Kia Sportage audio review: Upgrade to GT-Line S?

The Kia Sportage is available in different configurations and is now also sold as a plug-in hybrid. We found it to be a competent all-rounder, and arguably a better pick over its sibling, the Hyundai Tucson.

In terms of its audio configuration, the Kia comes fitted with six speakers that output 200 Watts of power. However, in the GT Line S trim, you’ll find an eight-speaker 340- Watt Harman Kardon audio system instead. The former is on review.

Click here to read the full Kia Sportage review

Kia Sportage audio setup

To tweak the audio drivers, you’ll have to navigate through the 12.3″ infotainment system to find the appropriate menus – here are our optimal settings:

  • Treble: +3
  • Midrange: +1
  • Bass: +2
  • Balance & Fader: Centre
  • Speed Dependent Volume Control: Normal

In terms of connectivity, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported over a wired connection only. It is a shame that wireless support is not present. However, Bluetooth is also an option with the SBC and AAC codecs available. To attain the utmost audio fidelity, we’d suggest plugging in your smartphone.

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Kia Sportage audio performance

For a demo of the Kia Sportage’s audio system, head on over to our YouTube channel.

In terms of its audio configuration, the stock six-speaker system has 40-Watt drivers found within each fo the four doors and 20-Watt tweeters within each of the A-pillars. A four-channel internal amplifier helps power the 200-Watt system. In the Harman Kardon configuration, there are eight speakers: 50-Watt drivers within each of the front doors, a 50-Watt centre channel speaker within the dashboard, 20-Watt tweeters within the A-pillars, a 25-Watt speaker within each of the rear doors, and a 100-Watt subwoofer in the boot. An external eight-channel amplifier completes the system, to output 340 Watts in total.

The omission of a subwoofer in the stock configuration can be felt. Those sub-bass tones are cut short with Diddy & The Weeknd & French Montana’s single titled ‘Another One Of Me’ lacking that much-needed low-end rumble. That’s not to be confused, however, with the system’s ability to deliver a hearty mid-bass slam. Both at the front and rear of the cabin, the speakers housed within each of the four doors do an excellent job; granted they won’t quite compete with premium systems that offer better quality, but in the grand scheme of things, we have no complaints.

Unsurprisingly, this does have an effect on the mid-range tones, namely the lower mids, which sound quite pushed back and recessed. A temptation is to add a few notches to the ‘Midrange’ EQ, however, doing so will result in lowered vocal accuracy and an odd reverb – as such, adding only one click is advised.

This leads us to the treble extension, which is pretty zesty at the top end. Due to the inclusion of the dedicated tweeters, music comes to life at the front of the cabin. Alas, the omission of said speakers does hinder the experience for those sat at the rear; the system fails to reproduce that toe-tapping feeling.

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Speaking of which, the overall soundstage reproduction is quite disappointing. The system has a uni-directional sound due to its limited speaker configuration; even for those sat at the front, there isn’t that degree of engagement and fulfilment. Nonetheless, there’s a competent level of instrument separation that can be heard at the front of the cabin. This helps keep the front passengers excited when listening to more challenging tracks or live recordings.

Finally, onto cabin noise, the Sportage provides an impressive level of noise isolation for a vehicle of its class; granted there’s a bit of wind and tyre noise that creeps in at higher speeds, but it’s minimal for an SUV. Using a sound meter, we recorded 35-36 dBA at a standstill (this increases to 45-46 dBA with the engine engaged); driving at 20mph, 49-52 dBA; driving at 30-40mph, 53-57 dBA; and at 70mph, 65-69 dBA.

Kia Sportage audio review

Read next: Hyundai Tucson audio review: Krell upgrade?

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Kia Sportage’s audio system

On the whole, the stock six-speaker system found in the Kia Sportage is rather disappointing. It doesn’t excel throughout the sound frequency range and is let down by its recessed mid-range reproduction and its sub-bass extension that’s cut short.

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If you’re eyeing up the Kia, you might want to consider upgrading to the GT Line S for its Harman Kardon audio system alone. It is a shame, however, that the HK system is not available as an option in the cheaper trims. With that said, there are also alternative vehicles that you might want to consider.

What do you make of the audio system? Let us know in the comments or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Christopher Minasians
Christopher is an avid car enthusiast and techie. In his spare time, he reviews the latest consumer electronic products on his YouTube channel, TotallydubbedHD. Elsewhere, he practices Taekwondo, in which he has held a black belt for several years and coaches at a national level. He also speaks fluent English, French, Armenian, and loves to practice freestyle street dance.
kia-sportage-audio-review-upgrade-to-gt-line-sThe Kia Sportage houses six speakers as standard. However, in the GT Line S, you'll find an eight-speaker Harman Kardon system. The latter provides better low-end extension due to the inclusion of a subwoofer and is more engaging thanks to an additional centre speaker at the front of the cabin. Consider upgrading to the top-spec model if audio fidelity is important to you, alternatively look at other vehicles altogether.


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