- Carlike dynamics
- Strong value
- Weak V-6 engine
- Old-tech four-speed automatic
- Dated styling and design
Value—not trend-setting design or class-leading performance—is the reason to keep the 2010 Kia Sportage on your list.
Kia’s compact Sportage SUV was first introduced back in 2005 and underwent a mild facelift just last year to improve its fuel economy, styling, and drivability.
With that in mind, there are no major changes to the 2010 lineup. For the latest model year, the Sportage comes in base LX or EX trim, along with optional all-wheel drive. The changes incorporated last year included body color-matching front and rear bumpers, a new grille design, new headlights and fog lights, and new alloy wheels. Overall, though, the Sportage keeps the same basic silhouette it's had for many years.
Under the hood, customers have a choice of either a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) technology and a respectable 140 horsepower on tap, or a 2.7-liter V-6 mill with 173 horses. Transmission options include a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The most fuel-efficient model is the base four-cylinder model with the five-speed manual, which returns an EPA-rated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. At the other end of the scale, the V-6 automatic model returns 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Between the two, neither engine will excite, and the extra oomph from the V-6 over the four-cylinder is hardly noticeable. Acceleration is a little bit better with the V-6, but the associated loss in fuel economy is hardly worth it. The Sportage rides on McPherson struts up front, with gas-filled shock absorbers at the rear, stabilizer bars at both ends, and 16-inch wheels and tires. Handling is secure and the ride smooth, but not inspiring.
The Sportage offers an interior that's just roomy enough for five adults, with reasonable seating comfort for all—provided those in back aren't wide-shouldered. Interior appointments are quite unremarkable; they aren't as delightful for the price as the new Forte and Soul small cars, but they're not disappointing either. The Sportage rides more like a car than a genuine SUV, but at the same time, its off-road prowess is lacking.
The 2010 Kia Sportage does quite nicely in federal government crash tests, although it doesn’t fare as well in the insurance agency tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the compact SUV with “acceptable” ratings for front and side impacts, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a little more generous, awarding the Sportage five out of five stars for front and side impact protection. Standard safety items include dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; and tire pressure monitors.
Standard features on all LX models include multi-reflector headlamps, roof rails, front and rear towing hooks, and a front-end skid plate. All 2010 Kia Sportage models also come with Sirius Satellite Radio and auxiliary and USB jacks with MP3 playback capabilities as standard. Upgrading to the EX model includes a power sunroof, fog lights, and heated side mirrors, while the Sport Package, available on LX V-6 models, includes fog lights, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, a rear spoiler, a rear cargo cover, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The warranty remains a good argument for the Sportage. It has some of the best coverage in the industry: a five-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, plus a ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.