Super Sport SX
Those desiring more power might want to wait for the forthcoming Sportage SX. Kia replaces the 2.4 with the same turbocharged 2.0-liter, direct-injection I-4 used in the 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T. Kia hasn't released final figures, but we're told to expect about 270 hp and 269 pound-feet of torque. That's nearly an extra 100 hp and 90 lb-ft over the previous 2.7-liter V-6, and engineers expect the turbocharged motor to deliver a sizable improvement in fuel economy.
Along with the extra power, Sportage SX models will also be fitted with a set of variable rate dampers, tuned somewhat stiffer than those used on base, EX, and LX models. SX models will only be offered with the six-speed automatic transmission.
Have Your Say with UVO
Arguably, more customers will likely be interested in UVO, Kia's new infotainment system, than in turbocharged engines. Similar to Ford's renowned Sync system, UVO is co-developed with Microsoft, runs an extension of Windows Embedded software, and interfaces with several different devices. Bluetooth allows for hands-free calling and audio streaming, while a USB port allows the system to play audio files saved on flash drives or portable music devices, like an iPod or Zune. A one-gigabyte hard drive also allows users to rip their own CDs and save them to an internal jukebox.
Perhaps the most important part of UVO is its voice commands. Although this isn't a segment exclusive, the prompts required to trigger various functions are much less convoluted and easier to adapt to. Better yet, text messages sent to paired phones will be read aloud to passengers within the vehicle. The driver can then choose one of several personalized pre-programmed messages for a quick response -- all without taking their eyes off the road or hands from the wheel.
UVO will be available in the Sportage (along with the larger Sedona) in the second half of 2010. Until then, the Sportage will be fitted with either a typical AM/FM/CD with MP3 capability and a USB port or an enhanced system with a large in-dash navigation unit and a premium 5.1-channel surround sound system. Regardless of trim level, Bluetooth phone connectivity, audio streaming, and USB and auxiliary audio inputs are standard.