2008 Kia Sportage

Here's a nice little SUV for those seeking basic transportation. It drives well enough for commuters, and the cargo area is pretty large when the seats are folded down. There's enough power to merge on the highway and pass people on country roads, and the ride quality isn't bad.

The so-called luxury package is a bit misleading. I thought this was a very basic interior, and the heated leather seats are the only things that even come close to a luxury touch. But that's not a bad thing. All controls are intuitive, and everything is very functional. I'd like a more modern radio with satellite radio and/or some kind of iPod connectivity, even if it's just an auxiliary input port. It's amazing how quickly the state of in-vehicle stereos has changed, and a basic unit like this one feels a decade old without the aforementioned options.

If you want the taller seating position and all-wheel drive that SUVs are famous for, this Kia Sportage isn't a bad choice. It's not nearly as refined as a Mercury Mariner, but not everyone wants a highly refined SUV.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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