2011 Kia Sportage: The gauntlet’s been thrown

15 Nov 2010 | 2,256 views | No Comment
If ever there was a car destined to spell trouble for its competitors, this one's it: the 2011 Kia Sportage. 2011 kia sportage First, the obvious.  If you can find a more beautiful small SUV, good luck. It's expensive looking, has an unusual futuristic profile,  and interesting character lines as well. This car looks waty more expensive than its competitors, and undercuts them with a lower price and more features.   The design is simply stunning, and it is one more example that Kia has now moved to the front of the pack when it comes to design, rubbing shoulders with the best in the business. You doubt us? Look at the new Sorento. Or the equally new 2011 Optima. Or the Forte. Or any number of other fresh designs by this company, some of which we've seen and all of which will get your juices flowing.      We think of  Kia now as a youthful, fashionable brand that offers value and terrific style at a very affordable price: Think of an automotive-Ikea or Crate and Barrel, maybe. Not bad company for the image, no?      The test car was a 2011 Kia Sportage EX with all wheel drive, with a base price of $24,795. The standard equipmaent list for that money was just about endless.  Full power accessories. six speed automatic. Electronic stability control. Downhill brake/hill start assist control. A rollover protection system. Dual Zone climate system. Electrically adjustable outside mirrors. Satellite radio. Power front seats with lumbar controls.  a 60/40 split rear folding seats. PLenty of cupholders. A rear spoiler. Fabulous looking road wheels. And on and on. Powering the base, LX and EX examples of the Sportage is a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine that produces 176 hp and 168 pound-feet of torque. The base model is only available with a six-speed manual transmission, while other trims receive a six-speed automatic as standard. LX and EX buyers may also choose between front- and all-wheel drive. Later in the model year, a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine will be available in SX trim.            The Sportage comes in three levels of trim, including base, LX and EX, and they are all powered by a 176 horsepower, 2.4 liter four. A six speed automatic is standard on all but the base model.     If you've got a need for speed, you may want to wait for the SX version later in the model year that will have a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine, and we expecdt that one to be a real barnstormer. Fuel mileage for the Sportage is pretty decent:  22 mpg city/31 mpg highway mpg and for a front wheel drive version equipped with anautomatic. If you get an all wheel drive version with automatic, expect mileage to drop a bit: 21/28.  The government estimates the annual fuel cost to be $1,696 based on 15,000 miles of driving at $2.60 a gallon.      Inside, the Sportage has a pretty nice interior with comfortable leather seats, and nicely designed door panels and dashboard. Gauges are really easy to understand, and we especially liked the audio/navi system, which was among the easiest to use  that we've encountered in quite some time.      There really weren't any problems with the Sportage, but you may find cargo space to be somewhat less than the competition, and brace yourself when you hit a speed bump because the ride can be rough at times. Almost universally, respondents to a chat room at Edmunds.com absolutely loved the designm, and they applauded both the interior comfort and wealth of features. They also liked the panoramic roof--a feature we enjoyed too. But they want a bit better gas mileage, more colors to choose from, anmd more variety in the size of cupholders.

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