By on December 31, 2010

The relationship between automotive writers and manufacturers is based on trust in the basic fairness (or pliability) of the writer, and usually it’s incumbent upon the writer to establish their  reliability before being trusted with a week-long tester. What many PR types and press fleet managers don’t seem to understand is that allowing even the snarkiest writer to actually spend time with a product actually helps create a more even-handed review than might result from a brief encounter.

Such was certainly the case with the 2011 Kia Sportage EX. My initial reaction was “boy is this thing cheap,” and had I spent only a day in the car, that would have been my major conclusion. The fact that two days earlier I had to turn in a $70,000 Jaguar XF Supercharged certainly reinforced that initial impression. And after a week with the Sportage I still think it pegs the cheepnis meter, so it’s a cheap car… but it’s an honest cheap car that delivers some real value.

The Sportage makes no pretensions of luxury, like the rental Aveo with fake wood on the dash that my mom rented while her Saturn got a new used engine. Everything on the Sportage interior is some kind of plastic in some shade of gray or silver. Some kind of hard plastic. True, at ~$28,000 it comes very well equipped (press cars, even from more modest marques, tend to come loaded with optional equipment and packages), with most of the conveniences that would satisfy just about every driver who isn’t used to luxury marques. Nav system, smart key, backup camera, leather seating surfaces, dual zone automatic climate control, power moonroof, heated and cooled front seats with forced ventilation on the driver’s side, 6 way power driver’s seat, satellite radio, USB port (I copied some music files to a thumb drive and discovered that you can look at photos with the nav screen – why you’d want to I don’t know but you can select Images from the menu).

Yet even with all those toys, Kia doesn’t try to hide the fact that they’re working the customers in the cheap seats. Well, perhaps, except for the exterior design. Everyone that saw the car commented on its good looks. Peter Schreyer’s team has done well creating an attractive styling identity for the brand and did a fine job on the Sportage. Okay, so maybe they indulged in a few pretensions. The Sportage sports (couldn’t resist it) some Audi-ish LED eyeliners that I suppose are fog lights but don’t do much to light up the road and were of no use in the scary heavy fog I experienced driving north through the Poconos. The regular headlamp units do a perfectly adequate job lighting up the road under normal circumstances.

Other than the styling, Kia’s penny pinching shows. Everything is there, just lacking in some capacity. The cheap seats those aforementioned customers will be sitting in, for example, are, well, cheap. They do have leather surfaces, at least that’s what the sticker says. I do machine embroidery in real life and work with motorcycle and car enthusiasts so I handle and sew lot of leather. If Kia says it’s leather, I’ll believe them. It’s just not very fine leather, though it is more supple than the vinyl used on the non-seating surfaces of the seats. Comfortable enough for long rides, the seats are hard rather than firm, and there isn’t much contouring in the bolsters. The inflatable lumbar support did make a long drive (1,300 miles in less than 30 hours) bearable, but only on the highest setting.

That kind of lack of refinement abounds in the Sportage. Even the sound effect for the turn signals sounds tinny and cheap. Yes the Sportage has four wheel disc brakes and big aluminum rims with black paint. The wheels, though, look cheap, dwarf the tiny brake rotors and rather than effect a Brembo-like look, the rough castings of the brake calipers reinforce the fact that everything on the Sportage has been designed to a price point. The glass moonroof works nicely but they left out the little tab that opens the sun visor below as the glass slides back. You could be driving around with a hole in your roof and not realize it for a while.

I will say that the nav/audio system controls were very good, integrating the touch screen with real buttons for instant access to features. I had to RTFM only once, to figure out how to activate Bluetooth, everything else was intuitive, and unlike some systems you don’t have to scroll through all the modes and bands just to turn on the AM radio. So the infotainment system was first rate, until you listen to it and you realize that just because a subwoofer looks good on the spec sheet doesn’t mean the system isn’t going to sound muddy. It’s nice having dual zone ACC, with great control features, it’s not so nice having it blow cool air on you when it’s 15 degrees F outside. The ACC units on the Mazdas, Honda and Jaguar that I’ve tested recently were all much less obtrusive. The Sportage made me think that Kia had a checklist of features that they wanted included, but they didn’t bother to make sure the implementation of those feature was done well. As long as the feature sheet is long seems to be the design brief. Even in Korea a C is a passing grade.

The Sportage comes with the now de rigueur nannies but between the way the DSC [stability control]  is programmed along with the aggressive traction control [TCS] and obtrusive ABS system, it makes the CUV harder to drive, at least for me. Though the Sportage was fine in most normal driving, some fairly common maneuvers seemed to confuse whatever electronic brain controls the Sportage’s dynamics. Sharp turns out of steep driveways would kick in the DSC as the rear wheels lost traction. Clipping a curb on a corner would do the same. Sometimes the Sportage would just react in a confused manner to steering and throttle inputs.

Detroit didn’t get a ton of snow in the blizzard that took down the Metrodome’s dome in Minnesota, but there was freezing rain first and a wet snowfall here followed by bitter cold so the roads as I write this are about as slippery as they can get. I found the DSC, TCS and ABS to make it harder to drive in bad conditions than easier. They may keep average appliance operators out of harms way but they can be infuriating to folks who can drive.

I’ve been driving in Michigan winters for over four decades. Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, AWD and 4WD (this was the FWD version of the Sportage, which also is available in AWD spec), I’ve driven them all and haven’t gotten stuck even a half dozen times. I’ve kinda liked FWD in the snow since first driving my brother’s original Mini but with the exception of F-body GM products and empty pickup trucks, I’d feel safe in just about any layout in winter. I also prefer to use smooth, light, control inputs, including a gentle braking foot. In today’s severe snow and ice, the ABS was kicking in almost instantaneously, creating skids where manual (pedual?) control on braking wouldn’t have caused skids. Also in bad traction the DSC and TCS were making it harder to drive, not easier. In addition to taking control of the brakes, the stability  system overrides the ECU. I’m trying to power my way through the crud out there and the damn DSC and TCS are conspiring against me,  killing the engine just because of some wheel slip.

The suspension is harsh, rather than just stiff, though it mellows out on Interstate asphalt. Concrete surfaces are a different thing, with the Sportage being darty on the freeway, needing constant corrections from steering that is possibly the least-road-feel-imparting steering in automobiledom. I’d call it speed-insensitive steering. Kia calls it “motor” assisted so I assume it’s EPS. When I say that the steering is numb, I mean that, like it’s been shot with Novocaine, at all speeds, in all conditions. As good as the Mazda 3 steering feels, the Sportage is the polar opposite.

