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2007 Kia Sportage

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San Francisco: The 2007 Kia Sportage looks good, but the real treat is on the window sticker. It comes with a lot of standard equipment for a low base price. Build quality is surprisingly good and the body panels line up precisely, plus the interior materials feel like theyíre designed to last.

Have you ever driven an old Kia Sportage?

Despite its many downsides, the original Sportage sold fairly well in the early 1990s because it was priced about the same as a pack of chewing gum. And it lasted about as long. Remarkably, the Sportage name survives today, albeit in a much different form. Todayís Sportage has almost nothing in common with the old, tiny, cruddy one, and, strange as it may sound, itís actually an SUV I donít mind driving.

Gone is the old truck-based design. In its place is a roomy and solid-feeling vehicle thatís based on a car platform, the same as the stunning Hyundai Tucson. As a result, the driving feel is smooth, quiet and composed, almost like a luxury car. Its 173-horsepower V6 engine provides enough grunt for spirited driving, and the suspension provides the kind of silky ride usually associated with more pricey cars and SUVs.

In fact, thereís only one thing in common with the old Sportage: the cheap-o price.

It starts under $16,000 for a stripped-down LX model, or around $19,000 with air conditioning and an automatic transmission. It compares well with small SUVs that cost $25,000 to $30,000, particularly in terms of interior space and material quality.

And if youíre nervous about Kiaís quality, as you should be considering the companyís long-term record, a couple of things may calm you down.

First, Kiaís quality reputation has risen dramatically recently, with better reliability ratings than many of the well-known, American and European brands.

And second, Kia offers a fantastic warranty for 10 years or 100,000 miles on the drive train and five years or 60,000 miles on everything else. Is that enough to make you buy one? Probably not all on its own. But when you combine the low price with a long list of standard features, excellent build quality, solid driving feel and Kiaís improving reputation, itís hard to ignore the Sportage.

INFOBOX: What was tested? The 2007 Kia Sportage 4x4 with a base price of $21,195. Options listed: Sport package ($900), floor mats ($85). Price as tested, including the $595 freight charge, the MSRP is $22,775

Why avoid it? Itís underpowered if you go with the base four-cylinder engine, so step up to the six-cylinder power train.

Why buy it? Itís a surprisingly good vehicle for how little it costs.

It compares well with other SUVs costing $25,000 to $30,000 or more.  By Derek Price  © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco


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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: 
The Kiaís Sportage grows up
Topic:  The 2007 Kia Sportage SUV
Word Count:  519
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Kia Sportage SUV
Photo Credits:  Kia Sportage Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 38

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2007 Kia Sportage

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