Given the costs involved in having and raising a newborn, it’s unlikely that buying or leasing a brand-new car ranks very high on the long list of things that a pregnant couple will have to ensure are squared away before their newborn arrives.
But for the few future parents whose pregnancies and financial circumstances align and who do plan on a new car, it’s helpful to know in advance whether an SUV—and specifically the 2020 Kia Sportage—is worth it and whether it might suit you well.
10 Mos. & 15,000 miles of baby bliss
After 10 months and 15,000 miles of use, I’m here to tell you the 2020 Kia Sportage makes for a great family car for your first newborn.
Included in those 15,000 miles is a 12-hundred mile drive down the coast of California—with a baby, and done over the span of just two days. Safely now, very safely.
This article will rapidly roll through some of the more important aspects of the Sportage as a possible car of choice for parents expecting a new baby to help you decide if it has a place in your family’s future.
Safety: Are SUVs safe for babies?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones.”
The IIHS awarded 67 SUVs the title of “Top Safety Pick” for 2021, with the 2020 Kia Sportage making the list, providing the Sportage model (“trim level”) includes “optional front crash prevention” and “specific headlights.”
Consumer Reports writes that as far as front-end crashes, “SUVs have been shown to be much safer than sedans” but adds that the SUV’s higher center of gravity “makes them more prone to rollover”—which is something that ESC, or Electronic Stability Control, addresses in SUVs manufactured after 2012.
Thankfully, in 10 months and 15,000 miles of driving, we experienced no safety events of any kind: no accidents or near-accidents.
On the whole, however, and specifically when compared to a previous Honda Civic and a later Kia Seltos, the Sportage surpasses both of them as far as the feeling of safety.
The Sportage feels strong and solid (and apparently actually is). It handles very well and provides peace of mind for new parents.
According to AutoBlog, the Sportage “earns a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), with a four-star frontal crash rating, five-star side crash rating and four-star rollover rating.”
Space: Is the Sportage big enough for babies and gear?
The Kia Sportage comfortably accommodates two parents up front, two children in car seats in the back, and strollers, diaper bags and plenty of other toys and accessories in the trunk.
It won’t, however, fit three standard-sized car seats in the rear seat, so if you’re looking for an SUV that will do so and want to stick to the Kia lineup, consider the Sorento or Telluride.
(Funny enough, I downgraded to the Kia Seltos and can tell you that I would not recommend it as your first family car. MSRP for the Sportage is also only $2,000 more than MSRP for the Seltos.
The 10 Key Questions for Car Buyers Expecting a Baby
A great article by Julie Mitchell (“producer of blogs, films and children in Los Angeles”) in PolicyGenius lays out 10 suggestions she offers for people buying a car before their babies are born. Her article is titled, “Our First Mistake: Buying A Car Before Our Baby Was Born.”
Here are her points, followed by my answers and opinion for the 2020 Kia Sportage.
1. “Get a comfortable car height”
The right height makes getting your baby into and out of his or her car seat easier. Translation: A low car with a tight back seat is going to kill your back. Thankfully, the Sportage has wide open rear seat spaces and plenty of room at the right height to get your baby into and out of their infant seat in the middle rear.
2. “Beware the back windshield”
To avoid having the back of your car turn into an infant tanning bed, beware the back windshield. Due to the large trunk space located behind the back seats of the Sportage, it doesn’t suffer from back windshield burn.
3. “Look for air vents”
Air flow in the Sportage is excellent and powerful. (Airflow and A/C power in the Seltos, not so much.)
4. “Remember room for a stroller”
The Kia Sportage has more than enough room for a baby stroller. It easily accommodated all of the toys, gear, snacks and other luggage needed for beach trips, days at the park, and out-of-state visits to friends and family.
5. “Study the middle of the back seat”
The middle rear is set up for an infant seat, as are the middle outside seats. The Sportage will comfortably fit two but not three infant seats.
6. “Test the space between the front & back seats”
Distance between the front and back seats of the Sportage is spacious and sufficient. Two different rear-facing car seats were used and fit well while allowing ample leg room for the driver.
(Author Julie Mitchell recommends checking this to ensure the driver isn’t forced to sit uncomfortably close to the steering wheel, since an infant seat might be occupying the left rear seat.)
7. “Go with keyless entry”
The Sportage has you covered here.
8. “Avoid cloth seats”
Leather seats are an option on all trim levels of the Kia Sportage—optional on the EX trim, and standard on the SX trim.
9. “You need at least four doors”
Being an SUV, the Sportage has four doors; no issues here, they open widely and getting an infant seat into and out of them is easy.
10. “Voice command options and navigation are worth it”
Both are available with the Kia Sportage.
Here’s to safe driving on your next adventure!