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To KIA, From Germany, With Love

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Sep 21, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The new Kia Sportage: Penned by the former chief designer at Audi and VW

If you think Kia’s new Sportage looks strikingly German, that’s no accident. When Kia nabbed Peter Schreyer back in 2006 to head up its design department, it was on a mission to turn its designs 180 degrees. In Schreyer, Kia had Audi's former chief designer (1994-2002) and most recently, Volkswagen’s former chief designer and head of advanced designs (2002-2005). Now that the Schreyer designs like the new Sportage are bearing fruit, “That's a Kia?” has become a virtual mantra among those that set eyes on the designs. So, yeah, the car looks great, but does it have the goods to back up its look? Contributing Editor Mark Dorman reports. By Mark Dorman The most common phrase I've heard recently in regards to this Korean automotive brand is, “That's a Kia?” Quite impressive yes, and understandably so when you know that Kia is owned by Hyundai. We have all see Hyundai step up to the plate as a major player in automotive world, and subsequently so has Kia. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical when asked to test the Kia Sportage. Sure the new car looks immeasurably better than its predecessors, but can it really compete with the likes of Toyota, Honda, or Ford?

Even the wheels look VW-Audiesque

At first glace you’ll noticed that Kia has done a great job of borrowing styling cues from the likes of Audi. The LED running lights in the xenon headlamps is a classy touch to a good-looking SUV. What I’m most interested in, however, is what the interior quality is like. A car can be great to look at, but if you don't want to be inside of it, what's the point, right? To my delight, the interior of the Sportage is quite impressive. Equipped with the premium package, I’m quite impressed with the perforated leather seats and a sea of high-end gizmos like heated/cooled driver’s seat, push start, home link, and more. Granted, these are added extras, but it's still a lot when you consider that the Sportage starts out at $18,500. On the downside, the plastics are a bit hard and the glove box rattles a little when closing—but for the price, this really is well put together. Soft touch plastics are used for the radio/navigation as well as the climate control. Everything one normally touches in this car feels solid and fairly high quality, considering the asking price. Two engines are available: A 2.4 liter four cylinder, which really does provide ample torque for getting around town and making passing sprints; and a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder, which is bit more fun (you do sacrifice a little fuel economy for the extra get up and go). Honestly, in a car like this, most people will be plenty satisfied with the base 2.4 liter engine. All-wheel drive is available in the LX and EX models, making the Sportage a little more capable for weather-challenged conditions.

No, it's not the new GTI, that's a Kia

Driving in the Sportage is quite pleasant in the front seat. The ride is supple and composed on average city roads. There is a high quality “thud” that comes from the suspension when soaking up bumps. The rear seats are quite comfortable, minus the center one (due to the lack of cushion resulting from the cupholder located on the back rest). Leg room is plentiful up front as well as in the back seats. There is a good amount of storage space in the trunk, and with fold down 40/60 split rear seats, that cargo space can be increased dramatically. Adding to all this, the new Sportage is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Kia has definitely delivered the goods here, and it’s a great choice for a family of four. For more information on Kia products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Kia Sportage Price: $18,295 (base) $20,295 (LX model) $23,295 (EX model) $25,795 (SX model with turbocharged 2.0 liter engine) EPA fuel economy rating: 22 city/31 highway (miles per gallon) Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve four-in-line with variable valve timing


Horsepower: 176 at 6,000 rpm Torque: 168 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm Transmission: 6-speed manual (standard on base model) 6-speed shiftable automatic (available) Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive available) Chassis design: Unibody Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion Suspension: MacPherson strut front suspension Multi-link rear suspension Four-wheel independent suspension Front and rear stabilizer bar Brakes: Ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes 4-wheel ABS, emergency braking assist, stability control, traction control and electronic brakeforce distribution Wheels and tires: 16-inch alloy wheels, steel spare wheel, P215/70R16 all-season tires, and temporary spare tire Dimensions Length: 174.8 in. Width: 73.0 in. Height: 64.4 in. Ground clearance: 6.8 in. Maximum cargo capacity: 54.6 cu.ft. Maximum towing capacity: 2000 lbs. Maximum payload: 1340 lbs. Curb weight: 3157 lbs.


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