As part of a complete model overhaul, Kia gave its Sportage small SUV a serious makeover, changing the engine, suspension, and design. CNET Car Tech took a preview drive to see how it handles.
The third generation of Kia's small SUV reflects the company's new energy with its modern design language. Kia said it is differentiating itself from other brands with technology, both in the cabin and power train.
The grille, with its up and down tabs, is an element of Kia's new design language, and will show up on all models. We like the band-style headlight casings sitting between hood and fender. Note the LED parking lights in the headlight casings, an upscale element in an inexpensive car.
The high beltline and thick rear pillar are elements becoming common in small SUVs, so Kia isn't breaking new ground here. Aggressive styling is supposed to appeal to male buyers in their 20s to early 30s.
Smoothly contoured sides are another element of Kia's new design language. The Sportage uses an independent suspension with stabilizer bars front and rear, giving it a comfortable ride and decent handling.
We like the look of the cabin, but not the feel, as hard plastics line the top of the dashboard and interior door panels. Kia used soft materials in high-touch areas, which gives the car a better look.
UVO is a new, Microsoft-powered music and phone system that will become available as an option after the Sportage hits showrooms. It includes 1GB of onboard music storage, and lets you use voice commands to choose music from MP3 players.