, premium audio, a heated steering wheel, and parking sensors, and cooled front seats.
Is the Sportage All-Wheel-Drive?
The Kia Sportage does offer an all-wheel-drive package. You’ll give back a little gas mileage as expected, though. To provide some perspective, the EPA rates the 2021 Sportage at 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with front-wheel drive, or just 22 mpg city and 23 mpg highway with all-wheel drive.
Lighter Towing with the Kia Sportage
With its head-turning warranty, the Kia Sportage presents a good value to consumers as long as you’re not looking to tow anything heavy or get fantastic gas mileage. What it does, it does well. But it’s important to understand the limitations of the Kia Sportage where your particular interests are concerned.
More From Kia: Check out our review of Kia Telluride and if it can stand up to the rigors of towing an RV.
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