By KBB.com Editors
The Kia Sportage is the brand's longest-running nameplate and despite this, the Sportage SUV has mostly gone unnoticed in the minds of shoppers in the compact utility vehicle segment. Overshadowed by more well-known names like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, Kia's crossover was mainly considered for its low entry-price but not always held in the highest regard. For 2011, Kia hopes that its all-new Sportage will change some minds, and while the all-new-for-2011 Kia Sportage might not exactly be a game changer, it sure ups the ante in terms of style, in-cabin technology and overall value.
If you're on a modest budget, but still want all the capability, space and comfort that a compact SUV can provide, the 2011 Kia Sportage has a low entry price and an impressive list of standard features. Also, some may find its distinct looks more attractive than those of the Sportage's competitors.
The 2011 Kia Sportage SUV's styling makes it stand out among competitors, but it is polarizing. Those looking for something more subtle may find themselves more attracted to the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.
The 2011 Kia Sportage all-new this year, with a new look, new in-cabin technology and a new 4-cylinder that's standard across the board (with the single exception of the turbo 2.0-liter in the SX trim), with no V6 offered. Offered in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (awd) versions, the 2011 Sportage also includes a multitude of segment firsts on its list of standard features.
Driving Impressions Aesthetics aside, the compact crossover SUV's driving dynamics are what put the "sport" in Sportage. With both the front-drive and awd forms, we found that in comparison to the Toyota...RAV4 and Honda CR-V, the Kia Sportage rides a little stiff, and while this compromises highway comfort it makes up for it in the corners. Add in some well-weighted steering (although not razor sharp), and it's clear that Sportage is definitely the sportiest compact SUV in its class. The 2.4-liter and 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines that motivate the Sportage both offer ample power in any driving situation, with our favorite being the latter turbocharged variant found in the Sportage SX. The 2.4-liter is more than capable in climbing steep hills and handling quick passing maneuvers, but the turbocharged 2.0-liter adds a new level of driving fun.
More sun equates to more fun and this dual-section sunroof lets the rear-seat occupants stare at the wonders above.
2.0-liter turbocharged engine
Found in the Sportage SX, the 260-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine makes the car surprisingly quick and a lot more fun to drive.
The sporty design of the 2011 Kia Sportage carries over to the interior, which incorporates sharp edges and an overall futuristic feel. That's not to say that it's not functional, though. The rear seat can be easily folded to increase the cargo volume from 26.1 cubic feet to a more generous 54.6, which is much smaller than that of the Honda CR-V's 72.9, but that compact SUV doesn't have the same sense of style. Cloth seating surfaces are standard, while leather comes with an option package, as does the panoramic sunroof. Two things we must mention about the panoramic sunroof though: Only the front section slides open, and both sections are shielded by manually opened covers.
The 2011 Kia Sportage's design is a far cry from the model it replaces. Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer (known for his work on the current Audi TT), brought the Sportage back to the drawing board and completely revamped its styling, incorporating shapelier lines and edges, sweeping angles and a higher beltline. The result is some serious unique styling, with a sharply angled headlights and a large grille up front, sloping side character lines and high-placed taillights, all of which give the Sportage SUV an aggressive stance and a look that sets it apart from almost anything else on the road.
The 2011 Kia Sportage is offered in four front-wheel-drive trim levels: base, LX, EX and SX, with all-wheel drive available across the board. Standard equipment across all trim levels is air conditioning, power accessories, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a rear under-floor storage compartment, and a satellite-radio-equipped audio system with four speakers. Some notable standard features that come with the EX and SX trims include Kia's UVO infotainment system, back-up warning system, push-button start, a cooling glovebox, and auto-climate control.
All of the options available for the 2011 Kia Sportage come in the form of packages. Some noteworthy highlights of the Sportage option packages include a navigation system, heated front seats, a cooled driver's seat, a panoramic sunroof, and a premium audio system with a subwoofer.
The 2011 Kia Sportage's new 2.4-liter engine is more powerful and fuel efficient than the engine it replaces, and the turbocharged 2.0-liter is a welcomed replacement for the previous V6. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which delivers impressive fuel-economy numbers and can shifted manually. A 6-speed manual transmission is available, but only on the base trim level.
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (manual), 170 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (automatic)
168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (manual), 163 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (FWD, manual), 22/31 (FWD, Auto), 20/27 (AWD, manual), 21/28 (AWD, auto)
2.0-liter turbocharged in-line-four
260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850 - 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (FWD), 21/26 (AWD)
By john on Saturday, August 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliability, low price, style, sporty handling!"
Cons: "Bouncy ride @ low speeds rough roads. At speed O.K"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Very good dealership in Capitola, Ca. Bought Red with light grey interior. Did you know that exterior was designed by an Audi stylist! Know wonder it looks so gooood in actual metal. Better than photos!"
