The Kia Sportage is a low cost entry in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) market. Rather than focusing on performance or luxury, Kia focuses on providing a decent vehicle at a very low price. It is somewhat difficult to compare the Sportage to its peers, since even a fully loaded Sportage costs less than a large amount of its competition still at base price. The gas mileage is also fairly decent, further reducing the cost of ownership on the Sportage.
This design philosophy does not work quite as well for the Sportage as the Sephia, a sedan manufactured by Kia. Most of the SUV market consists of drivers looking for performance and drivers looking for luxury. The Kia Sportage is not designed to emphasize either area. As a result, many drivers are likely to pass over the Sportage, since cost is not the main issue for them.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Kia Sportage, Kia Sportage EX
The 1998 Kia Sportage is almost a complete redesign from the previous year’s model. The features themselves have not changed significantly in the process. Overall, the same basic features and options are still there, but Kia has improved how well these features work.
Measuring 170.3 inches long, the Kia Sportage is a fairly small SUV. Beyond the exterior mounted spare tire, exterior features are kept to a minimum. A roof rack, alloy wheels, rear spoiler, and special graphics are available as options.
The interior features are a little haphazard in the Kia Sportage. Power windows, power mirrors, and power locks are available as standard features. However, mainstay features like air conditioning and an audio system are only available as options.
Performance & Handling
The Kia Sportage is somewhat underwhelming in terms of performance and handling. The two-liter, four-cylinder engine is a little underpowered for a vehicle this size. As a result, the acceleration is fairly weak. The maneuverability is about what you should expect with an SUV. While the maneuverability and turning are not actually awful, they are also not that impressive. Almost any car or mini-van could out maneuver the Sportage in most driving conditions. The four-wheel drive option can give the Sportage better traction in some situations, but that is the extent of it as an advantage.
While the Sportage is a bargain priced vehicles, the standard safety features are fairly average, even compared to far more expensive vehicles. The Kia Sportage comes equipped with dual-front airbags and rear-wheel antilock brakes on all models. Four-wheel antilock brakes are available as an optional feature.
EPA Fuel Economy
Kia Sportage 2.0-liter automatic: 17/21 mpg city/highway
Kia Sportage 2.0-liter manual: 17/21 mpg city/highway
- Low price
- Four-wheel drive
You Won't Like
- Difficult to locate due to low number of dealers
- Poor quality construction
- Small cargo room
A low cost alternative for potential SUV buyers.
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