2011 Kia Sportage Review and Road Test
2011 KIA SPORTAGE The New Darling Among Compact SUVs
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel
The opportunity to drive competing or same-segment vehicles in back-to-back drive evaluations is near-ideal. I drove Kia’s two SUV models, the Sportage and the Sorento, one week apart from each other. The Sportage is a small SUV that seats 5 and is priced starting at $18,295. The Sorento is among the larger of the compact SUVs. It seats 7 and is priced starting at $20,995. My overview of the Sportage follows and the Sorento will be available on TheAutoChannel.com in a week or two.
Recognized as a "2010 Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2011 Sportage received top ratings for front, side, rollover and rear impact protection. For 2011 Sportage offers more power (176 hp) and improved fuel economy along with the options of a panoramic sunroof, navigation, push-button start, rear camera display, LED daytime running lights and an air-cooled driver's seat (a compact SUV segment first).
Overall, I liked the Sportage. It does a very good job at what it
is supposed to do. In my urban Chicagoland environs, its compact exterior
makes for easy getting around and parking. The engine is responsive and
the transmission upshifts and downshifts smoothly. Chicago pot-holes were
well absorbed and the interior is well isolated for noise.
Three Sportage trim levels are offered, Base, LX and EX. The base trim features include air conditioning, power windows, door locks and mirrors, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service, MP3 connectivity and Bluetooth® wireless technology.
Standard exterior features include 16-inch alloy wheels matched with 215/70R16 low-rolling resistance silica tires, body-color door handles, body-color and electrically adjustable side mirrors and a six-speed manual transmission. The LX ($20,295) adds side mirror LED turn signal indicators, keyless entry, and tinted glass. And, the EX ($23,295) offers more prominent 18-inch alloy wheels mated with 235/55R18 silica tires, roof rails, a rear spoiler and chrome body trim and door handles.
An AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service is standard. Also standard are auxiliary and USB audio input jacks and Bluetooth wireless technology connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls.
Available upgrades for the LX trim include 17-inch alloy wheels paired with 225/60R17 silica tires, navigation with SIRIUS Traffic™ data, rear sonar detector and rear-view back-up camera, heated side mirrors, an air-conditioned and illuminated glove box, telescopic steering wheel, roof rails and a rear spoiler.
Sportage EX models can be further enhanced with available features, including leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, an air-cooled driver's seat, push button start with Smartkey, rear sonar detector and rear-view back-up camera, heated side mirrors and a panoramic sunroof.
Power comes from the standard 176 HP 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine. EPA fuel economy estimates for FWD are 21 city and 29 highway with the manual transmission and 22 city and 31 highway with the automatic. The AWD gets 21 city and 28 highway. A more powerful 2.0-liter turbo GDI engine, available only in a SX model ($25,795), is a four-cylinder engine that produces 260 horsepower. Offered with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or a Dynamax™ all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration paired to the six-speed automatic.
Most SUV are never driven off-road and FWD is perfectly suited for on-road driving through the city or on the highway. The AWD powertrain is for drivers who typically face more difficult road and weather conditions.
The usual array of standard safety equipment that we find on nearly all vehicles today includes driver and passenger front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags and front active headrests, four-wheel Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a Brake Assist System (BAS). Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Brake Control (DBC) also come standard on all models, the former assisting in preventing the vehicle from rolling backward when trying to pull away from an uphill gradient, while the latter locks the vehicle at slower speeds down steep grades so the driver can focus their attention on steering.
The 2011 Sportage is sold by more than 725 U.S. dealers and covered by a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the vehicle coverage.
The Kia Sportage is a cousin to the Hyundai Tucson and should be given serious consideration if you’re looking at other small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue or even the VW Tiguan.
© Larry Nutson