Advertisement2011 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD - Short Take Road TestEven sportagier.BY DAVID GLUCKMAN, PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARC URBANO
Photos (12)Highs and Lows
Highs:Turbocharged performance befitting something with two fewer doors, not-me-too styling.
Lows:Turbo is only available with all the fixin’s; firm suspension, firmer price.Visit Our Buyer's Guide »Kia Sportage› Overview› Specifications› Price with Options› Photos & 360° View› Get a Free QuoteNews & Reviews2011 Kia Sportage EX FWD - Short Take Road Test2011 Kia Sportage - Short Take Road Test2011 Kia Sportage - Official Photos and InfoKia Sportage EX 4WD - Road TestKia Sportage - Auto ShowsTop CompetitorsHonda CR-VNissan RogueSubaru ForesterSuzuki Grand VitaraToyota RAV4DownloadsTest Sheet
That Kia continues to assemble ever-better-performing, more-competitive, more-attractive products should be news to no one. That a small crossover is the Korean brand’s quickest vehicle might take you by surprise. It did us. But it’s true: Since the 1994 Sephia landed stateside, no Kia has hit 60 mph in fewer ticks of the second hand than this new turbocharged Sportage.
A midyear addition to the lineup, the SX gives the otherwise competent Sportage that which it lacked: haste. Its 260-hp, 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo four is a detuned version of the one available in the Optima. With optional all-wheel drive dispersing 269 pound-feet of torque, the Sportage reaches 60 in 6.1 seconds. It’s quicker to that mark—by 2.8 seconds—than a 170-hp, 2.4-liter Sportage with all-wheel drive. Quicker, by 0.3 second, than the lighter, 274-hp Optima SX sedan.
None of the Kia’s all-wheel-drive little-ute peers is as fleet, including the segment’s former top sprinter, the Toyota RAV4.
All turbocharged Sportages come with a six-speed automatic transmission. Its quick, smooth actions help the crossover live up to the first five letters of its name without sacrificing comfort.
Unfortunately, Kia is making a bad habit of exclusively pairing the engine we prefer with a “sport-tuned” suspension. Even though no stiffening of the already firm setup was ?warranted, Kia tightened the calibrations anyway. The SX’s suspension is composed but not compliant.What you get for $4500 in interior options: nav, upgraded audio, leather, heated seats, a backup warning system, and a giant sunroof.
Dual exhaust outlets, a barely scrutable T-GDI badge—that’s “turbocharged gasoline direct injection,” for the faint of scruting—and a less chrome-y grille are the only turbo identifiers on the exterior. Sportages in SX trim come with everything from the formerly top-spec EX, adding $2500 to the sticker for the stiff ride and the stout engine. At a base price of $27,990 for an AWD version, it’s more than a bit expensive. Our test vehicle arrived loaded with the $1500 Navigation option, which includes an upgraded audio system, and the $3000 Premium package (leather upholstery, heated seats, a backup warning system, a panoramic sunroof, a fan-cooled driver’s seat, and more). Throw in a $75 cargo mat, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money ($32,565, specifically). Expensive, yes, but the SX is sufficiently sportaged.
Just think if Kia were to try its increasingly deft hand at a proper sports car.Specifications
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED: $32,565 (base price: $27,990)
ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 122 cu in, 1998
Power (SAE net): 260 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 269 lb-ft @ 1850 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 103.9 in Length: 175.2 in
Width: 73.0 in Height: 64.4 in
Curb weight: 3642 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 6.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.1 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 37.7 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 6.6 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.7 sec @ 96 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 132 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 173 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.80 g
EPA city/highway driving: 21/25 mpg
C/D observed: 21 mpg
TEST NOTES: As with the turbo Sonata, a brake-torque launch yields much slower acceleration times. Simply mashing the gas gets quicker numbers.
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