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2011 Kia Sportage Priced Higher; Turbo Coming Under...$30K?

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The 2011 Kia Sportage is heading to showrooms with a pricetag of $18,995 -- a significant jump up from the last edition, and just the first step on a pricing ladder that could find the Sportage sporting a pricetag of more than $30,000.

The base price of the wedgy new crossover also is the same as that of the 2010 Hyundai Tucson, which shares much of the Sportage's running gear, but works a radically different look.

Kia says the Sportage, which rolls out on dealer lots in the coming weeks, is nearly $1600 more than its predecessor, but explains the price increase to a raft of new features--everything from stability control to a tech package including Bluetooth, a USB port and Sirius satellite radio.The base front-drive crossover comes with a six-speed manual transmission; it's expected to account for less than 5 percent of all sales. It and all versions include air conditioning and power windows, locks and mirrors. Opt up to the LX version with a standard six-speed automatic and the base price rises to $20,990, with added trim like LED daytime running lights. The EX automatic, with standard 18-inch wheels, carries a base price of $23,295.

We've been driving the Sportage today in San Francisco, and sampled the Sportage EX in front- and all-wheel drive. Fully laden, our priciest test car had a price of $29,990--a rather breathtaking number for a vehicle that's been a mainstay of the under-$20,000 crossover market.

And that might not be the priciest Sportage of all. Kia VP of marketing and communications Michael Sprague says the coming turbocharged Sportage will be priced aggressively, and says the target is to get the sporty edition under the $30,000 price barrier. With optional packages like a leather interior with heated seats, a great navigation system and a panoramic sunroof, the Sportage turbo is sure to rise above the EX's price point--a risky area for the Kia brand's longest-running nameplate, even with the promise of a class-leading turbo engine with more than 270 horsepower.

There's more to come on the Sportage, including more pics and our full review. Meanwhile, we're giving away a Microsoft Zune media player to an aspiring new car writer. Think you can write the best post about the new Sportage, about Kia, or about any car-related topic? Just sign up to write for High Gear Media and publish away. We'll choose a winner from any published post submitted by August 1.

 
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