Since its introduction in 1995, the Sportage compact utility vehicle (CUV) has undergone numerous updates and has become one of Kia Motor Company’s mainstay models. With its fresh styling and updated features, all indications are that the 2011 model will continue the tradition.
The 2011 Sportage, which debuted to enthusiastic reviews at the 2010 Geneva auto show in March, is sleek and distinctive with its bold new turn signal clusters and longer, lower silhouette.
Inside the cabin, the Sportage carries over the clean, uncluttered design theme. The dashboard is highly functional and devoid of unnecessary distractions. Options include a panoramic sunroof, Microsoft-based UVO infotainment system, rear camera display, navigation system and many more. The UVO system is designed to compete with Ford Motor Company’s popular Sync technology.
Under the hood, the 2011 Sportage comes equipped with a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder double-overhead-cam engine that features continuously variable valve timing. The engine configuration, which the Sportage shares with the 2011 Sorento, delivers 176 bhp and has a fuel-efficiency rating of 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway. Kia said it plans to offer a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder option in the near future. The Korean automaker said the high-performance engine option will offer more power without a significant sacrifice in fuel-efficiency although it did not provide data to support the claim.
In addition to the standard rear-wheel-drive drivetrain, the Sportage will be available in both front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive versions with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
Kia has loaded the new Sportage with safety equipment including ABS brakes, electronic stability control, drive and passenger front and side, and two-row curtain airbags, hill-start assist and off-road, low-speed decent control, tire monitoring and Brake Assist which delivers optimal braking performance under emergency braking conditions.
Road and Track said the new Sportage’s ride quality was somewhat stiff under freeway driving conditions but concluded: “the Sportage is reasonably agile and fun to drive.”
The 2011 Sportage will be available in three trim levels including the Base, Lx and EX and Kia has dropped the price of its base model to $16,900 compared to the current model’s starting price of $17,690.
With its heightened emphasis on style and safety, increased options and lower base sticker price, the 2011 Sportage is expected to give the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, a run for their money.
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