2011 Kia Sportage SX: First Drive Page 2

April 4, 2011

2011 Kia Sportage SX

More power, acceptable fuel economy

When the 2011 Sportage launched there was one thing clearly missing, a V-6 engine option. The SX brings a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo direct injection four-cylinder engine to the table. This powertrain is rated at a very V-6 like 256-horsepower and 264 lb-ft with a nice flat torque curve due to the twin-scroll turbo. Combine this engine with the six-speed automatic transmission and the EPA says that you will see 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Add all-wheel-drive for $1,500 and you lose 1 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway ratings. We saw an average of 24.5 mpg in an all-wheel-drive model during mostly highway driving--though admittedly we had a somewhat heavy foot.

The power comes on strong due to that twin-scroll turbo, with max torque hitting you at a mere 1,850 rpm. That torque curve is flat all the way to 3,000 where the engine begins to lose steam. Above 4,000 rpm the engine just makes a lot of noise without a lot of go behind it. Though at no point in driving the Sportage SX did we miss not having a V-6 engine option.

Better but not class-leading

Overall the Sportage SX is Kia's alternative to the V-6 competition. We can't fault you for being drawn to the great looking CUV. Priced at $25,795 for a front-wheel drive SX model and $1,500 more for all-wheel drive, the Sportage SX is also quite a value. And now that the Sportage line-up has an engine option that can be compared to the competitions V-6 models, there is even more to love. But there is still the suspension tuning issue that some consumers will just not be able to over look. We'll be interested to see if the style and value continue to drive sales of this head turning CUV.

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