13 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Tom on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Steering wheel is smooth, visibility"
Cons: "EXTREMELY uncomfortable seats, no interior storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I completely regret getting a 2014 Kia Sportage LX. I test drove an EX with leather seats that were comfortable. However, I decided to go with an LX with fabric seats. I did this because they wanted almost $400 a month for the EX. It's a KIA for crying out loud. Anyway, the drivers seat and positioning is extremely awkward and uncomfortable. The seat is rock hard and digs into your back like a fist. The LX doesn't have many adjustment options. You can only change the height, the back of the chair from back to front, and slide the whole seat forward and back. The steering wheel is positioned awkwardly as it is too tilted forward. The brake pedal sticks out too far so it is uncomfortable accelerating and braking. I was so excited to get something different because I have always had Hondas and they never let me down. Don't be tricked by the Sportage's good looks, go with a Honda CRV, Toyota Rav 4 or Subaru Forrester."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By chazhenry on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy handling, excellent driving position."
Cons: "Lack of fold flat resr seats;black interior."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The only drawback is the lack of rear seat cupholders, and a black interior. Never again on a black interior. The only other pet peeve is the lack of being able to fold the rear seats down flat for a completely flat rear cargo space."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By duker218 on Monday, June 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,050overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun, looks good, many features, compact design"
Cons: "winter road handling, mpg s/b better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"It's a very nice small SUV, "a cute ute" with a lot of bells and whistles and decent mpg. It has been good to me, no issues...and the maneuverability, handling and overall appearance is nice. It is limited in rear cargo space and towing capability, so I can't imagine really using this to do anything off-road or adventurous. It's a 4-banger which is great for commuting and everyday errands. Have to say the traction in winter is bad...could be the 18" rims and low profile tires but I say it just not a good winter vehicle. Yet overall, better than average vehicle. For the right location and right person, it will be perfect."
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By PEB on Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,650overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Style, comfort and adjustability, accessories"
Cons: "could be quieter. 23,000 miles and need new tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been exceptionally happy with the Sportage. Perfect size for me, enough cargo space. Like the adjustable height in the driver's seat as well as the heated/cooled front seats. Comfortable on long trips. Leather package holding up well. Is a little noisier than my previous vehicle which was a sedan. Very sharp looking, 3 years old and I still get positive comments from strangers. Panoramic sun roof MPG as advertised"
16 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By Jada on Saturday, May 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"2012 Sportage EX AWD with premium package. I’ve owned the car for about four months now and love it overall – makes me enjoy driving more again. A few positives: looks, peppy, tight turn ratio, smooth riding (except speed bumps). I get ave. 23-25 mpg and 26-38 mpg highway-only. Front seats are not uncomfortable, but could be slightly more “cushy”. I have to say the biggest irritation with the car is oddly the steering wheel position – at its farthest it does not come down near low enough for me and I am an average 5’6 125lbs. It is a very oddly frustrating thing they missed in this design flaw; if I sit with the seat in the right position for the wheel, my head is almost touching the roof nor far from the pillar and I don’t feel safe. If I sit at a comfortable level from the roof, the steering wheel is so high it feels like attempting to drive a bus. It lessens my steering ability ease and quickness, which would be more dangerous in a jam. I have already noticed a hindrance a few times. Other negatives, in order of importance: (1) solid front corner, back corner, and rear blind spots (even with convex stick-on mirrors) (2) very low paint quality not made to last for the long-term: looks good, but there is only 36k on my car and a PLETHORA of small dings and chips over the entire front of the car. My 120k mile, 14-year-old Mustang didn’t even have those. (3) The premium sound does not contain speakers nor produce sound most would consider “premium” and what one expects to receive when purchasing this option for a reason. I believe all they did was add more speakers and an amp, leading to (4) there is absolutely no sound leveling, so the bass level between one song to the next is atrocious and impossible not to notice, even if the volume is not up high. One will thump you out of the car and the next song you couldn’t hear bass if you have it at 100%; disturbing. Also, the only thing I have found that does not function on the vehicle – is the speed-based-volume. (5) There is a noise coming from my steering wheel that is only noticed when first starting the car and pulling out – sounds like something simple like plastic or external materials rubbing when turning the wheel, but who am I to say it isn’t something more serious. (6) I am a woman I found that the gas pedal is dangerous while wearing heels (again, something that never existed with the Mustang. My heels slides on the plastic piece attached to the bottom of the pedal, forcing me to take them off to drive; I have carpeted what I could, but still don’t feel is a non-issue as was in previous car. (7) Sometimes somewhere between 1st and 3rd gear the car acts like it’s not sure what it wants to do so stutters, or more accurately – it feels like when you shift a stick shift of a truck into gear. Has only been minor so far – hoping it stays a non-issue. (8) The back seat does not recline nor move. Appears they added this feature on the new models. Cheapness: The first test-drive, I passed on the car solely because my logic was if the interior felt this cheap (mainly the dash and hollow “handles” surrounding the cup holders), that doesn’t reassure me that the mechanics are not the same and this car will last me over the years. I still have a concern for this for the future because after purchasing the car, I found that I can bend in both the front and back bumper areas with my fingers. WOW; talk about solid. ?! However, even with those drawbacks (could also do without the entirely-glass roof - gives me anxiety), I still really like the vehicle. As long as nothing major changes, I could definitely keep this long term."
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful