Stepping up the enthusiast appeal of its already popular compact crossover, the 2011 Kia Sportage SX Turbo has arrived on the scene as the new range-topper for the lineup. To complement its more potent powetrain and class-leading fuel economy, the new Kia Sportage SX Turbo also gets a number of functional chassis upgrades and offers unique exterior/interior trim elements to set it apart from the current LX and EX models.

At the heart of this hot new Sportage is the automaker's Theta II 2.0-liter Turbo GDI engine, the same force-fed four found in the 2011 Kia Optima Turbo. It produces 256 horsepower -- 86 more than the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four in all other Sportage models -- and 264 lb-ft of peak torque. A dual-scroll turbo unit helps banish lag and optimize low-end responsiveness, while a six-speed automatic transmission used in both the front-drive and all-wheel drive SX Turbo variants contributes to outstanding fuel efficiency, netting a 22-mpg city rating and a 27-mpg highway mark. To help put its extra performance potential to best use, the 2011 Kia Sportage SX Turbo kit also includes a sport-tuned suspension that brings stiffer spring and shock tuning as well as special 18-inch alloy wheels and bigger tires.

Beyond its bespoke wheel/tire fitment, exterior changes to the 2011 Kia Sportage SX Turbo are confined to a special SX grille insert, side sill moldings and chrome oval dual exhaust outlets. Inside, the SX Turbo gets a bit more style in the form of aluminum door-sill plates and a Supervision gauge cluster. It's also is available with an exclusive Orange Color Package and Blue Color Package that add appropriately hued accent elements and contrast stitching to the seats, center console, door trim, steering wheel and air vents.

Pricing for the 2011 Kia Sportage SX Turbo starts at $26,490 for the front- drive version, with the SX Turbo AWD model opening at $27,990.

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