By Joe Santos - Updated Date: 9/23/2011
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.
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.