2011 Kia Sportage SX Test Drive | Toronto Sun

2011 Kia Sportage SX

By Harry Pegg, Toronto Sun

Sportage makes small gains in SUV segment

Kia’s 2011 Sportage has a real kick to it – if you opt for the SX model with its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

This hot-to-trot little number puts 260 horses into giddy-up mode surprisingly quickly by applying 269 lb.-ft. of whip from 1,850 rpm right up to 3,000. That’s a lot more than its stablemates which use more displacement to put out just 176 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque.

It doesn’t produce tire smoke from the four 18-inch wheels, but when I step on the gas, the SX launches without hesitation and the power keeps building with a satisfying surge as the six-speed automatic transmission moves quickly through its gear set.

Getting around slower traffic on the highway is just as easy ? step on the gas and say “bye bye.” At least the slower guys get to look at an attractive rear end.

Meanwhile the saddle is a supportive perch with enough electronic adjustment to ensure a comfortable driving position.

My passenger likes the comfort, but wonders why the driver gets a heated and cooled seat while she only gets a heat setting. Pity the poor people in the second row seat?they get no temperature modification for their seats at all, but they do get a comfortable place to ride with lots of room for feet, legs and head. (Don’t even THINK about trying to stuff three full-size adults back there unless they’re really thin.)

While it’s 90 mm longer and 60 mm higher than the previous Sportage, this new version is still on the smaller size and four travelers will have to be judicious in their packing.

Storage space behind the second row seat is 740 litres. If there are just two of you on an expedition, the capacity can be doubled to 1,547 by dropping both sides of the split/folding rear seatback which, incidentally, does not fold flat.

The test vehicle shows there has been some careful selective breeding done in the Sportage stable. The lines are sleek and well proportioned and its black cherry pearlescent coat shines in the sun, highlighted by just enough chrome to enhance its beauty rather than take away from it. In fact it’s downright SX-y.

There’s everything in here I could ever want ? or need ? in a small sport ute and it’s all standard equipment. Power everything, leather seats and trim, premium audio with the appropriate input ports, smart key and push button start, Bluetooth connectivity, panoramic sunroof and navigation system, just to name a few.

At night, switches and controls are subtly lit, making things like window and lock controls easy to find in the dark. It’s a little thing, to be sure, but one of those little touches of class for which Kia is becoming noted.

That is not to say all is completely well in the Sportage world. The 18-inch wheels are shod with tires that are somewhat hard, giving a ride more like a trot than a smooth gallop at times. Otherwise the suspension handles the bumps and hollows of springtime-in-Canada roads with ease.

The low ride height would make taking an off-road romp (especially in a swamp) somewhat iffy, taking some of the “sport” out of sport utility, but bumpy back country roads are well within this little ute’s comfort zone.

Standard features that ensure you practice safe SX include six airbags, traction control, electronic stability control and ABS brakes.

I love the idea of passing things on the road, especially gas stations, and the SX turbo fuels all its enthusiasm without being a heavy drinker.

When it does have to put on the feedbag, it’s for a diet of regular fuel.


2011 Kia Sportage

Price as tested $37,195

Trim level SX

Freight $1,650

Options Black Cherry Pearl Paint ($200)

EnerGuide fuel economy ratings 9.7 L/100km city; 7.2 L/100km hwy

Observed fuel economy 9.4 L/100km over 482 km

Warranty (basic) 5 years/100,000 km (comprehensive)

Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km (comprehensive)

Competitors Ford Escape; Honda CR-V; Mazda Tribute; Mitsubishi RVR; Toyota Rav4;
Volkswagen Tiguan.

Strong Points

– performance
– handling

Weak Points

– still smaller than the rest
– low ground clearance takes the S out of SUV.

4/5 Stars

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