Kia redesigned its Sportage crossover for the 2011 model year, using its new styling language and tech. The Sportage is a five-passenger vehicle with cargo capacity; a good multipurpose car for the average suburban family.
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Kia calls out the two tabs on the grille as part of its design language. We also appreciated the smooth-looking sheet metal around the car. The headlight casings and grille form a single design element in front of the car.
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The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine's 170 horsepower does not sound strong enough to power the car, but we found it more than adequate. As the Sportage only weighs 3,355 pounds, the engine does not have to work very hard.
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With its wide D-pillar and curving roof, the Sportage cuts a fine and modern profile.
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We found the ride a little hard, but in keeping with the economy car segment. Our vehicle also came with all-wheel-drive, a new system called Dynamax that uses sensors to predetermine which wheels to power.
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The cargo area is not huge, but it's adequate for a family's weekend luggage or weekly grocery shopping. The rear seats fold down to maximize the cargo capacity.
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Hard plastics over the dashboard bolster the economy feeling of the car. Our EX trim model came with a leather seating package and optional sunroofs front and back.
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The Sportage uses an electric power-steering unit that is well-tuned for road feedback and responsiveness.
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The Sportage benefits from a six-speed automatic transmission. As these types of transmissions go, it is pretty standard. A manual mode lets drivers hold gears for hill descents.
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Buttons on the left of the dashboard activate a differential lock, which is useful if the car gets stuck in snow or mud, and descent control.
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The navigation system stores its maps in flash memory and integrates traffic information received over Sirius satellite radio. The car will offer to detour if it detects bad traffic ahead.
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This touch-screen interface is easy to use, with big, clear buttons. There is also a voice command system for entering addresses and making phone calls through the car's Bluetooth phone system.
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The Bluetooth phone system presents this graphical keypad and will also download a paired phone's contact list, making it available on the screen.
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When using the dial-by-name voice command feature, the car will ask which phone number to use for a contact.
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The iPod interface shows the usual artist, album, genre, and song browsing menu items.
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The Sirius satellite radio interface is particularly easy to use with this graphic selection wheel.
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Although the audio screen offers many adjustments, we did not find the sound system in the car to be very good.
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A subwoofer in the cargo area does not add sufficient bass to this system, which we believe is underpowered.
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A backup camera includes distance lines, adding safety when parking or reversing out of a spot.
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