By KBB.com Editors
Those who remember the original Sportage SUV probably won't recognize the current model. Gone are the body-on-frame architecture, somewhat harsh ride and moderate engine power. The 2009 Kia Sportage derives its underpinnings from a car platform to give it a smooth ride, improved handling and better crash-test results. The trade-off is an inability to tackle the harshest sorts of off-road terrain (the Sportage lacks a high/low transfer case and locking differentials), but heavy snow and mud are still easily managed. And, while the humble Sportage must contend with perennial favorites such as the Honda CR-V and Jeep Liberty, many people will find its low price and long list of standard features quite tempting.
If you're on a modest budget but don't want to give up comfort or convenience, you'll appreciate Kia's approach to the compact SUV segment. And, while its V6 engine produces little more power than Honda's in-line four, you'll appreciate the V6's smoothness with every tip of the accelerator.
If you're an individual who cherishes an established nameplate, Kia (despite dramatic sales growth) lacks the long history of some other brands. And though Kia has definitely made strides versus segment leaders from Toyota and Honda, the Sportage might be a shade down from them in product refinement.
The 2009 Kia Sportage receives a slight freshening, with a new grille and headlamp treatment, color keyed front and rear bumpers and new 16- and 17-inch wheels. A navigation system is now offered and a new radio with auxiliary audio and USB input jacks, is made standard on all models.
Driving Impressions Kia's product team has hit the sweet spot in achieving a ride and handling balance completely appropriate to the target consumer. With a curb weight of roughly 3,400 pounds, the...2009 Kia Sportage is no lightweight. That fairly substantial heft is reflected in a feeling of solidity from the unit body structure. Suspension settings are biased toward comfort and the steering provides some appreciated feedback. The V6 engine, while offering two more cylinders than the 2009 Honda CR-V (Toyota offers a V6 with its RAV4), doesn't seem any more responsive than the Honda when connected to the standard four-speed automatic. We'd view the Sportage's on-road demeanor as creditable, although not entertaining, but, for an SUV, being creditable is more important.
The Sportage's distinctive design is modern, clean and attractive. In an era of generic styling emanating from many Asian studios, it's refreshing to see something truly distinctive without the carmaker resorting to "shock and awe."
Quality Interior Appointments
Kia has made great strides in quality, with improved plastics and upholstery throughout the lineup. On top of improved quality is true utility, with easy ingress and egress and a fold-flat rear seat that provides real stowage capability.
Most Sportage prospects will be pleased by its interior, combining real functionality with a number of upscale touches. The attractive cloth upholstery gives an impression of comfort and durability. The instrument panel has easy-to-read gauges and the center-mounted cluster has controls that are easily identified and appropriately ergonomic. Adding to the upscale appeal are aluminized accents on both the instrument and door panels. Seating position is appropriately upright and, while the available sunroof encroaches slightly on rear-seat headroom, most adults will find either front or rear seating to be generous. As with most compact SUVs, the fifth passenger's area, in the center of the rear seat, is somewhat marginal.Exterior
The 2009 Kia Sportage represents a dramatic departure from the original Sportage design, which was discontinued in 2002. Today's Sportage wears a curvaceous, almost organic look, with a get-up-and-go attitude accentuated by short overhangs, a relatively wide track, ample tires (235/60-16 all-season radials) and generous headroom. The 2009 model receives a revised front end that touts the new face of Kia design. New wheels add a sporty look and 17-inch alloys are offered for the first time. The Sportage's hatch features an opening window for convenience, while the V6's dual exhaust system with chrome tips accentuates the Sportage's SUV intensions.
Kia's tagline, "The Power to Surprise," is abundantly evident when viewing the Sportage's window sticker. A high level of standard equipment is part of Kia's core strategy. Available in either LX or EX variants, the Sportage enjoys an almost opulent level of equipment, especially considering its price range. Young families concerned with safety will appreciate the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and traction control (TCS). Audiophiles will enjoy an AM/FM/CD/MP3 system with six speakers and a three-month subscription to SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Privacy side glass is standard across the board, while a sunroof is included on the EX at no additional charge. Finally, while we wish the roof rails offered more than the stated 100-pound capacity, they are included in the base window sticker price as standard equipment.
The LX V6 Sport Package adds body colored side cladding, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and 17-inch wheels. On the EX, the Luxury Package includes leather seats and trim, heated front seats, automatic headlamps and a six-disc CD changer, amplifier and subwoofer. Stand alone items include four-wheel drive, a navigation system (EX only), remote start and a number of dealer-installed upgrades.
The base LX utilizes a fairly conventional (for the category) 2.0 liter in-line four, while the EX benefits from the 2.7 liter DOHC V6. It, along with the Hyundai Tucson and Ford Escape, were among the first to offer six-cylinder power in the compact utility category. We were not overly impressed by the responsiveness of the V6; it will meet consumer expectations, but we don't believe it will exceed them. The four-cylinder should be reserved for light duty only – no full loads, light towing and little exposure to work at high altitudes.
