Fleshing out the first look it provided at Geneva, Kia filled in the powertrain and features blanks for the U.S.-spec version of its all-new compact SUV crossover in New York. On sale here in mid-year, the boldly styled and feature-rich 2011 Kia Sportage expands on an already successful formula in ways that Kia hopes will appeal to an even broader and more sophisticated buyer group.
Slightly longer, lower and wider than the vehicle it replaces, the new 2011 Kia Sportage wraps it more expressive and more aerodynamic bodywork around a far stronger understructure that employs a significantly greater amount of high-strength steel. In addition to being quieter, the new Sportage features a redesigned and subframe-mounted fully-independent suspension that improves ride comfort and handling precision in both front-drive and optional all-wheel drive configurations. The latter setup delivers 100-percent of engine torque to the front wheels during normal driving conditions to enhance fuel economy, but can instantly transfer some of that force rearward when it detects slippage. The system also includes a manually-selectable "Lock Mode" for particularly bad conditions that sets a 50/50 split at speeds of up to 25 mph for enhanced stability.
As before, the 2011 Kia Sportage will be available in LX and EX trims, and both will be powered by a 2.4-liter/176-horsepower four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Value Timing (CVVT). This new four, which delivers both more power and better fuel economy than the optional 2.7-liter/173-horse V6 engine used previously, can be teamed with either a six-speed manual or a Kia-designed six-speed automatic transmission that has a Sportmatic manual-style shift feature. Later in the model year, Kia will add a new 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected gasoline four to the Sportage's option list, although no output figures were released for that engine.
In keeping with Kia tradition, all Sportage variants will come with a long list of standards, starting with safety features that include stability/traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic force distribution and brake assist, Hills Start Assist Control, Downhill Brake Control and front/front-side/side-curtain airbags. Highlighting the LX package are air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities plus three months complimentary service, AUX/USB audio input jacks, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted auxiliary controls, an EcoMinder economy indicator, 60/40 split/folding rear seat, and 16-inch alloy wheels mounting 215/70R16 low-rolling resistance tires.
Stepping up to EX trim adds enhancements like automatic dual-zone climate control, a power driver's seat, auto-folding rear seat, cooled glovebox, keyless entry, and 18-inch alloys wearing 235/55 rubber. The 2011 Sportage will offer the Microsoft-based UVO advanced hands-free communication system as an EX standard and an LX option. EX buyers also can opt for leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof and a rearview camera. HD radio will be added to the list in the near future. No word yet on pricing for the 2011 Kia Sportage, but expect it to remain a serious value proposition.