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2011 Kia Sportage Review - "Best in Class" - VIDEO ENHANCED

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2011 Kia Sportage

See Also: Kia Buyers Guide
See Also: E-Carmony: Is The 2011 Kia Sportage Your Perfect Match?


By Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor-at Large
The Auto Channel

Kia, long under the shadow of Hyundai, its bigger corporate cousin, is emerging as a unique automotive personality with outstanding, good looking vehicles. A few years ago Kia retained noted German automotive designer, Peter Schreyer as its design chief. Schreyer is famous for his previous work at Volkswagen and Audi, but is now eclipsing has former associates with designs for the new 2011 Sportage.

During an automotive design seminar I attended earlier this year in Seoul, Schreyer in comments about his new work for Kia said, “The exterior design is what catches a person’s interest, eye and attention, but the engineering and technology are of equal importance and must work together in a harmonious manner.”

If the new Sportage, unveiled to automotive media types recently in San Francisco and arriving in dealers stores now, is a prototype of Schreyer’s vision for the future, Kia is starting to cast its own big shadow! This is the best of the new compact CUVs (crossover utility vehicles) combining design, engineering and technology into one effective, efficient and economical vehicle. Highlights include:

Masculine Design – this is not a wimpy looking vehicle, if anything it makes its presence known from every angle with looks of a compact, powerful linebacker who knows what he’s all about: power, strength and balance. In car-designer-speak, they do have a lexicon of their own, the shoulder line moving the length visually connects the headlamps to the taillights as a signature look. On the road test South of San Fran the vehicle turned heads. The Sportage is certainly distinctive stylistically, not a derivative me too design.

Engineering & Techno-speak – a 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing provides 176 hp and better fuel economy than the previous model Sportage V6 powerplant. There’s an optional 2.0 four-cylinder engine with turbo that delivers V6 power and a 100 more hp. Fuel ratings are an acceptable 21 city/28 hwy mpg. It’s available in all-wheel or front wheel drive models with either a six speed automatic with Sportmatic® clutchless shifting or six speed stick. I drove both and liked the automatic in-town (San Francisco traffic can be disconcerting) and the stick on the highway. Making a decision I would suggest the automatic for most drivers.

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A Look Inside the Sportage – the interior augments the exterior design with a sleek transition to a contemporary looking cockpit albeit within budget restraints. This is not a fussy, festive looking interior, rather it has a distinct masculine feeling that most women I believe, will also appreciate.

The LX model comes standard with:

  • Air conditioning
  • Power windows
  • 12-volt power outlets in the front and cargo areas
  • Power side mirrors with integrated led indicators
  • Tilt-adjustable steering wheel
  • Keyless entry with panic alarm
  • Multi-way adjustable front seats.
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seats
  • LED string of running lights evocative of Audi’s running lights

The EX model has upgraded features including:

  • Leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Telescopic steering wheel
  • Illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Automatic folding rear seats
  • Dual-zone temperature control air-conditioner with ionized filtration
  • Illuminated and cooled glove box
  • Power driver’s seat with lumbar support

Standard Features in both LX and EX

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  • AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system
  • SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities w/3 months complimentary service. 
  • USB audio input jacks for connecting with MP3 players
  • Bluetooth® wireless technology connectivity
  • Steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls for compatible devices
  • UVO powered by Microsoft®, an advanced hands-free in-car communication and entertainment system (standard on EX models) that enables drivers and passengers to answer and place phone calls, receive and respond to SMS text messages, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences. HD Radio® also will be made available to enhance listening enjoyment.

Naturally there are a number of optional upgrades for both the LX and EX models that will add to personal enjoyment and driving pleasure. More info at Kia Buyers Guide.

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The Sportage Driving Experience – after sliding into the front seat I went through my pre-drive ritual check list of adjusting seat, all mirrors and the head restraint. The front view through the windshield was fine, the side and rear windows seemed a scouch small but did not detract from visibility. The instrument panel was clean and uncluttered as was the infotainment controls. I turned the key and started the engine. First thought: very nice and quiet too. This thought continued throughout the entire ride and drive. This is an exceptionally quiet vehicle on most road surfaces. Handling and steering are nimble and responsive on the twisty roads and California famously crowded freeways. Climbing a couple of mini-mountains was restrained rather than responsive. The front is comfortable with good leg room, sitting in the back, like almost all vehicles except long wheel base models, is minimally adequate.


Recognition – Recently the new Kia Sportage received the coveted"Top Safety Pick" recognition by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the small SUV category by receiving the organization's top honor by earning "Good" ratings -- the highest achievable -- in frontal, side, rear and rollover impact crash safety tests.  The Sportage aso was awarded an ISO 14040 environmental certificate following a rigorous assessment of all environmental aspects, from production to day-to-day driving through recycling.

Bottom Line – affordable pricing is a hallmark of Kia as are its guarantees.

  • Base model -- $18,295
  • LX model -- $20,295
  • EX model - $23,295

Warranty -- very inclusive program including

  • 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty,
  • 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty
  • 5-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty.
  • 5 -year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the vehicle coverage.

    Without a shadow of a doubt, the new 2011 Kia Sportage represents quality at a very fair price.

    Click PLAY to watch Kia Sportage in San Francisco video