Now in its second model year, the 2012 Kia Sportage carries a decent-sized list of improvements from the previous year. The latecomer to the Sportage's lineup from last year was also the most exciting version: The turbocharged 260-horsepower SX. Replacing the V-6 engine in the Sportage's lineup from previous years, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder is much more fuel efficient and more powerful, too.
Body style: Sport/utility vehicle
Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, 2.4-liter inline-4
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Models: Base, LX, EX, SX
Now in its second model year, Kia added more swag and refined the Sportage for choosy shoppers. Standard on all models is a revised rear suspension setup that should help the vehicle handle better in addition to providing a quieter, smoother ride. On EX models, a sportier suspension setup now comes standard. Additionally, 17-inch alloy wheels are now included on LX models with new tires that feature lower rolling resistance to aid fuel economy. The SX and EX models come standard with Kia's UVO infotainment system. Also standard on EX models are cloth seating surfaces with anti-soiling, stain-resistant fabric. A low washer fluid warning light, a floor console, and rubber mat for the cup holders are now standard for all models, and models equipped with keyless entry have a flip-folding car key.
With large, raked headlights and a chopped-roof look, the Sportage is a drastic departure from the conservative previous models. Drawing heavily from the Kia Kue concept of the 2007 North American International Auto Show, the Sportage's appearance makes it look lower, longer, and wider than its predecessor. Yet, it still carries the appeal that comes with a crossover in that it provides drivers with a high-sitting, commanding view of the road.
Playing to the appeal Kia's led with in integrating both style and substance, the forward-swept dash panel kicks out Kia's formerly dowdy designs for a sense of curb appeal you probably wouldn't have expected just a few years ago. The Sportage features standard air conditioning, power windows, 12-volt power outlets both in the front and the cargo area, power mirrors with integrated turn signals, a tilt steering wheel, and keyless entry among a host of other features. Opting up to the EX and top-rung SX only add to the long list of equipment, from leather seating surfaces to hands-free calling devices in the list of available options.
Performance & Handling
If on-highway merging in the previous-generation Sportage was arduous in all but the V-6-powered models, you'll be happy to know that the current four-cylinder version is just as quick as its bigger-engined forbearer, hitting 60 mph in 8.8 seconds. And if that's not enough, Kia will happily sell its 260-horsepower turbocharged version to you, 1.5 seconds quicker on its way to 60 mph, but still geared for optimal fuel economy over raw performance. Despite its aggressive looks, the Sportage is more of a cruiser than an all-out sporty vehicle.
Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain airbags are standard for the Sportage. So are four-wheel ABS, stability control, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, hill start assist, tire-pressure monitoring, and downhill brake control.
EPA Fuel Economy
Sportage: 21 city/29 highway mpg (manual) (FWD)
Sportage LX, EX: 22 city/32 highway mpg (FWD); 21 city/28 highway mpg (AWD)
Sportage SX: 22 city/29 highway mpg (FWD); 21 city/26 highway mpg (AWD)
- Look-at-me styling
You Won't Like
- Reduced off-road capability
Turbo model not much quicker than less-powerful rivals
Jack of many trades helps this strong segment performer.
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