2011 Kia Sportage Preview

March 31, 2010
2011 Kia Sportage

2011 Kia Sportage

With a premiere at the Geneva Motor Show behind it, the 2011 Kia Sportage is headed for U.S. dealers later this year.

The Sportage bows today at the 2010 New York Auto Show, and Kia's released this photo in advance of the North American debut.

Bearing some cues from the Kia Kue concept car, the Sportage takes an entirely different styling tack than the 2010 Hyundai Tucson, which shares its compact-crossover running gear. Bigger and more substantial by far than the previous Kia entry-level ute, the new Sportage wears some crisp, angular new sheetmetal over its larger interior spaces and upgraded cabin. The face looks familiar, if you've kept pace with the barrage of new Kias issued this year--Forte, Soul and Koup. The Sportage is maybe the most flamboyant, with dramatic side fender flares and a backswept rear end. Up front it's the latest evolution of the new Kia corporate face, but with lots of detail and some strong resemblance to the 2011 Kia Optima sedan--also on display in New York.

The powertrain will be a 176-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder that Kia says gets better gas mileage and makes more power than its former 2.7-liter V-6. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is in the works, but power output is undisclosed. A six-speed manual is the standard on all Sportages; the front-driver gets options for a six-speed automatic with sport-shift controls (shared with the bigger Sorento crossover) and for all-wheel drive.The Sportage grows considerably in this edition--the length is up to nearly 175 inches, and the wheelbase checks in at 104 inches. The suspension is independent at all four corners, and Kia says ride quality is comfortable, while handling responsiveness is better in the new vehicle--as is noise and vibration control.

Dual front, side and curtain airbags will be standard, along with tire-pressure monitors, active headrests and a suite of electronic traction controls, from stability control to hill start assist to downhill brake control.

In standard specification, the Sportage LX will come with 16-inch wheels. The EX Sportage gets 18-inch wheels and more chrome trim on the door handles, grille, and on the body. It also adds roof rails and a rear spoiler.

The Sportage LX comes with power locks and mirrors; air conditioning; tilt steering; and cloth seats with a 60/40-split rear seat. The Sportage EX adds leather trim to the steering wheel and shift knob; dual-zone climate control; a colled glove box; a power driver seat; and an EcoMinder fuel-economy light.

Options on the LX will include 17-inch wheels; HD radio; navigation systems with real-time traffic; heated mirrors; power windows; heated side mirrors; a telescopic steering wheel; and the rear spoiler and roof rails of the more expensive editions. The EX's options include leather seats with heating and ventilation; push-button start; rear parking sensors; and a panoramic sunroof.

Both Sportage crossovers come with standard Sirius satellite radio and three months' service; USB audio inputs and Bluetooth connectivity; and UVO, a Microsoft-powered voice communication system like Ford's SYNC setup.

Overall, the new Sportage looks like it will be a huge leap forward as Hyundai took with the 2010 Tucson. TheCarConnection.com gives the 2010 Kia Sportage an overall score of 6.6 out of 10, praising its carlike dynamics, overall practicality, and strong overall value, including strong warranty coverage. The major gripes with the outgoing Sportage's old-tech four-speed automatic transmission, weak 173-horsepower V-6, and dated styling may be old news by the time we drive the new Sportage this summer.

We'll have more photos and info soon; for an additional sneak peek, you'll also want to check out these teaser pics of the Euro-spec version, and stay tuned for live photos from Kia's reveal this afternoon.

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