2005 Kia Sportage Road Test Review
drive by. You realize you haven't seen him for
simply ages and here he is - no longer a cute
kid but looking grown up and capable. Maybe
he went off to prep school.
so it is with the Kia Sportage. Absent from
the market for three years it is back with a
new persona. And like the kid up the block,
its act seems stitched together. But then that
is increasingly typical of Korean vehicles -
quality and reliability way up, design values
is the Korean car company you can actually pronounce,
the one with the clever ads. Nearly half of
the company is now owned by Hyundai, which no
American can pronounce though rhyming it with
Sunday comes close enough.
of their financial union the two can now share
hardware and ideas, probably more willingly
than sisters who wear the same size can share
clothes. But each, according to company officials,
will maintain distinct identities and a full
line of products.
immediate outcome of the relationship is the
new Sportage bearing a resemblance in size and
layout to the Hyundai Tucson. But then the Sportage
is better. Well, at least I like it better.
It seems more spirited, more light-hearted,
better looking (though neither is more than
not-bad in that department) and it is just generally
more appealing. But all of those traits are
subjective. Check them with your own meters.
the new Sportage is a well-built five-place
compact SUV offering an impressive array of
standard features in even its base-base model.
For its return to market it is now a car-based
(unibody) instead of a truck based (body-on-frame),
which means it is more a street and highway
vehicle than an off-road mountain goat. (There's
no low-low gear either.)
word "crossover" is sometimes used
to describe such car-based SUVs intended to
shine more in bad weather and on bad roads than
in the backcountry. And why not? Fewer than
5% to 15% of SUV owners ever actually take their
Sportage is no longer the cute-ute it once was.
(Prep school does that.) But it is more useful
in its young-adult size with handy folding seats
(even the passenger seat flops forward) and
tucking places that not only allow you to tote
a lot of stuff but to do the task in an organized
two things about those back seats (with their
60/40 split and their ample leg room): when
folded flat they lock in place. And when upright
they don't have to be upright. That's right,
the backs recline up to 18%. Stop by the club,
Sportage comes in two trim levels called LX
and EX, but some optional mixing makes for close
customization. And every Sportage at any level
comes out of the factory with the following
included: side-impact air bags; side-curtain
airbags; traction control; stability control;
four-wheel ABS (anti-lock brakes) with electronic
distribution of the braking force on four-wheel
disc brakes; cruise control; privacy glass;
roof rack; 16-inch alloy wheels. Notice I did
not say air-conditioning. No A/C? Whattha?
hold your horses.
offers an LX model for $16,490, thousands less
than the starting price of its perceived competitors
(Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Honda
CR-V). A $16,490 Sportage comes with the splendid
equipment listed above and a 2-liter 4-cylinder
engine, front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual
transmission. But no A/C.
of this as the northern-tier-of-states model.
Lots of people in cooler climes survive quite
well without A/C. And some don't want the extra
weight and bother. Anyway, relax. If you want
A/C in the LX you can have A/C for $800 extra.
(A/C is standard in the EX). And you can opt
for four-wheel drive, and an automatic instead
of the five-speed manual. But there is no automatic
with 4WD in the 4-cylinder LX. You'll have to
shift for yourself, which is just the way some
buyers want it. They are beaming at this Sportage
LX manual with 4WD...and optional A/C.
the 16-valve four-banger with its 140 horsepower
and 136 pound-feet of torque is not strong enough
for you, even with the manual to customize the
power curve to your needs, then choose the EX
and its V6. (An engine not offered in the Toyota
RAV4 and Honda CR-X doesn't offer. The Jeep
Liberty does with a segment-leading 210).
engine in the Sportage EX is an all-aluminum,
2.7-liter V6 making 173 hp and 178 lb-ft of
torque. Dual exhausts at the back announce its
presence. The V6 is teamed with a four-speed
automatic transmission. No manual is available
with the V6 but thankfully there is a manual
element in the automatic. These days, four-speed
automatics simply seem deficient. The "manumatic"
helps mask any shortcoming.
EX has more standard features including a power
sun roof, heated exterior mirrors, remote keyless
entry, security cover for the cargo area and
a illuminated circle around the ignition switch.
A Luxury package adds leather seating, heated
front seats, automatic headlight control, upgraded
audio system and a Homelink transmitter that
can open your garage door and turn your house
lights on from the car. Oh, yes body-colored
bumpers, a step up esthetically. And, get this,
we are still around $24,000.
4WD system in the Sportage leaves it a primarily
front-wheel drive vehicle until those leading
wheels lose traction then the rear wheels offer
their support. At crawling speeds, (under 20
mph) a 50/50 power split can be locked in by
pushing a button on the dash. This can bring
some really slippery surfaces to heel. Overnight
snow? The Sportage ground clearance of 7.7 inches
helps keep you well elevated even if the plow
car-like feature in the 2005 Sportage is all
around independent suspension. This is another
certainty that the 2005 Sportage is skewed toward
maximizing the road experience. The proof is
in the pudding.
2005 Sportage I drove, a 4WD V6, is far more
car-like than the cute-ute of old. Any roll
in the tight and twisties is like that of a
car, not a truck. It feels lower to the ground
than it is and actually has a sporty flair.
It feels secure and responsive. It is in short
fun to wheel about.
vehicle's utility is good. Access to the cargo
area is a hatchback hinged at the top. The back
window flips up separately to access on-top
items. The spare tire is now indoors under the
seats are remarkably easy to fold totally flat.
The folded down back on the front passenger
seat is at a slightly different level but it
still affords uninterrupted space for something
big and long from dashboard to rounded hatchback.
A kayak perhaps, but certainly any household
stepladder. Golly a third-grader superglued
to stilts is even an possibility, if it comes
2005 Kia Sportage has replaced added utility
and increased value for cute. Kia's strength
has always been in lower prices. Now that can
be read as greater value for the money. This
belongs on your look-at list.
More Information Click: Kia
For the Kia 2005 Model Guide : Click