SUV Review: The
2008 Kia Sportage seats five people comfortably and it compares well
with other compact SUVs, particularly in terms of price and standard
equipment. This vehicle carries the Sportage name, but it's nothing like
the cramped, truck-based original Sportage.
If there were a contest
for the worst car in history, I'm pretty sure the original Kia Sportage
would be somewhere on the list.
Sure, the Renault LeCar,
the Cadillac Cimmaron, the Yugo, Chevy Vega, Ford Pinto and anything
from AMC, would give it some serious competition. But the first Sportage,
introduced in 1993, was a clown car that was built like a pickup, with a
body seemingly made from Reynolds aluminum. It sounded like a dump
truck, drove like a golf cart and had the exact same horsepower as an
electric can opener.
If you parked it in
your driveway, it would lower the value of your home by 50 percent, or
In a wonderfully
merciful move by Kia, the original Sportage disappeared after 2002 and
only came back as a completely different, totally unrelated vehicle in
2005. Why Kia decided to revive the Sportage name on this new car is one
of the world's great mysteries because - let's be honest - does anyone
pine for the emotions they felt when they first drove a 94-horsepower
In any case, today Kia
builds a fairly nice SUV that they oddly still choose to call the
Sportage. Now it's based on a car and actually competes well with other
car-based SUVs when you consider its low price, impressive safety
ratings and high level of standard equipment.
It starts at just
$16,000 for a stripped-down model, but you probably don't want that one.
It has a manual transmission and no air conditioning. Unless you live in
the Arctic you'll probably want the one with A/C and an automatic for
around $19,500, or one with a V6 and four-wheel drive for $21,345.
It's that top level
where the Sportage really looks like a bargain. Where else can you get a
loaded V6 SUV with leather and four-wheel drive for the low $20s? This
is pretty much your only choice.
Even the LX models
aren't too shabby. They come with power everything and cruise control.
They also have enough safety features to earn a five-star front- and
side-impact safety rating from the government, including things like six
air bags, electronic traction control and stability control to help
Upgrading to the EX
models, which aren't much more expensive, will get you a sunroof,
keyless entry and better fabric on the seats. If that's not enough, you
can add the $1,300 luxury package that comes with leather seats that are
heated in front, automatic headlights, an upgraded stereo and built-in
garage door opener.
Sadly, the upgraded
stereo still can't play MP3 discs, a feature even the cheapest economy
cars are starting to add as standard equipment.
And, worst of all, even
with the V6 engine it feels slightly sluggish. The V6 only makes 173
horsepower, which would be plenty in a small car but isn't impressive in
a heavy SUV. That wouldn't be so bad if it got awesome gas mileage, but
it doesn't. It only gets 17 mpg in the city.
Oh well. I suppose Kia
had to find some little way to link the latest generation Sportage to
the old one.
In case you're nervous
about the quality of a Kia - as you should be if you know the company's
reputation from the '90s - it backs up its products with a 100,000-mile,
10-year powertrain warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty.
Surveys show the quality of Korean carmakers, including Kia, has risen
dramatically in the past few years.
Overall, the Sportage
offers a lot for the money, especially when you look at the top-end
models. If you want a compact SUV with a V6 and leather, it's hard to
justify paying thousands more for a Toyota, Ford, Honda or Chevy.
What was tested?
The 2008 Kia Sportage EX 4x4 with a base price of $22,895. Options:
Luxury package ($1,300). Price as tested including a $625 destination
Why avoid it?
Even with a V6 it doesn't feel very powerful.
Why buy it? It's
a bargain priced small SUV. It has five-star crash ratings, decent
standard equipment and a very low base price.
By Derek Price ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Kia Home Page
Byline: SUV Review
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: A Kia SUV
built for bargain hunters
Topic: The 2008 Kia
Word Count: 800
Photo Caption: The 2008
Kia Sportage EX
Photo Credits: Kia
Sportage Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 19
the Microsoft Word version here:
2008 Kia Sportage
Download the Original Image File here:
2008 Kia Sportage