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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
satisfyingly secure on rain-soaked pavement”
not even the V-6 has abundant passing punch
it will meet consumer expectations, but we don't believe it will exceed them
Kelley Blue Book
In the 2010 Sportage, you 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.
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. Kelley Blue Book is "not overly impressed by the responsiveness of the 2010 Kia Sportage V-6; it will meet consumer expectations, but we don't believe it will exceed them." They advise that the "four-cylinder should be reserved for light duty only—no full loads, light towing and little exposure to work at high altitudes." According to ConsumerGuide, "2010 Kia Sportage four-cylinder models are fine for light-duty commuting but lack enough power for confident highway merging and passing." They "recommend a V-6 model, though they're no fireballs."
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.
ConsumerGuide says "the automatic transmission is responsive enough with either engine, though not even the V-6 has abundant passing punch." All-wheel drive is an option. Cars.com notes that "a five-speed manual gearbox is standard in the four-cylinder Kia Sportage LX, and a four-speed automatic is available," while "all V-6 models come with the automatic.” When describing the automatic, Cars.com reports “responses are prompt, but downshifting can be sluggish when passing."
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. Off-road ability draws some mixed comments, however. While Kelley Blue Book notes a "smooth ride, improved handling," they also point out that "the trade-off is an inability to tackle the harshest sorts of off-road terrain." Jalopnik, on the other hand, describes it as "off-road-worthy fish-vertebrae underpinnings...tougher than most." "On rougher pavement, the ride is well-cushioned...suspension reactions are seldom excessive, and recovery is prompt," reports Cars.com.
The 2010 Kia Sportage feels more like an economy car on the road, from its acceleration to its handling, even with available all-wheel drive.