There is not a single soft surface that a human being can touch in the Sportage. Hard plastics don’t just abound, they proliferate. Even the fabric headliner has a coarse feel to it. I thought that acrid off-gassing smells in Kias were an internet legend, until I noticed some funny smells myself. There’s a very clever niche for a drink bottle molded into the storage bin on the door panel. There’s also a pictogram molded into the hard, gray plastic of the panel warning people to not put their Slurpees and other non-bottled drinks in there. Real classy.

Still, for all of the Sportage’s cheapness, the people who choose to buy one will not have buyer’s remorse. I say that not to demean anyone, I’m not exactly rich myself, but it’s no secret that Kia’s business model is appealing to the budget conscious. If “Imported From Detroit” is self-aware and self-destructive, doesn’t “The Power To Surprise” translate to “Not as cheap as you think”?

The Sportage may be cheap but it seemed to be screwed together well. Fit and finish was fine, metal surface quality, like on all Korean cars, is world class. Nobody will be embarrassed by the Sportage’s looks.  Everything worked, all week long, even if somethings didn’t work outstandingly.  By the time I turned the Sportage back in there were over 5,000 miles on the odometer. With the caveat that this is a pampered press fleet vehicle, there were no rattles or buzzes and nothing to indicate that you wouldn’t get 100,000 or more miles out of the car.

Though I was left with grudging respect for the new Sportage, it’s not a driver’s car by any means, nor was it intended to be. It was intended to be an inexpensive family sized crossover. Frankly the similarly priced Mazda 3 Grand Touring that I tested not long ago was a much more pleasurable drive and had a level of refinement that the Kia just can’t touch. The Sportage, though, is a much larger vehicle. While a family might be able to use the Mazda 3 as a daily driver, camping trips in it would be a bit of a squeeze.  The Sportage dwarfed a Kia Soul that I passed on the highway (driven by a young black lady, not a hamster). The front seats are wide enough for my big tuchas, the back seat will fit adults so the kiddies won’t complain and there’s a nice CUV sized storage area with a large back hatch.

If space, features, good looks, and above all, price are what you’re looking for in a small CUV, the 2011 Sportage is probably on your short list already. It’s a new car with all the modern bells and whistles, and it comes with a long warranty. According to TrueDelta A fully equipped Sportage is about $1,000 less than a fully equipped Honda CR-V. It also comes with about $2,ooo worth of equipment that you can’t get on the CR-V. You can spec a Chevy Equinox with comparable options to the Sportage and, again, the difference is about $3,000.  For many consumers, that savings of 10% or so is very important. For others, it may be worth it to pay a little more and get a more refined car.

Kia Motors provided the vehicle for this review, along with insurance and one tank of gas.


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84 Comments on “Review: 2011 Kia Sportage EX...”


  • avatar
    dolo54

    I drove an older model Sportage as rental and it was garbage through and through. We had the windows down the whole time in the dead of winter because the plastic stink was giving us migraines. The handling was as described, I felt like  the thing would tip over on the slightest curve at speed. The computer ‘assist’ problems you mentioned reminded me of an ex’s old Elantra. The ABS would kick in on a downhill gravel drive and completely prevent you from braking. I almost ran into somebody because the brakes wouldn’t work, had to veer off to the side of the drive. Like you said, Kia/Hyundai can check a lot of boxes, but often the implementation is so poor you wish they hadn’t. I’ve heard good things about newer Hyundais, but your description of the new Sportage sounds just like the old one.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinx

      $28,000 is a ‘cheap’ car?  It sounds like a $15,000 car with a bunch of expensive options that detract from the value proposition.
       
      I wonder what the price-point would be for a sturdy, no-frills, exposed-painted-metal-panels-on-door, hose-out-the-interior kind of car.  Sadly you have to go to the third-world to find sensible transportation like that these days.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The new Kia models are night and day from the old Kia models.

      The new Optima, esp, in SX trim, has been getting rave reviews – and considered more of a fun driver than the well-regarded Sonata.

      The Sorento in SX trim has also gotten good reviews for being a fun driver (for a CUV), as well as the Forte Koup SX and the new Forte 5 door.

      Having said that, the Sportage has probably gotten the least enthusiastic reviews - mainly due to its steering feel (not as well done as on the Optima or Koup), but the SX trim of the Sportage should be better/more fun.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      @Thinx:  “I wonder what the price-point would be for a sturdy, no-frills, exposed-painted-metal-panels-on-door, hose-out-the-interior kind of car.  Sadly you have to go to the third-world to find sensible transportation like that these days.”

      I’m with you on that but I think the Ford Transit Connect may be the answer.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    I feel pretty superior — smug, even — that I don’t have to shop for a car based on the length of the spec sheet and saving 10% on the bottom line. As long as there are 1-2 year-old used Japanese cars available, I will never have to buy Korean (or Euro or domestic) and will always come out ahead in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      That 10% matters to people who don’t want to throw money away on a Japanese car with less warranty than a Kia.
       
      Even my 1-yr-old Sedona (see below) came with ‘only’ a 5/60 warranty once it became a used car.  But I saved $6k off new, so it was worth it to me.  A used Japanese car has already consumed most of its warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Ah, yes, I forgot to include that coveted extra-long warranty! How can you go wrong….?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Ah, yes, I forgot to include that coveted extra-long warranty! How can you go wrong….?
       
      You tell me.  Toyota, Honda, and Nissan aren’t willing to offer a 10/100.  My only Honda (new 2005) was a lemon, and the dealer experience was a nightmare.  If it had been out of warranty, I would have been out of luck.
       
      Hyundai/Kia is drawing many buyers away from T, H, and N via their better warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      @gslippy
       
      The Hyundai/Kia warranty does not cover major components and is generally not as in depth as Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM, etc…

      That extra 10% for established Japanese makes is earned over decades of quality for those nameplates (and in most cases worth the cost)

      Hyundai/Kia has NO reputation for long term quality so have to offer lower prices, and a marketing gimmick (10 Year warranty) to catch consumers.

      And as you know, ALL makes have lemons.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @rockit:
       
      I’d like to know what major items are not covered by a Kia warranty that are covered by some other make.  My reading of it shows it to be very comprehensive, unless Toyota and Honda cover wear items and curb damage.
       
      Unlike Chrysler’s 7/70 warranty which nearly killed the company – and was later retracted – the H/K warranty has been in force for a long time.  The only ‘gimmick’ part I can see is how the warranty is reduced for resold cars.  Kia knows that most people aren’t keeping cars for 10 years, so the actual exposure to their business is limited.
       
      I do not mean to overlay my Honda experience on the entire brand; I know I got one of the few baddies.  Unfortunately, that’s how many people form their perceptions.
       
      I’d also argue that the 10% MSRP difference between a Japanese car and its Korean counterpart has more to do with labor rates and exchange rates than with the Japanese charging a premium for quality.  If that were so, you’d expect real trouble for Kia, offering longer warranties with less quality, and less revenue to fix their low quality products.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      @rockit,
       
      Get your facts straight.  Nobody said Hyundai’s 10-year warranty is comprehensive… it is powertrain.  Hyundai’s 5-year warranty, however, is comprehensive and (at least here in Canada) vastly superior to the 5-year coverage offered by Honda and Toyota.
       
      Just because you keep repeating it over and over again does not make it true.

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      I’ll never buy another new car without 10/100 warranty again.
      My Honda Element needed a new manual tranny at 88k to the tune of $3500, not to mention various other issues like rocking drivers seat that recurs every 20k that warranty won’t cover.
      This particular review reads like some luxury car driving snob wrote it; perhaps he should compare with comparable CRV, OUtlander etc and see how all of them have plastic interior.

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      @don1967

      My facts are straight.

      Many people do think its comprehensive but this is not the argument.  I live in Canada too and am aware of the 5 year warranty, thanks though. (no one asked about it, and its not relevant to what we are talking about) And lets not say “vastly superior”, that’s laying it on somewhat thick…

      Actually I am right on most of the time, I’m not a fanboy and don’t have to justify to others what I buy, you should listen to that advice.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Yeah, cuz you couldn’t get the same type of savings by buying a 1-2 yr old Hyundai or Kia.

      Geeze, not the same ol’ spiel.

      Hyundai’s warranty is just as comprehensive as the Japanese makes and according to JD Power, Hyundai has HIGHER customer satisfaction for warranty work/repairs than Toyota, Honda or Nissan.

      As for long term reliability, Hyundai has been ahead of Nissan in both the JD Power and Consumer Reports rankings for the better part of a decade and ahead of other Japanese makes like Mazda and Mitsu for even longer.

      Also, AutoBild of Germany, which does the most comprehensive analysis of reliability in the industry, has Hyundai ranked…    no. 1 for reliability.

      I’d take the data shown by JD Power, CR and AutoBild as being more credible.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    You can get a Sportage LX AT AWD for $22.5k MSRP – without all those expensive worthless accessories – and feel a lot better about the car’s value.  What you test drove was an $18.3k car loaded up with $10k of accessories.  Personally, I find no use for leather, sunroofs (too tall for them anyway) or built-in nav systems (isn’t this what a $200 Garmin is for?).  And 18″ aluminum wheels are bound to be rough-riding, expensive to tire, and look nasty after a few Salt Belt winters.  Plastic wheel covers look good for years, or else you can get steelies with snow treads for winter.  You might find the 16″ wheels and tires to be much more well-mannered.
     
    Even my 09 Sedona LX was only ~$23k new (I got it 1-yr used).  I wouldn’t call it ‘cheap’ inside, but it has all the same basic function as the loaded ones.  It also doesn’t suffer from the ECU nanny issues you mentioned.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I’m surprised you chose this car to nitpick on the semantics of “leather seating surfaces” versus “leather trimmed interior” versus “leather appointed” versus “leather seats.”
     
    I don’t know of a car under $50K MSRP that will use real leather materials for all of the side bolsters, thigh, butt, lumbar, back, shoulder, headrest, seat-side, seat-back, and map-pocket.  It’s unnecessarily expensive, and the average buyer isn’t going to appreciate the extra cost necessary to provide that premium seat-set.
     
    So what you get is usually just a “real” leather small strip someplace and the automaker goes about its business charging you a premium for “leather.”
     
    Most buyers in the long-run dislike real leather versus high quality vinyls since real leather tends to suffer from cracking and maintenance issues. Much of the typical “leather trimmed” seat is fake leather, and buyers are usually fine with this until they discover their “leather” seat is mostly fake stuff.

    Ignorance is bliss since the fake stuff actually has the characteristics/feel that customers desire for hundreds less. The scarce real leather parts are treated/coated to the point that it feels like the fake stuff.
     
    You can take the “mostly fake” seats and the “all real” seats of the same color into identical bucks to ask people which seats they prefer. People can’t tell the initial difference in terms of comfort, softness, etc.

    Seats from automakers where 100% of the seating area is actual leather (this is very rare) are coated to the point that normal leather treatments can’t even penetrate down into the cow-part of the material. A decade later owners will have to start caring for this leather – but by then they’ve already upgraded their premium whip.
     
    The only “cheap” cars I know that have a large portion of their seats containing leather utilize crushed suede that doesn’t require large sections of blemish-free leather. And of course even then you’ll probably end up with “Ultrasuede” rather than cow-based real suede.
     

    • 0 avatar

      Spot on. I’ve been having a harder and harder time figuring out how much of a car’s “leather upholstery” is actually leather, but for cars under $50,000 it’s the top and front surfaces of the seats, at most. And sometimes only the front seats.
      I’d love to have this information specified for each car model, but no manufacturer provides this information.
      Any idea how to get it?

    • 0 avatar
      holydonut

      Even the major OEMs need to pay outside companies to do tear-downs and part analysis in order to see which pieces are real or fake.  That way all the car makers know how much vinyl to put on and save more $ when assembling the seats to stay on par with the competitive set.
       
      My favorite “leather trim” seat had about a 2 inch by 6 inch crescent of real leather along one of the side bolsters.  Of course this didn’t matter to carbuyers.  The feedback of the seats and perceived seat quality of that seat tested well versus other seats using more real leather.  Plus JD Power IQS showed very little incident of people complaining about this seat versus seats using more leather (no micro-cracks, odor complaints, staining, etc).
       
      The brand associated with the seat also makes a huge difference.  I remember an A/B test showing how a luxo-seat set transplanted to different vehicle seat rails tested way better (comfort, support, feel, etc) when those seats were in a BMW versus a Chevy.  The finding seemed to indicate that the rest of the ergo in the BMW helped a driver feel “better” and thus perceived the seat to be more comfortable (synergy!).  I think the truth is simply that people are brand whores and superficial.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    The $1000 more you will spend to get a Honda CR-V will be the best money you will ever spend. What most people don’t understand on the Koreamobiles is that they will get hammered on the back end. (as in trade in value) It may be slightly cheaper up front to get this, but it is a decision you will regret “in the end”.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      That presupposes that resale/trade in value is a high priority for the buyer. For people who buy vehicles intending to be the sole owner, it’s utterly irrelevant. The last time anybody in my family traded in a used vehicle was 1969.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @ Steve65

      There are exceptions to any scenario. The fact remains however, that the Honda CR-V is simply a better vehicle than the Kia. I have examined both in great detail, and I can make this statement without hesitation. Do you really want to hand down a POS vehicle, when for just a little more money you could have a vehicle you actually enjoyed driving the whole time? There is a term called VALUE that many people just don’t seem to understand. They would be much better served buying a slightly used quality vehicle, than a new POS. I see them in a town several miles from where I live all the time. They have a brand new Kia parked outside the doublewide, and took out a 72 month loan to get it. Talk about priorities.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Value means different things to different people.  Some people (particularly people who see cars as mere appliances) value a new car that has not been abused by a previous owner, full unencumbered warranty coverage, dealer financing, and a simple trade in process.  Kia offers that.
       
      After seeing the turn in process on my wife’s leased VW (all cosmetic inspection, but nothing mechanical – they had no idea if I had changed the oil in the last 4 years, nor did they care) I am a lot more gun shy about used cars.  Buying a new “cheaper” car alleviates some of that anxiety.
       
      Don’t assume that what you value is the same thing that other people value, be it cars or anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      BMWfan.  I agree, so many people are concerned with the purchase cost that they never think of what they’ll lose come time to sell.  Steve65′s family is unusual as i know very few people that drive their cars til there’s no more useful life in them.  Although with @$2,000 worth of equipment not available on the CR-V, the difference is more like $3,000.  But i still wouldn’t buy the Kia.  Luckily i’m in a position where 10% price difference isn’t enough to sway me to the cheaper car.

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      That was true until a few years ago. Few more years and that gap may even disappear as more drivers realize that Honda and Toyota are not what they used to be, and Korean cars are much better than they used to be.
      I drive a Honda now, but I’ll definitely look hard at H/K’s offerings next time.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      First off, the resale values on Hyundais and Kias have been skyrocketing.

      2nd, it’s better to get the saving up front (at the time of purchase) than 4-6 years down the road (resale value is largely predicated on average discount from MSRP).

      3rd, for people who hold onto their vehicles longterm (8-10 years), it’s even more advantageous to get the savings up front.

  • avatar

    I drove a Sportage a few months ago, but have yet to write it up. Even among the Korean options the Tucson is the way to go. The Sportage isn’t as attractive and rearward visibility is awful. Steering is as numb as Ronnie says in either.
    Based on responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey the 2010 Tucson is about average so far. I’d expect the Sportage to be similar.
    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    By no means am I a Kia/Hyundai apologist, but this review seems off.  If you edit out all the nit-picky (almost ridiculously nit-picky) concerns of the writer, the review comes off as fairly “glowing” in nature.  Maybe the wrong writer was assigned to this task?  Anyway, like others have mentioned, this vehicle is not going out the door at $28K;  Kia will be selling most (if not all) w/a a lesser options package at ~$22K…and that’s the model that should be reviewed.
     
    Side note:  The reviews around here are becoming more haphazard in quality.  Really hit & miss, sort of like the goofy fair one might find in the Saturday “auto section” of one’s local newspaper.  Again, why assign (or conversely, allow one to submit) the review of a cheapo vehicle when their heart is obviously in something else (say an Jaguar XF Supercharged, which will be sold in quantities only slightly larger than the bunch of bananas I just picked up this morning)?  Apples-to-apples, oranges-to-oranges please!  And that doesn’t just apply to comparable vehicles…please, have reviewers that actually buy vehicles in that segment review said vehicle(s).  Is there no one at TTAC w/an Escape or RAV4 or Rogue or Forrester that could have given us a real critique and relevant comparison of this vehicle?  Again, this was what I expect from the local-yocal auto section shills…

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      In boston, a base model of the Sorento vehicle is 17K on any Saturday.  And, I think the Sorento is a larger vehicle. Open the boston globe and get out your check book.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      This article is perfect for all the people cross-shopping the Sportage with the Mazda 3.
      Agreed that a little editing (2,ooo? and how is a “price point” different from a price? Isn’t every price at the point it’s at?) and a more appropriate perspective would have made a decent article a winner.

    • 0 avatar

      Again, why assign (or conversely, allow one to submit) the review of a cheapo vehicle when their heart is obviously in something else (say an Jaguar XF Supercharged, which will be sold in quantities only slightly larger than the bunch of bananas I just picked up this morning)?
      Sorry to disappoint you. I have very little control over what vehicles the car companies and their fleet management contractors make available to me. Both the Jaguar and the Kia were not planned.
      Regarding the Jaguar, I was trying to get TTAC on Jaguar’s press fleet list, hoping to test a new XJ (I owned an old one a few years back). But the XJ wasn’t available just then, I didn’t think they’d give me a XF because TTAC reviewed the XF only last summer and Jaguar only gives each press outlet one version of each model per year. I asked about an XK. Then, out of the blue, they offered me the XF Supercharged. My first reaction was that since I don’t typically drive $70K cars that perhaps Michael Karesh or another of the writers was better suited, but Ed said I should go for it.
      The Sportage became available while I was testing the Jaguar just by happenstance.
      As for where my heart is, I don’t think there are many people who write about cars that wouldn’t rather be driving a 470HP luxury sports sedan than a family crossover. If you note, I compared the Sportage’s level of refinement not with the Jaguar, which would be silly (though a Kia-Jaguar comparo would be fun to write), but with a Mazda3 that’s actually cheaper than the Sportage (though clearly not direct competitors, I was mostly comparing refinement).
      You say that if you remove the nit-picky criticisms, it’s a glowing review. With both criticisms and some praise, I’d say it was balanced and I tried to be fair.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Ronnie Schreiber:
       
      A Kia-Jaguar comparo would be fun.  Both depreciate like crazy, but my guess is that after a decade the Kia would be more fun to own in terms of repair expenses.  However, Jags never lose their cool factor, and the XF has a timeless and seductive beauty.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      I disagree. How is saying that a manufacturers ABS and stability control affecting the vehicles driveability being “nit-picky”? I come to this site exactly because I will get the real scoop. If you want to get reviews that are influenced by advertising dollars, you need to frequent caranddriver.com or other sites that are shills for the manufacturers, and depend in their advertising dollars for survival. I have read reviews here, and then looked at the cars in question, and found most of the writers criticisms to be valid. No one is perfect, but the majority of the writers here are the real deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy Hagar

      The value of a review is the fair comparison of a product versus its contemporaries.  As I stated earlier, it seems as though more and more of these critiques are by people who are neither interested in the vehicle for purchase, do not own a contemporary of the vehicle in question or are not in the target demographic for the vehicle.  If I want to read across-the-board editorials about cars, I’ll subscribe to the glossy toilet paper (C&D, other ilk) that TTAC initially set out to differentiate itself from.  Unfortunately, IMO, the reviews here have become capricious in quality and purpose;  I don’t get any sense, w/the exception of a few writers, that the people critiquing the vehicles have any more validity in their analysis than the generic reviews I can find on Edmonds, KBB or elsewhere.  At least those reviews are done by people looking to purchase in that segment;  I doubt, from his demeanor, that the author of this review is ever going to be in the market for a Kia.  So why waste our time reading it?
       
      Again, I’m not Kia fanboy.  But it would be a nice change to have reviews by writer-drivers who might actually buy the vehicle or a competing product.  Unfortunately, like “Road & Track” or “MotorWeek,” TTAC falls into the trap of using “professional automotive journalists.”  And what’s the job of a PAJ?  It’s to earn a paycheck, no?  All else is secondary…including objectivity.

    • 0 avatar

      Sammy,
      You make a valid point. I’m well aware of the fact that if I haven’t driven a directly competing vehicle that I have no reference point. However, a car is still a car and my impressions of the car are still my impressions of the car. Who says that a review is only valid if you compare it to other cars?  Why can’t a car just be evaluated on its own? With the exception of Ed, we’re all part-timers here at TTAC. If we only carried reviews written by people who owned competitive products, we wouldn’t have many reviews at all. Also, we’re at the mercy of the folks who manage the press fleets (or the dealers willing to cooperate in exchange for a plug). I don’t have the kind of juice that I can just call up STI or ESI and order a CR-V or an Escape for comparison.
      I just try to do my best and write a review that is pretty much how I’d describe the car to a friend who asked about it.
      As I said earlier, Scott Burgess of the Detroit News had pretty much the same impression of the new Sportage as I did.
       
      BTW, as a writer it’s interesting how the same piece will be considered by some to be less than worthless and by others to be the reason why they visit this site.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      “…more and more of these critiques are by people who are neither interested in the vehicle for purchase, do not own a contemporary of the vehicle in question or are not in the target demographic for the vehicle.”
      Sammy, I disagree. A good reviewer should be able to discuss any vehicle fairly and objectively regardless of his personal tastes. Despite my nitpicks with Ronnie he was reasonably fair and he at least disclosed his biases.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Ronnie,
      This is a solid review.  Thank you.  Some days its hard to tell the difference between the B&B and a peanut gallery.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I think Ronnie did a pretty good job on this review, I wouldn’t call it nit-picky. But Sammy H has a point, it is helpful to see a vehicle compared head-to-head with the competition. Those are about the only articles I bother reading in the print rags anymore.

      As an aside, TTAC should go ahead and award Ronnie the 2011 Team Player of the Year Award for almost passing up up a shot at a $70,000 Jaguar. There may 364 days to go, but I doubt anyone will top that.

    • 0 avatar
      tallnikita

      Ronnie, you gave it like you saw it – thank you.  For those willing to read “real comparisons” should check out Car & Driver.
      e.g. “For 2011, the Sportage goes from being one of Kia’s homeliest models to one of the most attractive SUVs on the market.”
      Ha!

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Again, this was what I expect from the local-yocal auto section shills…
       
      You must have some good local yokels.  I wish our local yokels could properly criticize vehicles the way Ronnie does.  They aren’t willing to say anything negative about any vehicle.
       
      I didn’t interpret this review as being ‘glowing’ at all, nor did I perceive the criticisms to be ‘nit-picky’.  It seemed like an honest perspective from someone who knows cars, and the sort of things that bothered him are ones that would certainly bother me too.
       
      I also don’t understand all the C&D bashing, especially those equating it to Motor Trend.  Sure, they have a lot of fluff pieces that basically just introduce cars for the manufacturers, but I think they do a great job at pointing out vehicle shortcomings in their only real reviews: the comparison tests.

  • avatar
    jj99

    While I have never driven a Hyundai or Kia, they are the hot car on the east coast.  I know a few people that own them, and I only hear good comments, so this review runs against that.

    In my opinion, Consumer Report rates Hyundai and Kia reliability in the same range as Ford reliability.  So, Detroit should be worried.  Why buy a Ford when you can get a Hyundai or Kia with the same reliability for much less money.

    I know some Ford supporter is going to tell me how Ford is a more premium offering.  I guess Ford marketing wants me to come to this conclusion because Ford screwed a smart cell phone in the dash and named it Sync or MyFord or whatever the latest party line is.

    Ford, GM, and Chrysler, the uprising of Hyundai and Kia should have you really really worried because Consumer Reports shows Ford in 10th place, and every other Detroit brand worse,

    Toyota and Honda, you have a little room now, because your quality is really world class, but watch out.  It will not be long before Hyundai passes the Detroit 3 quality and starts gunning for you. 

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      gee…. Are you still ranting on the same things?
       
      Hyundai is not a proven brand, so that cannot expect to ask the same money as more established rivals.
       
      It takes years or decades to firmly establish quality, something Hyundai has not proven.  Your constant CR  mentions (In your opinion??, sorry but your opinion doesn’t mean much)  prove short term quality and nothing much really.
       
       

    • 0 avatar

      While I have never driven a Hyundai or Kia, they are the hot car on the east coast.  I know a few people that own them, and I only hear good comments, so this review runs against that.
      Actually, this review says exactly that, that people who buy the Sportage will be happy with it.
      In my opinion, Consumer Report rates Hyundai and Kia reliability in the same range as Ford reliability.
      What does that mean? Either CR rates Hyundai and Kia reliability equal to Ford or they don’t. What does your opinion have to do with it?
      So, Detroit should be worried.  Why buy a Ford when you can get a Hyundai or Kia with the same reliability for much less money.
      Of course Detroit should be worried. Even more, the folks in Toyota City should be paying attention to the Koreans.
      As to why one would buy Ford, or Honda, or whatever, over this particular Kia, it would probably have to do with refinement.
      I know some Ford supporter is going to tell me how Ford is a more premium offering.  I guess Ford marketing wants me to come to this conclusion because Ford screwed a smart cell phone in the dash and named it Sync or MyFord or whatever the latest party line is.
      When I asked Alan Mullaly to compare the technology level at Boeing to that at Ford, Mullaly (who headed the team that designed aviation’s first all digital flight deck) told me that at Boeing they were taking a large amount of information and trying to present it to the pilot in an easily digested form so as to make the pilot’s job easier and safer. Then he made a pitch about MyFord Touch. I also have spoken to some of the engineers working on the system and my feeling is that they genuinely believe they are on to something that makes driving better. I think that’s one reason why Ford reacted so strongly to Ray LaHood’s nonsense about gizmos in the car making for distracted driving, they’re as much true believers in MyFord Touch as they think it’s a great sales gimmick. If anything, the mindset at Ford, driven by Mullaly, it seems to me, is to use the power of computers to make driving easier and more pleasurable.
      You may think it’s bovine excrement, I get the feeling they’re serious about it.
      Ford, GM, and Chrysler, the uprising of Hyundai and Kia should have you really really worried because Consumer Reports shows Ford in 10th place, and every other Detroit brand worse,
      C’mon, be a little original. So far all you’ve been doing are jj99′s greatest hits. Say something original for a change, dude.

