2011 Kia Sportage EX Luxury Review | Toronto Sun

2011 Kia Sportage EX Luxury Review

Joe Duarte, Toronto Sun – January 2011
Sportage grows up lovely
Gone are the days of Kia Sportages dashing through a parking lot for that space that is just a bit too big for a compact ute to fit in, or bog-hopping with a Cajun guide trying to bring up the excitement level of Goth band members.
This latest Sportage looks sophisticated and exciting just standing there. And the bright paint jobs available for 2011 models are probably enough to send Goth kids scrambling for their parents’ tie-die T-shirts (maybe not). It’s also a lot closer in size to the compact ute competitors of its predecessor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Sportages of past were always looked upon as the runts of the cute-ute tribe. It’s not that they were ugly; they were just small. They suited my small family as it was growing, but now that the wee dweeb has become a teen and the teen is one step closer (so we keep telling him ?) to leaving the household, it would have been a bit too small into which to load up the guitars and keyboards and still have room for the entire family.
The new Sportage has a premium air to it, put forth by smooth body panels elegantly creased in all the eye-pleasing places. And even though it’s still one of the smallest sport utility vehicles in the market, there’s plenty of comfort for four and even a fifth won’t find it too bad in the centre rear position, provided he/she is small. Due to the cut of the roof and position of the wheels, the rear doors are some of the largest found on any wagon (compact or not).
With the vehicle fully loaded up with passengers, there’s still plenty of trunk space for a week’s worth of groceries or band instruments. If you can put down one part of the 60/40 rear seat, you can probably fit in a small drum kit (maybe just a couple bongos ? ok, one bongo and a maraca).
Seats are comfortably padded and contoured, and our tester’s leather upholstery was soft and seemingly durable. Heated seats up front take the edge off on cooler mornings.
The dash presentation is modern and effective (in some of today’s vehicles, the two are apparently mutually exclusive), with radio controls a combination of buttons and dials and the heating-ventilation controls below easily manipulated by gloved hands. About the fiddliest controls you get are on the steering wheel, leaving us to constantly reach over to the centre stack to do what needs doing.
All 2011 Sportages get power from a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower and generates 168 lb.-ft. of torque. Those aren’t mind-blowing numbers, but they’re decent enough to get the relatively lightweight Sportage going uphill, downhill or through challenging winter conditions without much fuss. Out test EX came with an optional five-speed automatic, which makes it much easier to navigate in challenging terrains and surfaces.
The ride is actually quite good for a small tall vehicle. Having the wheels located just a smidgen away from the bumpers helps a lot, and the Sportage actually feels quite at home on a windy bit of road. Weight transfer is minimal and the vehicle enhances confidence on highway on and off-ramps. It’s not the type of vehicle you want on a high-speed track but for most everyday above-average-speed situations it’s quite comfortable.
It also helps that the floor is fairly close to the ground, which naturally makes it less comfortable in extreme off-road situations. It can plough through heavy dumps of snow relatively easily, but it won’t like deeply rutted trails. Still, for mild off-roading applications (such as shallow bogs) it should do fine.
Say it with me now “AIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”
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