I really don’t know much about those sock puppets featured in the new Kia Sportage commercials and I am no expert in marketing but I do know a good thing when I see one, and the completely new-for-2011 Sportage compact CUV is a good thing.
I recognize the Kia marketing team’s efforts and believe they have done wonders for the brand. That is not to take away from designers and engineers at the automaker, though, far from it. A clever commercial or two on national television is still not going to insure corporate success if the product does not stand up to consumer scrutiny.
Since its inception, the Kia Sportage never really did that much for me. For 2011, all that has changed because so has Kia’s cute little crossover.
I like the new styling, I like the quiet ride and stable handling, I like the responsiveness of the four-cylinder engine backed by a six-speed automatic gearbox, I like the amenities including the panoramic sunroof, nav and premium audio system – I just flat out like this vehicle.
Our recent experience with the new Sportage was with a front-wheel drive EX model (AWD is available) sporting a set of very stylish 18-inch alloy wheels and tires. The list of standard features is lengthy and that list grows even longer with the EX upgrade package. Base Sportages can be had for under 20 grand with LX and EX platforms above that.
Significant work has been done to deliver the outstanding characteristics found in the new model. The 2011 arrives on an all-new platform and is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor thereby enhancing handling and aerodynamics. And safety takes no back seat as the new Sportage features airbags all around, active head restraints, four-wheel ABS disc braking, electronic stability control, hill start assist control and downhill brake control.
Fuel economy comes in at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway from the 176hp 2.4-liter I-4 and there is that Kia warranty that covers the powertrain for 10 years/100,000 miles; five years/60,000 miles on just about everything else. Pricing on the EX we tested started at $23,295 and came to $27,990 when it was all said and done.
How do I like you now, 2011 Kia Sportage? Just fine, thank you very much.