This is pretty much the fancy version of my wife's 2007 Sportage, which is a stick-shifted four-cylinder that features air-conditioning as its solitary option. Based on the performance of that Sportage, I was pretty disappointed with the oomph provided by our test car's V-6, which is obviously held back by its four-speed automatic, as Marc noted. I also agree with Phil regarding this vehicle's features: 4WD, sunroof, heated seats but with manual controls? Very weird ... Anyway, I much prefer the four-cylinder/manual version of the Sportage, because at least you can have fun revving it and enjoy the slimmer weight and better mileage. The price advantage, of course, is paramount, and like most Kia customers, that's why we bought the one we did.
In general, I really like mini-utes like this because they offer lots of cargo versatility but still yield decent mileage. Plus, there aren't many good stick-shift wagons on the market that were in our price range (and whose dealers were willing to bend over backward on our trade-in). That said, when it's time to get a new car for my wife, we certainly won't be moving up to a fancier Sportage like this one, even though we do like the base Sportage. There are simply many better options once you've moved from the base Sportage price range (about $17,000) to the almost $25K on the window of this test vehicle.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor