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2011 Kia Sportage Comfort & Quality

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The compact Kia Sportage can’t compete on cubic feet with the bigger utes in its market niche, but it’s been upsized to hold more stuff and still offers the kind of adult-friendly seating that helps it mature into more than a first-time-driver special.

In front, the Sportage’s dash is formed to leave as much room as possible for driver and passenger. I didn’t have a problem finding enough knee room and didn’t have to split custody of the shoulder space with my co-driver, though at six feet tall I did rub my head against the sunroof surround on a regular basis. The front seats themselves were formed with more aforethought than in the old Sportage. One row back, there’s even less headroom to spare, so bigger adults will slouch a bit to find the sweet spot in the Sportage’s otherwise nicely angled cushions.

Fuel-economy fiddling aside, the 2011 Kia Sportage is nearly the best in class for gas mileage.

Behind the seats, Kia claims 26.1 cubic feet of storage space, which is more than in some true SUVs, like the Land Rover LR2 or Mercedes-Benz GLK. Flip the seats down and two people can haul home about 55 cubic feet of stuff—everything from camping gear to weekend junk-shop finds. It’s not a place you’d want to place pets, necessarily—as a colleague pointed out, there’s almost no head room for a larger dog with the second-row seat raised.

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