      Toyota and Honda, you have a little room now, because your quality is really world class, but watch out.  It will not be long before Hyundai passes the Detroit 3 quality and starts gunning for you.
      Actually, most folks who know about cars have figured out long ago that Hyundai’s eye is on Toyota, not the US automakers.
      BTW, what’s your daily driver?

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      My wife and I bought our first Hyundai almost 2 years ago, a used 2008 Hyundai Tucson 4×4 2.7 V6 from Car Max to replace our 2005 RAV4 that was in a bad wreck.  Based on performance, mileage, refinement, and overall “feel”, the RAV4 was the better quality vehicle.  However, based on the price point, features, and warranty, the Hyundai seems to be the better value.  And yes, we got the “used” 5/60 warranty which we have never had to use yet, knock on wood.  We did get a check engine light this past summer because my wife didn’t tighten the gas cap all the way after getting fuel, but that was her fault, not the Tucson’s.  The dealership was nice enough to clear the light for free – this time anyway.  Yes, the Tucson is a Walmart appliance, but it works, and with almost 30k miles seems to be holding together fairly well.  The only pretentious “oh puhleeze” thing about the ’08 Tucson 2.7 V6 is the fake dual exhaust.  It’s a single exhaust all the way back to the large muffler and then splits into two chrome tipped tail pipes.  For my family, the warranty alone gives us peace of mind.  Heck, when it’s time, we’ll probably give Hyundai first dibs for our next new/used vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      gee…. Are you still ranting on the same things?

      Hyundai is not a proven brand
       
      So the pot said to the kettle.

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      @don1967
       
      Listen to your own advice buddy,

      Hyundai isn’t a proven brand, so they can’t expect the same money, and must offer a longer warranty in some cases to compensate.  Not hard stuff here.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Hmmm – rockit says Hyundai isn’t a “proven brand” based on who knows what?  (Really, who’s the one just offering his opinion – at least jj99 is basing his opinion off of Consumer Reports.)

      Otoh, JD Power, Consumer Reports and AutoBild say otherwise.

      Gee, I wonder who has more credibility?

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @Ronnie

      I liked your comments, but must make one quibble. I’d say it’s equine excrement. That is all. Otherwise I thought the review was pretty good.

      There will always be somebody to complain about something. This I have learned in my short 22 years on this big blue marble.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      The top end price of the Honda crv is $1000.00 less than this car.  It’s very handsome in a more traditional way.  what’s the point.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Who says Hyundai isn’t proven yet? They’ve been selling cars in the USA for 20 years now. They’ve proven they are much better than they used to be. Maybe not up to Honda or Toyota quality yet (my opinion and I daily drive a 211K mile 11 year old CR-V in very good condition).
      They are proven. They’ve proven they are getting better every year.
      .
      $28K? That’s a higher MSRP than almost every CR-V I looked at yesterday and I’d certainly buy another ‘V again over a Sportage. It’s also more expensive than every Jetta TDI wagon that I looked at yesterday and I’d much rather have one of those too.

      I don’t think $28K is going to attract alot of buyers to what is likely to be an entry level model in most people’s minds. Especially with most folks (that I know) equating size and value. It’s not “big enough” to be worth $28K to those people.

  • avatar
    jj99

    Question:  Why is the 2011 Ford Edge, which is based on a 2001 Mazda 6 chassis design, priced many thousands more than the Kia Sorento? 

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy Hagar

      Probably because the average Edge buyer is also a member of Oprah’s book club…

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      This was covered in the Fusion post yesterday, which you seemed to have some trouble understanding what was being said. The Edge and Fusion feature a very heavily modified Mazda 6 chassis which has gone through a major revision since being released.
       
       

    • 0 avatar

      Question:  Why is the 2011 Ford Edge, which is based on a 2001 Mazda 6 chassis design, priced many thousands more than the Kia Sorento?

      I’ll say this as respectfully as I can. Either you’re ignorant about what a platform is, or you are deliberately misusing the word “chassis” to imply that the 6, Fusion and Flex are badge engineered siblings. The Mazda6, Ford Fusion and Ford Flex do  not use the same chassis. They have no interchangeable parts, either suspension or unit-body panels. What they do share are fairly expensive to change hard points where things like suspension components are attached. It’s more geometry than shared components.
      While I suppose one could argue that in 10 years, they’ve learned more about laying out that geometry for better torsional stiffness and better crash performance, but I suspect that the design of the unibody in between those hard points has more to do with stiffness and safety than anything else.
      Why don’t you define your terms? What is a platform? What is a chassis? What’s the difference between a Toyota and a Lexus?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Not to derail things too much, but the Flex is a different platform entirely than the Fusion/Edge.  The Flex is a D4 based vehicle, which, like the Lincoln MKT and 2011 Explorer, are all evolutions of a platform that was originally developed by Ford for Volvo.  The Fusion and Edge are both CD3 or CD3-2 vehicles, which were developed for Ford by Mazda.

  • avatar
    SV

    @jj99:
     
    This review is of a Kia, not a Ford. I don’t think Ford was even mentioned once in the article. So why do you keep bringing them up?
     
    I seem to recall you own a Ford that needed some repairs out of warranty. If that’s the ONLY reason you’re posting nonsensical anti-Ford crap on car blogs, then that’s pretty sad. If my Mazda’s transmission crapped out and I had to pay a few grand to fix it, would it make me hesitant to buy Mazdas in the future? Sure. Would it motivate me to go on a full-on crusade to trash talk the entire brand to a bunch of strangers on the internet? Hardly.
     
    It sucks your Ford had problems but honestly, GET OVER IT. Never buy a Ford again for all any of us cares. But spewing your “Consumer Reports says” and “Motor Trend says” and “in Boston it’s like this” garbage arguments concerning why Ford is inferior is neither impressing nor persuading anyone.

    Back on topic…interesting review. I think the Sportage looks fantastic, so it’s unfortunate to hear that it’s apparently so obviously built to a price. The rough ride and poor steering alone are deal-killers for me, but I look forward to checking it out at the auto show next month regardless.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    If you drive one thru a shallow lake and back onto dry land, does that constitute a Portage?
    And if you drive one in deep snow and put chains on it, would it be more appropriate to call it the Kia Bondage?
    Just whatinhell is a Sportage anyway?
    About the actual vehicle, I have no opinion.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I do not recall Kia claiming this is a lux-vehicle.  Kia is going for value – a lot of car for the money.  I bought a Kia Sportage EX about 3 months ago IIRC – 5000+ miles ago.  I like mine, and I am a buyer from the cheap seats.  I put my chrome Texas Longhorn emblem right above the “ex” on the rear – Texas Ex – what a feature! It carries what I need carrying and has everything you can get on one except nav. I really like the looks (its a black-berry color – black with some red metal flake) Paying $25,000.00 cash for a new car with  10 year warranty is the way to go.  The wife likes her Sedona, too.  Fords were traded in on each vehicle.  I still like Fords, but I like both these Kias, too.   I am still not bothered by “hard plastic.”  My iPod sounds fine in it – and I cannot recommend Sirius radio enough. I have never missed knowing that my front sun roof is open – the dual sun roof feature is cool.  Good mileage – decent ride and drive.  What’s not to like?   I think I got more than my money’s worth.  I love not having a car payment – but then you journalists do not have one either, right?  Oh, the audi-esque front lights are DRLs – the fog lights are at the bottom ends of the front bumper.
     

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      ooops- wife has a Sorento, not a sedona.

    • 0 avatar

      Daviel, you pretty much proved my point that people who actually plunk their money down on the Sportage will be happy with it. I don’t expect a lot of buyer’s remorse out of Kia owners.
      The ability to buy an affordable new car is something many people value. Having sat in nosebleed seats at sporting events and concerts, I know that the cheap seats may be cheap, but they still get you into the game. The newness of a new car has a value all its own – a warranty, lack of concern over breakdowns and repairs, contemporary styling (and the new Kias are styled very nicely in many peoples’ opinion), modern features.
      You could argue that the most successful cars ever built were cars built for that market – an economical new car. The Model T, VW Type 1, 2CV, Mini, Rambler, Chevrolet (in the 1920s), the Dodge’s Plymouth line – all of them were targeted at the folks in the cheap seats.
      The cheap seats are an important part of any market.
       

  • avatar
    IGB

    Finally an honest review of a Korean car. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read one written by a sober author.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy Hagar

      Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s just a review that fits your preconceived notions (or critiques) of a vehicle. I mean, that’s what we do w/news nowadays (knee-jerk reaction, seek out info that reconfirms that preconceived notion, dispel information conflicting with that). Why should cars be any different?

      BTW: Honesty is in the eye of the guy who already made up his mind about something.

  • avatar
    ajla-

    Why hasn’t Hyundai/Kia completely replaced the old 2.4L with the DI 2.4L or 1.8L?
     
    IMO, they need to start streamlining their engine options.  All the company really has to offer in North America is:
    1.6L I4 (DI) (140hp)
    2.4L I4 (DI) (200hp)
    2.0L I4 Turbo (DI) (274hp)
    3.8L V6 (306hp)
    4.6L V8 (replace with the 5.0L soon)
     

  • avatar
    anchke

    I liked your comment about bad weather motoring and “safety” systems. I ‘ve been a bit surprised this winter by the number of motorists who tell me that their efforts to drive their new cars in the snow are overridden by the cars’ safety systems. They’d like their old cars back. I live atop a hill (“knob” as its known here in CT). From top to crest, said knob is approx 1/2 mile in length, fairly steep and twisty all the way. My Saabs simply gallop to the top in 3rd gear, wheels spinning merrily, though sometimes turning sideways when the road is completely unplowed. No matter, we always makes it to the top. My CR-V with awd and higher clearance simply churns through it all. But my neighbor, in some swoopy, upscale, 300 HP Asian sedan, with all manner of “safety” systems, was stopped short of the crest and had to back all the way to the foot in a blizzard complete with 50 mph wind gusts. This in a car whose design genius made sure that she can’t see out of it to the rear.  Rather than blasting to the top, the car kept slloooowinngg down until it just sat in one spot and spun helplessly. Wouldn’t it be safer to allow the driver to simply override these safety systems? Or just make them optional?

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      With our older 2005 RAV4 w/AWD, we were not able to disable the nannies.  As long as we didn’t challenge the systems too much, they kept the vehicle in the lane and moving.  But once stuck, the traction control didn’t allow any wheel spin, or not enough anyway to allow rocking a stuck vehicle.  With our ’08 Hyundai Tucson, we have a ESC button that can disable the traction and stability control, next to the 4×4 button to lock the center differential below 25 mph.  I experimented with these buttons a few days ago during our latest winter storm in an empty ice and snow covered parking lot.  I had fun and learned something.

  • avatar
    IGB

    Sammy, I’ve read your replies and I get it. Enjoy your Kia. It’s OK.
     
    I driven several Kias and Hyundais including the Sorento and the Genesis and so far have not figured out the hype. I agree with the authore in this review. That’s it.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Contrary to some, I found this review to be very honest and helpful.  Thanks.

  • avatar
    findude

    “Sharp turns out of steep driveways would kick in the DSC as the rear wheels lost traction.”
     
    “this was the FWD version of the Sportage, which also is available in AWD spec”
     
    ?

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I remain amazed at what people apparently pay for cars.
    I hope these don’t sell at $28k. Its a $20k car designed to look big and fat.
    For another $2k you get into an Audi A4.
    Of course, I also hope people don’t really pay in the high 40s for optioned A4s.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I bet people do.

  • avatar
    shaker

    How was the acceleration? The cornering? The braking (dry pavement)? The gas mileage? Leg room? (F/R) – how did the 6-speed auto tranny shift? How useful was the cargo area behind the 2nd row?
    I realize the the “chintz” factor of Korean cars is always brought to the fore, but I’m sure that if it looks decent, and is fundamentally sound, that’s a good starting point. Then, the items mentioned above become the deciding factors.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      +1
       
      I applaud Ronnie’s honesty, and like that TTAC goes for the stuff other reviewers leave out.   But in this case it seemed less like a car review and more like an essay on cheapness.   It also seems arbitrary to target Kia for shortcomings which apply to pretty much every small SUV.  CRVs and RAVs and Escapes are hardly the pinnacle of refinement themselves.

    • 0 avatar

      When I was finished writing the review, I realized exactly what you pointed out – that I didn’t mention a lot of the by the book performance factors. The biggest shortcoming, I suppose was not mentioning gas mileage. Most of the other things you mentioned I just don’t think are that relevant to the average Sportage shopper. They’re not going to take it to a track day.
      Still, it’s a good point so to correct those shortcomings. One of the cool things about publishing online is that you can fix things in the comments.
      Acceleration was fine around town but a bit sluggish out on the highway. In my hypothetical comparo with the Jaguar, the Kia would have won the 0-10mph contest (the XF has a perplexing unresponsiveness right off of dead idle). Over 60 mph in the Sportage you had to put your foot into it or downshift for any real acceleration.
      Cornering was about what you’d expect from a FWD based crossover of its size and weight. In the snow it was a little tricky because of the nannies. Maybe I just have to relearn how to drive with all the gizmos. Body roll was pronounced. A couple of times, as mentioned, the electronic controls seemed confused by steering wheel and throttle inputs. I’d include the transmission in that assessment. The six-speed transmission (with tap shifting if you want to) was fine most of the time, maybe a little bit busy. Like many modern transmissions, it’s programmed for gas mileage and it sometimes felt like it was a gear too high for my tastes but in general I didn’t bother with the tap shifter much.
      Dry pavement braking was adequate. I never felt insecure in the Sportage, but I would have been comfortable with bigger rotors. Maybe it’s a psychological thing – the big wheels make those rotors look really small. That was one area that it was hardest to avoid comparing with the Jaguar because the XF Supercharged’s brakes are outstanding. The Jaguar is a heavy car with brakes that are far more than adequate for just about any driving on the street. In the Sportage you can tell that you’re driving something much lighter weight but the brakes don’t give you the same feeling of surety.
      Gas mileage was ~23-24mpg for most of my driving. I did a banzai run to New Jersey and back but hadn’t thought about the insanely high tolls in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I had stopped to visit a friend in Harrisburg and when I counted up my cash I realized that if I took the toll roads, I’d run out of gas and money somewhere in Ohio. This is where modern car features actually help. The nav system let me find a route without tolls, It was a little longer but the cost of the tolls exceeded the anticipated fuel costs. The range information could be compared with the destination distance on the nav system. If the range equaled or exceeded the destination distance, I was safe. It was kind of iffy because at first I didn’t have sufficient range to get much past Toledo (so I started calling rabbis in Toledo to see if I could drop a few names as references and borrow $10 to get home). After a few miles of hypermiling it (doing about 52 mph on the interstate, as slow as I dared – also, a winter storm was blowing in so traffic was fairly slow) I realized that the two numbers were changing at different rates and that I’d just barely make it. In those conditions I was averaging about 31mpg. I did discover, btw, when pulling off of I-75 in the Detroit area, that the range indicator shuts off when there’s less than a gallon of gas in the car. (Before anyone says it: Kramer, yada).
      I did mention that there was plenty of seating and cargo room. I’m not a good judge of leg room, I’m 5’6 and have a 28″ inseam. I almost always have enough leg room.
      I hope this comment addresses the review’s shortcomings.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      It would really help if there had been some context to the criticisms and positives.

      For instance, bodyroll. 

      Sure, the Sportage may have more pronounced bodyroll than say, a 3 Series (much less the Optima or Forte 5 Door, but that’s to be expected since it is a CUV. 

      How is it’s bodyroll in comparison to other vehicles in its segment such as the CR-V, Rav-4, Escape, Outlander, Rogue, etc.?

      Same w/ the seating and cargo room (for instance, the Sportage has been dinged for cargo room in comparison to the CR-V and Rav-4 due it being a bit smaller and having a lower/sleeker roofline).

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Thanks for the update, Ronnie. I guess reviewing cars back-to-back would inevitably lead to comparisons – you should have driven a Camry in-between :-)

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I’ll tell you what I’d like you guys and gals to include in your reports and that would be some sound level measurements. $100 for the meter I guess. Our 11 year old CR-V has been wonderful but I’m tired of the highway noise. This topic will feature heavily in my car shopping next time. Our ‘V is great around town and over the mtns on country highways but on 75 mph interstate it ain’t so great. Some noise may be from our worn tires.
      How about borrowing/buying a sound meter from Radio Shack and testing the sound levels at shoulder level between the front seats?
      Also how about some idea of the cargo space? Is the cargo space 6ft with the rear seats laid down? Could you sleep in there? Is it flat enough to try? Could you carry how many 5 gallon jugs of paint? Or cases of beer? Or dogs? You pick the measurement. Our ‘V has spent many miles with the rear seats laid flat carrying camping gear, a kitchen stove laid on it’s side, tools, building materials (though I prefer to just drag our Brenderup 1205S trailer along to keep the mess out of the car), and so forth.
      Still always enjoy TTAC.

  • avatar
    Jockey

    I used not to care for crossovers, but this new Sportage looked good enough for me to think about it. After reading about all the stupid nannies that cannot be turned off I wrote it off my list. The only nanny I really need is ABS.

  • avatar
    CV

    I looked at some specs for the 2011 Kia Sportage and they listed “Electronic Stability Control w/ defeat switch.” Assuming that’s correct, rather than writing three paragraphs about how much you hated the stability control system, why not just turn it off when you felt conditions warranted that?

    As an aside, I understand the 2011 Hyundai Tucson Limited model now offers a special suspension with Sachs selective dampers. I would be interested to read an article comparing the ride quality of that Tucson model with this Kia Sportage, or perhaps a CR-V/RAV4, to find out whether the Sachs suspension makes a positive difference compared with the vehicles I listed.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Best of luck on getting a balanced review on the function and performance of any of the Korean cars out of this crew.  They would rather decry the plastics and point out interiors that violate their design standards – most are rather interior design essays IMO, not that there is anything wrong with that.

  • avatar
    RobertUK

    It’s a shame that most of the people above appear to be anti-Korean when talking about cars.
    We don’t have a British car industry now in the UK; all of our British car makers are now in foreign hands. So its changed our attitude towards buying a car.
    Firstly you do not and should not have to pay for “Quality”. The quality of cars produced by our car industry when it existed was not in line with customer needs; one of the reasons why it is not here now. Quality is what the customer expects; their expectations are what the manufacturer needs to get right to sell their products.
    Secondly, you need “Reliability” in a car. Here in the UK KIA offer a 7 year / 100,000 mile warranty; they obviously have confidence that their product will meet their customers requirements.
    In the UK we are having to wait 18 weeks for delivery of a factory ordered Kia Sportage (made in Slovakia).
    I think you lads and lassies will have to face up to the fact that the Koreans are beginning to make cars that are attracting lots of buyers.


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  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India