Kia Sportage Wrapup

 

IMAGE: 2011 Kia Sportage ES AWD

2011 Kia Sportage ES AWD - Nice

I finished up with Kia’s new Sportage last night, when I had the chance to experience an hour and 45 minutes stuck in traffic. That’s the time when you really get to test the mettle of a car.

That kind of time in pokey bumper-to-bumper really brings out a vehicle’s annoying traits. It’s like being stuck in an elevator with your new girlfriend: It doesn’t take long to realize that the laugh you once thought was cute now sounds like  a donkey getting a high colonic.

Nevertheless, I still liked the Sportage. It got me to where I was going, not necessarily quickly. You learn the limitations of its 185hp once the traffic breaks loose and you’re trying to overtake cars at 80mph.

High points:

  • Comfort – Even on a long drive, the seats are supportive and the armrests are where they should be. That sounds like something to which Chris Rock would respond “That’s what it’s supposed to do! Whattya want, a cookie?” But it’s rare in the small SUV segment, where armrests are shoved in at weird angles, and seats are narrow and hard as  a rock.
  • Features – Simply packed with features you’re not likely to find in this segment, or if you do, will find them at a price significantly higher. It’s a complete win for Kia. Also, I’ll give an A+ for the radio design, which mimics an analog dial from the old days and works EXACTLY LIKE YOU’D EXPECT IT TO. How hard is this to figure out, people? I don’t want the tuning knob to scroll through my presets.
  • Styling – Up until this point, the styling in this segment was beyond bland, and you pretty much chose one based on who had the best deal at the moment. Combining great features with remarkable styling at this price point is another victory for Kia.

Low Points:

  • Visibility – I’ll complain about this until somebody starts to listen. You can’t see anything out the back window. Yeah, yeah, they give you a camera to so you can watch as you run over your kid’s tricycle in the driveway. Last time I checked, it’s a whole lot easier to back into a parking spot in three dimensions than it is in two.
  • Noise – I let my buddy Jay take a spin in the Sportage because he’s in the market for a car just like this. Overall, I think he liked it, but he did comment about the highway noise at 65 or so. Not overpowering, and I’d have to sample the RAV4 and CR-V again to see how it stacks up, but it was noticeable.

Here’s a little special feature for you I’ll try to integrate into all these reviews: It’s my audio notes from the road. Like it? Hate it? Send me a note.

http://ipad.io/Qfu

Next time: the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

 

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About Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald is an automotive writer, photographer and editor with credits in Hemmings Motor New, the Boston Globe, Forbes, the Washington Post, Esquire and BoldRide.com
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