There is a weird and mostly unexpected phenomenon that occurs at times. When I got the word that I would be receiving the 2011 Kia Sportage EX for review I couldn’t recall in my mind ever seeing the mid-level SUV on the road in person. As I stepped outside the restaurant that I was in, I just happened to see a silver Sportage passing through the intersection. A few days later I spotted a bright Red Sportage EX driving down I270. It seems that only when your attention is turned to it that you can see just how many are out there on the road. After my run in experiences with the Sportage and seeing its striking styling I was very excited to finally get my hands on one. Ever since Blake Griffins eye opening dunk over the Optima in the 2011 NBA Dunk contest, Kia’s market exposure has shot through the roof, and I was anxious to see how the Sportage measured up.
The 2011 Kia Sportage is one good looking Crossover
Kia’s implementation of its Audi inspired LED’s
The exterior of the Sportage is very attractive, especially compared to previous models . The sleek body lines and slender headlights give the vehicle a very modern look. It seems to me that the new “in” thing to do in the automotive industry is to have LED’s in your headlights and I tell you what, Kia hit the nail on the head with their incorporation of that feature. When riding through the parking lot at near dusk I had someone approach me and ask if I were driving an Audi SUV, I would definitely take that as a compliment. The model I had the task of reviewing came in Kia’s “Signal Red” a very bright color but it looked great along with the 18” alloy wheels it came on. As is stands I feel the Kia Sportage is one of the better looking crossover SUV’s on the market today as Kia’s designers have incorporated some of the more up to date features and trends found in higher end cars in the industry.
The Panaramic Sunroof really opens up the interior
Clean easy to navigate interior
Chronometer style gauges
As we focus on the interior of the Sportage you can automatically tell it’s another one of the high points of the vehicle. Our EX test model came fully loaded with ebony leather as well as dual climate controls, Navigation, Push button start and backup camera/ warning system. One of my personal favorite optional features on our Kia Sportage was the panoramic sunroof. Once you enter the vehicle you cannot help but to look up and marvel at the wide open windows that span the entire length of the vehicle allowing in tons of natural light. Another noted feature of the interior was the leg room. I had a good friend of mine check out the car to see if he would be able to find a comfortable setting. Within a few min of adjustments he was able to find the appropriate settings for his comfort in the driver’s seat and still have enough leg room behind him, not bad for someone who stands 6’ 5”. From the modern easy to read chronometer style gauges to the USB/iPod inputs and even the smart key with push button start, the 2011 Sportage was easy to love. The interior styling was one that wasn’t overly done nor was it a cheap reiteration of higher end interiors, but instead it was a refreshing twist of its own identity.
Kia’s 176HP motor in the EX Model
Out of all the high points in the Sportage I can’t say that I was at all impressed with what the crossover SUV had on the performance side of things. The EX model comes standard with a 4cyl 176HP engine with 168Lbs tq but on a vehicle that weighs in at over 3100lbs power isn’t exactly a strong point. On the few occasions I needed to apply heavy throttle, the Sportage seemed to hesitate to downshift. When the vehicle did finally respond and down shifted the throttle output was a bit underwhelming. In my week with the Sportage I noted that I was just about on par with Kia’s MPG estimates with about 19MPG city and 25 Highway which sort of offsets my initial concerns on performance. If performance is still a feature that is really important to your purchase I would suggest looking into the Sportage SX model which comes with a turbocharged 269hp engine forking out 269lbs tq. That should be enough beef to satisfy any worry of performance.
Road noise and ride quality were also a negative notation as the cabin and ride quality wasn’t as quiet and smooth as we expected it to be. These various concerns are mostly attributed to the type of tires on the 18” wheels installed on our test model . A day or so after receiving the Sportage we had a few sweeping thunderstorms roll through the DC Metro area overnight. The storms caused some serious wet road conditions and from the few experiences I had from having to go out in the rain, proved quite impressive. From the first corner taken on the wet roads in the Sportage the AWD system held tight and the suspension, even though it’s a bit stiff, still felt comfortable enough for me to make confident turns in the rain. The handling was indeed a plus as it was very responsive on both wet and dry conditions.
The Sportage EX model that we tested retailed at about $30,000 due to the various upgrades and optional features installed. In my personal opinion even though the vehicle was fully loaded it still felt as if the Sportage’s price tag was a bit weighty considering other crossover choices at that price. Overall the 2011 Kia Sportage is a solid outing for the Korean car company. I believe when looking for a new crossover SUV you would have to give the 2011 Sportage a fair shake. Even though the performance output is a bit disappointing the attractive styling, comfortable interior coupled with Kia’s outstanding 10 year 100,000 mile warranty makes this a must see for any looking to make a purchase in the near future.