Not only is the new Sportage great-looking, but it also packs an incredibly powerful punch with the features included for less than $30,000. My test car, the Sportage EX with all-wheel drive, topped out at $29,980 and was worth every penny when you consider the cost of so many extras that were included at that price point. Other cars in the same category and price point don't come close to competing with the Sportage. With a starting MSRP of $18,295, you can get in a base Sportage for not a lot of money.
I had the opportunity to drive the Sportage in Denver as well as Los Angeles. The Sportage handled well both in Colorado and in the twisty hillsides of California. It had plenty of pick up and go (otherwise referred to as acceleration) and hugged the road comfortably. Its braking felt solid, too.
I did, however, notice one overridingly negative theme in both Sportages I drove. There was an abundance of annoying squeaks and rattles inside the car. In Denver, the squeaking came from the center console and was silenced by putting pressure on it with my arm or elbow. As soon as I lifted up my arm, the squeaking started all over again. In my test car in California, I couldn't locate the source of the squeak, but it was annoying. An inability to quiet the squeaks would unfortunately be enough to keep me from buying this car, which is a sad statement since it has so many other fantastic qualities.
The Sportage has been completely redesigned for 2011 and is a fresh look representing the the new face of Kia. The first thing I noticed about the Sportage was its trendy eyelash-shaped LED headlights. This is a design feature becoming synonymous with more upscale brands such as Audi, and I happen to love them. They're fun and flirty and the perfect complement to a small crossover like the Sportage with its energetic, fluid exterior lines.
I had a couple of people ask me what kind of car I was driving and even comment on what a great-looking car it was. When someone goes out of their way to chat with me about how fabulous a car looks, I consider that a huge success.
The Sportage is a great size, as well. It's just large enough for a small family, and it has plenty of cargo space for all the stuff families need to haul. The cargo floor lifts up to reveal an extensive under-floor storage area with compartments that would make even the most organized neat freaks amongst us (me!) giddy. Despite its large, functional cargo area, the Sportage itself is compact enough to fit into tight parking garages. It can even navigate through crowded urban jungles.
The test car I drove had all-wheel drive; front-wheel drive is standard on lower trim models. It also has a 176-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and requires regular unleaded fuel. My test car came equipped with both a backup camera (a $1,500 option) and rear parking sensors in the $3,000 Premium Package, which are a great addition at this price point. With backovers becoming an alarmingly frequent occurrence, especially in families with young kids, backup cameras should be at the top of everyone's must-have list.