The new Sportage is the latest in what seems like a continuous procession of new and redesigned vehicles from Kia. Like the Sorento and the upcoming Optima, the 2011 Sportage gets crisp new sheetmetal that is far more distinctive and handsome than that of its predecessor. Its appearance is undeniably modern and youthful. In fact, to me the 2011 Sportage looks like a plus-size Volkswagen GTI, the poster child of the hip boy-racer.
This fresh modernity continues on the inside but with mixed results. Some of the materials look and feel a little plasticky, but the body-color accents sprinkled throughout the cabin-minus the construction-cone orange door panels-are tasteful and give the mostly black interior a nice pop of color. I especially like the sporty contrast stitching and textured insert fabric on the seats. The most often touched surfaces could use additional padding, but overall the interior is comfortable and nicely laid out.
Although this Sportage is nearly $30,000 with $4000 in options, it wouldn't be hard to live with just the standard equipment on an EX AWD model. It includes Bluetooth, a USB input, LED lights, all-wheel drive, and traction and stability control all for under $26,000. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder doesn't move the nearly 3400-pound Sportage with any urgency, but it does return up to 28 mpg on the highway, although the city rating is only 21 mpg.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor