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2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD (photos)

Kia's radical redesign of its crossover leads to a solid, multipurpose vehicle that, surprisingly, does not feel slow despite its four-cylinder engine. A modern exterior uses smooth sheet metal and the cabin gets useful tech.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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2 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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3 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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4 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
With its wide D-pillar and curving roof, the Sportage cuts a fine and modern profile.
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5 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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6 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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7 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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8 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Sportage uses an electric power-steering unit that is well-tuned for road feedback and responsiveness.
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9 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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10 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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11 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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12 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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13 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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14 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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15 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The iPod interface shows the usual artist, album, genre, and song browsing menu items.
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16 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Sirius satellite radio interface is particularly easy to use with this graphic selection wheel.
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17 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
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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18 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
A subwoofer in the cargo area does not add sufficient bass to this system, which we believe is underpowered.
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19 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
A backup camera includes distance lines, adding safety when parking or reversing out of a spot.

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