Kia's Sportage spec sheet is loaded with abbreviations: AWD, ABS, TCS, ESC, DBC, HAC, and ROPS. The latter letters stand for rollover protection system. It's just one of the numerous extras packed into the all-wheel-drive EX with navigation system, leather trim, panoramic sunroof, rear sonar and spiffy 18-inch alloy wheels.
Unlike the outgoing Sportage, this one has a unibody platform shared with its corporate cousin the Hyundai Tucson. It's powered by a raspy 2.4-liter in-line four teamed to a hurry-to-top-gear six-speed automatic.
In at least one way, the Sportage delivers sport-rigid ride quality. There's steering effort and moderate body roll. Although highly maneuverable, this Kia's motor-driven power steering says, "artificially flavored." It feels better than the two-wheel-drive Hyundai Tucson, however. With more feedback, one might enjoy this machine's quick reflexes. It held its own on frost-heaved pavement, though.
Onlookers gave this CUV rave reviews. They liked its stylish contours, dazzling accents and Audi-like LED front lighting. It certainly makes a sophisticated fashion statement--a muscular stance with bulging tail lamps.
Kia's Compact Sport-Beaut
Roll at escape speed on Chicago's toll roads, might surprise you: it keeps up with the Jones in their Jaguars. Wind noise and mechanical din, however, mask its premium audio system's output.
I eked out 23 mpg overall. EPA numbers: 21 mph city and 28 highway.
Neat tricks: a spare tire inside the rear hold, nicely fitted floor mats and a roll-out luggage cover. Thoughtful.
With a fresh Kabuki face and useful all-wheel-drive traction aided by an alphabet of mobility aids such as downhill and hill-start brake assist, Kia demonstrates that aims to hit the major players where it hurts.