The 2017 Kia Sportage EX (Bruce Benedict/Bruce Benedict)
Columnist

I don’t like worrying. Simply because I want a vehicle to look nice doesn’t mean I want everything and everyone to stay away from it, to avoid putting tiny scratches or fingerprints on it, or getting into it with dust on their feet.

The vehicle has to live, it has to share my joy of ownership, provide joy to all who use it. To do that, it cannot be precious. It must be unquestionably good, yes — high quality, even — but not the least bit precious.

It matters not that royalty or celebrity might have owned or driven it. All that means is that they had some common sense.

For me, the idea that I can get almost everything offered in a far more expensive vehicle at a somewhat affordable price — $34,895 — is something to cheer about.

And let’s be clear about this: It truly is something to cheer about, the 2017 — correct, 2017 — Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD crossover-utility vehicle. Examples:

●Both interior and exterior craftsmanship substantially have been improved for 2017.

●There are two available gasoline engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque; a turbocharged (forced air) 2-liter four-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

I drove the turbo-2 SX Sportage.

Except, well, stupidly, I stopped paying attention to what I was doing. I got stopped by a polite, kind, professional, firm New Jersey state trooper while going 81 mph in a 50-mph zone. He could have given me a ticket. Instead, he had mercy on my gray hair (lots of it), and he responded favorably to my respect for him — “Yes, sir” and “No, sir,” that sort of thing.

Also, I did not argue. When you are moving 81 mph in a 50-mph zone, you shut the heck up, readily admit wrongdoing, apologize profusely and promise not to do it again.

I got stopped on Good Friday. In the Roman Catholic Church, this is the Year of Mercy. Maybe that officer was Catholic. All I know is that he certainly could have given me a hard time. Instead, he looked at me and said: “Sir, you know better than that. You could kill yourself or someone else. Slow down!”

I slowed down on my way to that day’s journey in New York City. When I left the New York-New Jersey area, I obeyed the speed limits all the way to my home in Virginia.

It wasn’t so bad. The 2017 Sportage SX is designed for easy cruising. The vehicle I drove was loaded with almost every advanced electronic safety item imaginable: electronic park assist, forward collision mitigation with automatic brake assist, lane keeping assistance.

And, oh, I really was an idiot:

The onboard navigation system in the Sportage SX displays the extant speed limit and how fast you are moving against it. Had I paid attention to that, I would’ve avoided going 81 mph in a 50 mph zone.

Dumb! Thank God for merciful police!

Nuts & Bolts
2017 Kia Sportage

Bottom line: Obey the speed limits in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.

Also: Put the compact Kia Sportage on your family transportation shopping list. It is well worth it, available in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Sportage with the turbo-2 gets good marks in all three.

Body style/layout: The 2017 Kia Sportage is a front-engine, compact front-wheel-drive crossover-utility vehicle available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Trim levels include base LX, mid-grade EX and highly equipped SX Turbo, which was driven for this column.

Engine/transmission: The 2017 Kia SX Turbo comes standard with a 2-liter, gasoline, turbocharged, four-cylinder, 16-valve engine with variable valve timing delivering 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.

Capacities: Seating is for five people. Keep in mind that the Sportage primarily is designed for urban use. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 30.7 cubic feet. With seats folded, cargo capacity is 60.1 cubic feet.

The fuel tank holds 16.4 gallons of gasoline. Regular is okay. Premium is recommended for best performance. I split the difference and bought 89-octane. It worked just fine.

Mileage: I average 23 mpg on the highway — neither great nor horrible.

Safety: Standard equipment includes ventilated front discs and solid rear disc brakes; four-wheel antilock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; pre-collision safety system; stability and traction control; adaptive headlamps; side, head and curtain air bags.

Note: This column strongly recommends purchase of available advanced electronic safety items.

Pricing: The 2017 Kia Sportage starts at $34,295 with dealer’s invoice price of $32,406. Price as tested is $34,895 including $892 in mostly cosmetic options and a $895 factory-to-dealer shipment charge.