1999 Kia Sportage Photo
Quick Take
SANTA MONICA, Calif. - El Nino has not spread much joy on California’s beaches this past year... Read more »
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SANTA MONICA, Calif. - El Nino has not spread much joy on California’s beaches this past year, but Kia is intent on stimulating some affordable fun when the weather permits. Its Sportage mini-SUV is shorter, cheaper and more airy than the others, which makes this convertible a great answer for those trips to the beach or to picnic places. And it still provides comfortable commuting and foul-weather security.

When Kia made its entry into the United States, it concentrated on solid vehicles for suburban living, such as the four-door Sephia and Sportage commuter vehicles. Now Kia is enlarging its scope, with an airy little two-seater beach-and-fun vehicle that will be a great step forward in gaining a stronger hold on the younger set.

Kia has a real jewel in the Sportage, as it offers more interior size and sassier looks than anything else in its price segment. It's much bigger inside than Tracker and Sidekick, and it has some safety features unique to the brand.

The Sportage started to appear in showrooms on the West Coast five years ago, then expanded through the South, the Atlantic states and the Western mountain states. Now, finally, Kia is filling out the Midwest with dealers. The four-door looks like an Explorer that was left too long in the dryer, and it is sized and priced to give the Isuzu, Toyota and Suzuki models fits.

Kia cars, Ford names

Kia is a well-established name in Korea, with products ranging from industrial products to electric components. In 1993 Kia moved into the United States with an economy car named the Sephia. In 1994 the automaker developed its low-cost Sportage sport-utility vehicle. Actually, Kia has been here for quite a while, but few associated its products with its name. Ford subcontracted the Korean automaker to build first the Festiva, and then the Aspire subcompacts.

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