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2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD Review

2011 Kia Sportage (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Kia Sportage

SEE ALSO: Kia Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO: E-Carmony: Is the 2011 Kia Sportage Your Perfect Match?



Model: 2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 176 hp @ 6,000 rpm/168 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 174.8 x 73.0 x 64.4 in.
Tires: P235/55R18
Cargo volume: 26.1/54.6 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down )
Fuel economy: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/20.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal.
Curb weight: 3,355 lbs.
Sticker: $29,990 (includes $695 inland freight and handling and $4,500 in options ($3,000 for premium package with leather and $1,500 for navigation with premium audio

The Bottom Line: There's a growing market for compact CUVs these days and the Sportage fills that bill nicely. While it isn't overpowering and won't do you much good in serious off-roading, it will handle snow and the lack of power creates better fuel economy.

If you're in the market for a small crossover utility vehicle (CUV), there are a lot of vehicles in this ever-expending market. Among the latest is the redesigned Kia Sportage, which, like other Kia vehicles of late, has placed itself squarely in the middle of the market and is ready to make some noise.

The Sportage is compact to be sure. The 103.9-inch wheelbase is .4 inch longer than the predecessor, and the vehicle itself is three inches longer. So besides a nice exterior redesign, this makes for increases interior room as well.

For example, the Sportage has very comfortable and roomy front seating with decent rear legroom and headroom as well. The absence of a center hump in the rear floor makes it possible to carry a third passenger in relative comfort. We used the rear primarily to carry a pair of car seats, usually filled with granddaughters.

Behind that second row is a cargo area that is a generous 26.1 cubic feet in size. Fold down the rear seat backs and that volume grows to 54.6 cubic feet. Since CUVs are primarily used by families (they're the new station wagons), the cargo area should be able to handle most families' luggage, etc.

Even though the Sportage is powered by the same engine/transmission combination in the Sonata, the power is down to 176 horses in the CUV, vs. 198 in the Sonata. Despite this 22 hp reduction, the Sportage didn't appear to be underpowered. We were able to pull out safely onto Interstates and never complained about not being able to maintain the ambient speed. The pushbutton start worked well with the keys in my pocket or in the front door when my wife had to go back to retrieve something we had forgotten.

Ride quality is very good. Road surface variations tend to be transmitted to the cabin in the form of noise, although it isn't loud. On good roads, though, the ride is almost silent.

The Sportage was obviously designed by the same team that did the Sonata redesign. The similarities in the hood/front fender junctions are unmistakable. And then there's that color - Techno Orange. Even if you're not considering a Sportage, you must visit your local dealer just to look at the color palette.

There are LED running lights that give the Sportage an Audi-like look.

Up front, the driver has a power seat with heating and cooling. The front passenger must make do with a manual seat and just heating. There is, however, dual zone heating for the air.

We were pleased that the sun visors has extenders and there's also a toll ticket holder next to the vanity mirrors on both visors.

There's a USB/AUX hookup in a small cubby at the base of the center stack that as just enough room for an iPod and a cell phone. That said, sound quality was very good. We tried the iPod, satellite radio, FM and AM stations and, except for some initial difficulties figuring out how to tune the radio side of the equation, we were pleased with the audio. The readouts on the navigation screen were informative.

A nice feature is a cooling glove box. It isn't large enough for a six-pack (or f soda, of course), but you could fit a Starbucks Frappuccino bottle in there if you wanted. The cup holders in the console are large and can handle almost anything. They could use rubber fingers, though, if the cup or bottle is smaller.

Rear passengers can take advantage of the back half of the double sun roof.

The huge rear hatch lifts easily to stow cargo.

All wheel drive works well in the rain, and we had ample opportunity to check it during the week we drove the Sportage.

Overall, the 2011 Kia Sportage is a good redesign that adds style to the compact CUV segment.

2010 The Auto Page Syndicate