The Sportage has been Kia’s small SUV since it was introduced in 1995. It was a small SUV, which could be taken off road and offered a lot of practicality at a great value. The early Sportages weren’t really standouts however, but much of this was corrected after a three year hiatus to design the second generation Sportage. The second generation was bigger and more carlike with a total redesign that left it somewhat less at home off road and didn’t do much to help the styling of the vehicle.

The 2011 Sportage addresses the styling issues and have greatly improved the looks of the vehicle. The newest Sportage promises a larger vehicle, with a more refined, car like ride. Its new four cylinder engine is more powerful than the outgoing engine and a still more powerful 2.0 liter, turbocharged version of the four cylinder will be following shortly. All of this and Kia promises that the new model will have further improved fuel economy despite being larger and more powerful than its predecessor.

A wide selection of interior amenities is also promised for the 2011 model.

Body styles: Sport/utility vehicle
Engines: 2.0L I-4, 2.4L turbocharged I-4
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Models: LX, EX

The Sportage is all-new for 2011, with new styling inside and out. It sits on a longer unibody platform and is 3.5-inches longer overall. Power comes from new sources: the V-6 is gone, and in its place are two four-cylinders: a 176-horse 2.4-liter and, later, the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter that is making its way through the Kia lineup. There are plenty of cool interior features that come standard, too.

Styling is based on the Kue concept vehicle, and turns the Sportage from an SUV wannabe into a cool, modern crossover. While the old model tried to look tall, the new Sportage looks lower and meaner.

Paddle shifters are available, and standard fare includes air-conditioning, 12-volt power ports, power driver’s seat, tilt steering wheel, satellite radio, and power windows. EX models add leather accents, telescoping wheel, dual-zone climate control, and Kia’s new UVO handsfree system.

Kia has only released initial information, but from what we can tell, the new model shouldn’t suffer from the engine changes. The outgoing V-6 put out 173 horsepower. The new base four has more oomph than that (176) and moved the Sportage to 60 mph in an 8.8 seconds during recent testing. We expect the coming 2.0-liter turbo four will lower that number significantly, as it’s expected to output roughly 270 horsepower. Handling has been improved as well.

Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain airbags are standard for the Sportage. So are four-wheel ABS, stability control, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, hill start assist, tire-pressure monitoring, and downhill brake control.

NOT YET RATED

  • Cool new looks
  • Improved handling
  • More power
  • Smoother ride

  • Reduced off-road capability

New look, new attitude

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