One month into our twelve-month test, we've all had a chance to get behind the wheel of our techno orange Kia Sportage EX. First impressions have been added to the logbook, and the comments are mixed. The Sportage has come in for a lot of praise, but there are also some reservations. Still, everyone agrees that the 2011 Kia Sportage is a huge improvement over the outgoing model, part of an impressive recent pattern from the Korean automaker.
Senior web editor Phil Floraday questions whether we got the best version. "Overall I think the Kia Sportage is a very pleasant crossover," he writes. "However, if I were going to spend $30,000 on one, I'd happily forego the $3000 premium package in our test car and instead spend $2500 for the turbo engine upgrade in the Sportage SX." He later has another thought: "The better idea might be to spend only $25,000 and get a base Sportage, since it comes well equipped and looks so good."
We do admit we regret not opting for the turbocharged SX, but as copy editor Rusty Blackwell put it, "Most non-leadfoots should be perfectly happy with the normally aspirated engine."
As improved as the new Sportage is, we're not enthused with the clumsy suspension, which has fallen short of our expectations. Logbook commenters have posited that a better suspension would help the Sportage really stand out in its class. "Overall it's a very comfortable vehicle, but Kia hasn't dialed in the damping on the Sportage quite as well as some of the competition has," says Floraday. Kia's history of less-than-excellent chassis tuning is shared with Hyundai.
This is just the beginning; and early impressions have a way of evolving over time. We're looking forward to eleven more months with our funky Sportage. Check back next month to see what our Sportage has been up to as summer vacation season gets under way.