All photos by Kia
The first time you see the totally redesigned 2011 Kia Sportage you’re going to be impressed with the design. This sporty crossover is a real eye-catcher with a sleek and modern look that makes you completely forget the previous versions of this vehicle. The Sportage was designed by Peter Schreyer, former designer for Audi who has taken over as the Chief Design Officer at Kia. I had the EX AWD version to drive for a week, and I didn’t want to give it back.
The new Sportage looks great from every angle. The roof lines are low and create an aerodynamic look to the vehicle. Our test version was metallic orange, a color I wouldn’t ordinarily think of choosing, but it worked great on the Sportage without looking gaudy at all. I also loved the18-inch alloy wheels which add to the unique look of the vehicle.
The front of the vehicle is particularly striking. It’s similar to trends we’re seeing with other vehicles, with the headlights wrapping around to the side of the front end, but the overall look with the chrome front grill, the headlights and the front fog lights is truly unique.
The sporty exterior design is matched by an equally impressive interior. Our orange Sportage was decked out with a black leather interior with exposed stitching on the seats and prominent orange accents on the doors. It might be too much for some, but it worked with the fun image represented by the vehicle. I liked the clean design of the dash, and all of the controls were easy to use. The leather-wrapped steering wheel was comfortable and I felt very comfortable in the eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The interior volume is sacrificed a bit with the lower roof. The cargo space includes a maximum of 26.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.6 cubes with the folding rear seats down.
Our Kia had additional premium features like two-level heated front seats, an air-cooled driver’s seat, push button start, a panoramic sunroof and the Navigation/Premium Audio option package which includes SIRIUS and a rear back-up camera
The Sportage is not going to blow you away with its performance, and it can’t match the power of pricier and larger crossovers. It has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 176 hp @ 6000 rpm and a 6 speed automatic transmission. But the vehicle was fun to drive and it handled well. I used it mostly for city driving and came away very impressed. The smooth transmission helped. The Sportage zipped around corners with ease and it’s a very comfortable driving experience. On the highway it performed fine, but pure acceleration is lacking. The mileage is solid at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
With the new Sportage, Kia is making a statement about where it’s headed as a company. This bold design is going to attract attention and brings real sex appeal to the brand. Younger buyers will love it, along with those who are young at heart and want to have fun with their cars. For a price in the mid-$20,000 range, even our EX AWD version with all the extras was very affordable.
Click the thumbnails below to see full versions of each photo.