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Turbocharged 2013 Kia Sportage is powerful and practical (pictures)

With its small SUV form, the Sportage offers good interior space, but its turbocharged engine kicks up the power almost beyond what the car can handle.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 18 Wayne Cunningham/CNET
The third generation of the Kia Sportage came out in 2010, so the model is about three years old now. Despite some cabin tech that could use an update, the SX trim Sportage uses the latest engine technology to maximize power and efficiency.
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The Sportage SX is available in front-wheel- or all-wheel-drive versions. Both feature a descent control mode to help on slippery hills.
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A cosmetic update for the 2013 model year is included in all Sportage trims, with an LED parking strip in the headlight casing.
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The Sportage SX has a direct-injection turbocharged 2-liter engine, smaller than the 2.4-liter engine standard at other trims, yet generating 85 more horsepower and getting similar fuel economy.
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Kia tunes the Sportage's suspension to the rigid side, aiding handling but leading to a bumpy ride over rough surfaces.
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The Sportage does not include a huge amount of cargo space. With the rear seats down, it should be ample for most needs.
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Underneath the rear cargo floor, Kia includes a storage area with neatly divided sections.
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Leather seats and soft touch materials on the dashboard give the cabin an upscale feel.
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The rear seat is a typical bench.
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The Sportage uses an electric power-steering system, but Kia does an excellent job tuning it for natural response.
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The simple instrument cluster includes a display for trip data in the middle of the speedometer.
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The six-speed automatic transmission comes with a manual mode for sequentially shifting through the gears.
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The optional navigation system includes maps stored on a flash drive, here showing traffic flow information on surface streets. The maps only show in plan, or flat, view, with no perspective option.
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The touch screen allows quick input of alphanumeric data for addresses.
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Traffic data can also be viewed as a list.
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A USB port and auxiliary input sit next to each other below the dashboard. Kia includes an iOS cable with one end plugging into both USB and auxiliary inputs.
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Kia's music playback interface includes song data and a button to pause music, somewhat of a rarity in car stereo interfaces.
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The rear-view camera shows distance lines, but no trajectory or automatic obstacle recognition.

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