2.0-liter in-line 4
140 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 (2WD, manual), 20/25 (2WD, automatic), 19/24 (4WD, manual)
173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
178 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/23 (2WD, automatic), 18/23 (4WD, automatic)
By Gigi on Sunday, March 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,542overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Lots of interior room, yet easy to park in small spaces. Heated seats are very nice and we added on auto-start after market. Drives well, good turning circle, anti-lock brakes work well. Never any problems and we travel often. Great deal, great warranty, nice family car without having a van."
By DAWN on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"THE DESIGN OF THIS CAR IS RIDICULOUS.......I BOUGHT THIS CAR USED 14 MONTHS AGO...I BROUGHT IT IN TO MY MECHANIC TO DO A SIMPLE TUNEUP !!! WE FOUND OUT THAT 3 OF THE SPARK PLUGS ARE ON TOP OF THE INTAKE MANIFOLD WHICH IS WHERE ALL 6 SHOULD BE, BUT THE OTHER 3 ARE UNDERNEATH THE INTAKE MANIFOLD. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A HUGE JOB IT IS TO REMOVE THE INTAKE MANIFOLD JUST TO INSTALL 3 SPARK PLUGS. THEREFORE, THE DEALER CHARGES $6OO FOR A TUNEUP & MY MECHANIC IS CHARGING $400 !!!!!!WHAT A MISTAKE !!"
By rob on Saturday, February 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "price good"
Cons: "hard seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"runs great. no problems. seats are too hard. after driving constantly seats feel like sitting on concrete. had to buy a pad for seat. only real drawback i have with vehicle. i have the 4 cyl. but power is good."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By 1SuperTrouper on Wednesday, January 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, excell quality, excell reliability"
Cons: "I don't have any"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this vehicle new and honestly, I have never, ever had a problem with this vehicle. When I do trade for a new one I will feel sad to let this little jewel go. I have had Fords, Chevy's, Dodge, Mercury, Mitsubishi vehicles in my lifetime and none, absolutely none gave me the service this vehicle has. I usually have had to trade the others when they reached 70,000 miles because they started to nickel and dime me to death, not this vehicle. This vehicle has never so much as given me a rattle or squeak in its lifetime. Kia did a remarkable job in building this vehicle and when I trade, you can bet it will be for another Kia. I don't look to buy vehicles based on how expensive they are, because they only get you from point A to point B. So to have the flash and bells and whistles like many of the more high end and expensive vehicles do is just ridiculous. As it is if you want bells and whistles you can add them to your Kia. Kia has an excellent product and the right price for that product in my book. You can have a 40-50 thousand dollar vehicle and when it gets in a collision you just may well lose that. That's a big loss which I choose not to take, not to mention if it is your fault your insurance goes up and on top of that the premium you must pay just to have that expensive vehicle insured. No thank you, I'll stick with my Kia and a much lower insurance rate. Excellent vehicle, excellent price, excellent reliability, excellent quality. As I said, it only gets you from point A to point B to begin with so why does anybody want to pay 40-50 thousand dollars for a vehicle in the first place is beyond me. For a lot of people that live in cities (at least in my area) most of the city houses are valued below 100 thousand dollars, so you are saying their vehicles are on average half the price of their house. And it doesn't even come with a bed, refrigerator, stove or dishwasher. No, I'll stick with the Kia brand. One added note here. This little vehicle has had at least 1200 pounds in it as a load when I put the rear seats down, that is not counting two passengers. Yeah, it isn't a truck and yeah it did weigh the back end down so my headlights pointed up in the air a bit, but you know what? As long as I didn't act like I was on a drag strip it got me, my passenger and the load home without any problems. I would not recommend doing that on a regular basis though as it could be bad for the rear suspension. This just goes to show the excellent workmanship Kia put into this vehicle."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By vet tech on Thursday, December 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 146,894overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price,"
Cons: "The back seats aren't very comfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned my Sportage since 2007 and have put over 146,000 on it. Overall, it has been incredibly reliable with no major issues. There have been some minor issues, like with the sunroof, seat warmers, and windshield wipers, but as much as I drive (over 70 miles daily, sometimes on gravel), I haven't experienced any mechanical issues, knock on wood! The battery is still original to the car, too...it has been "dead" a couple of times, but it has come back after charging it. I test drove a BMWx3 prior to purchasing my Sportage. For the most part, my Sportage has about everything the BMW had for a fraction of the cost."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By satisfied on Monday, December 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low cost, reliable, good cargo capacity"
Cons: "Poor gas mileage, low power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is one of the best values in a car you can buy. Nothing fancy here, not loaded with the latest features but is extremely reliable, very low cost of ownership, not high powered but adequate for what it is. Surprisingly comfortable on the highway. Good cargo capacity."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful