Back in 1995, I tested drove my first Kia,
the Sportage mini-SUV. While cute, Kia was still a work in progress.
Fast forward to the all-new 2005 Kia Sportage and you can see how far
the Korean automotive industry has come in a few short years.
While the new Sportage
shares its platform, size and running gear with the equally new Hyundai
Tucson, it has completely different styling cues giving the Kia Sportage
its own “character”. The previous Sportage was truck-based, but the new
version is car-based and much more refined.
The five-door Sportage
comes in LX and EX trim levels plus four-cylinder and V6 engines are
available. With models offering 2WD and 4WD, as well as manual and
automatic transmissions, there are a lot of ways to personalize your
Sportage. It also means a wide price range, from a basic model listing
under $16,000 to a loaded model nearing the $23,000 mark.
The 2.0-liter, DOHC,
16-valve, 4-cylinder engine is rated at 140-horsepower at 6000 rpm and
has 136 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. The 2.7-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V6
makes 173-horsepower at 6000 rpm and 178 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. Either the
5-speed manual or 4-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission is available
with the four-cylinder, but only the automatic is offered with the V6.
The fuel tank on 4-cylinder model holds 15.3 gallons and 17.2 gallons in
the V6. All Sportages can tow up to 1500 pounds when properly equipped.
The 4WD system is
really an electronically controlled, on-demand, all-wheel-drive system.
On dry pavement up to 99-percent of the power is delivered to the front
wheels. On slippery surfaces power is automatically directed to the
wheels with the best traction. If very slippery conditions exist the
center differential can be locked for a 50/50 split between the front
and rear wheels.
While air conditioning
is an $800 option on the entry-level Sportage LX, it is standard on all
other models. But even the LX model has nice features such as power door
locks, power windows and mirrors, an AM/FM/CD sound system, a
height-adjustable steering column and several front & rear 12-volt power
At the other end, the
EX model has an upgraded stereo system with cassette and MP3 players,
power sunroof, power heated mirrors, front fog lights, remote keyless
entry, trip computer, rear cargo cover and net, leather wrapped steering
wheel and upgraded trim. Externally it gets body color side cladding and
fender flares. Leather seats are available for the EX models for $800.
All Sportages have many
safety features, some not usually found on vehicles in this price range,
and definitely not as standard equipment. This includes dual advanced
front airbags, dual front-seat side-impact airbags and front and rear
curtain airbags. All five seats have three-point seatbelts and the front
ones have pretensioners with force limiters. Active safety features
include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force,
distribution, electronic stability control system and traction control
The instrument panel is
well laid-out with the gages - speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and
temperature - being easy to read. The sound system and climate control
have large knobs located on a center stack, rather than the tiny buttons
found on some Asian-built vehicles, and are easy to use by both driver
and front seat passenger. The quality as well as fit-and-finish is very
good - nothing cheap looking here.
For a rather small
vehicle, the Sportage offers a comfortable ride for all four, five in a
pinch, occupants plus lots of carrying capacity. Entry and exit for
front and rear riders is easy as you slide into the chair high seats.
While quite short, which is great for urban driving and parking, the
Sportage has a rather long wheelbase so getting into and out of the rear
is not hindered by the rear wheel arches. Also it allows for wider rear
doors for better access.
The back of the front
passenger seat folds down into a tabletop and to carry long items the
“Drop & Fold”, 60/40 split rear seat folds down almost flat without
having to remove the headrests. There is also a rear cargo storage
compartment under the floor
The Sportage is filled
with nice touches not normally found in a budget minded vehicle. For
instance, the tailgate window can be opened independently and rear seats
can be reclined up to 18 degrees for increased comfort. A hook in the
front passenger area keeps shopping bags upright and accessible. Plus
there are plenty of cup holders and storage places.
The V6-powered Sportage
I drove had plenty of power; I was even able to squeal the tires. I
suspect that the four-cylinder might be a bit underpowered especially
when loaded with people and their stuff. Even when ordered with the V6
engine that adds about $2,600, the Sportage is still less expensive than
many competitors that have only four-cylinder engines.
The Sportage’s ride
is quite good, a tribute to the fully independent suspension system
coupled with the nice, compact 103-inch wheelbase. Steering is on the
taut side and braking is very competent. Handling is very good for a low
priced SUV. All 2005 Kia’s carry a 5-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty
and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. All in all, a great,
low priced, compact SUV. By
Bill Siuru © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
To see the new Kia Sportage
or call them at 1.800.333.4542 for more information.
Kia Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
great low priced compact SUV
2005 Kia Sportage
2005 Kia Sportage
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