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#13

in 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $8,372 - $12,624
Original MSRP: $16,695 - $23,400
MPG: 20 City / 25 Hwy
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2009 Kia Sportage Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Most test drivers find the Sportage's base four-cylinder engine on the sluggish side. But car-like handling and a more powerful V6 option lead many reviewers to praise the Sportage's performance.

  • "We'd view the Sportage's on-road demeanor as creditable, although not entertaining, but, for an SUV, being creditable is more important." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The optional four-wheel drive is so-so. It allowed some wheelspin and slithering on full-throttle starts in heavy rain. But it fairly quickly compensated and stabilized the Sportage. And it has a lock button that ensures power to front and back wheels, regardless." -- USA Today
  • "Available in two trim levels, LX and EX, the Kia Sportage offers the kind of performance and refinement usually associated with the small SUVs from Japanese automakers." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Sportage comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 140 horsepower, but most reviewers find it sluggish. Also available is a 2.7-liter V6 engine with 173 horsepower that test drivers tend to prefer. According to the EPA, 2WD models with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission achieve 20/25 mpg city/highway. Those with the V6 achieve 18/23 mpg.

  • "Four-cylinder models are fine for light-duty commuting, but lack enough power for confident highway merging and passing. We recommend a V6 model, though they're no fireballs, only matching the performance of a 4-cylinder Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The automatic transmission is responsive enough with either engine, though not even the V6 has abundant passing punch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "But compared to rivals, the Sportage's power plants are both down on power -- the V6 makes only 173 horsepower, not much more than competitors' four cylinders. Furthermore, the Kia must make do with a four-speed automatic, while some other compact SUVs offer five-speed automatics." -- Edmunds
  • "The 4-cylinder is okay for city driving, but has no surplus of power on highways. The V6 provides lively acceleration in town and on the highway, at least with only a driver aboard." -- MSN

Handling and Braking

The Sportage's independent front and rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering contribute to a car-like ride and nimble handling.

  • "Sportage is among the best-riding compact SUVs. It is composed around town, with little unwanted bounding or pitching, though some testers feel Sportage is slightly less absorbent over sharp bumps than its sibling Tucson." -- Consumer Guide
  • The Sportage has four-wheel-independent suspension, so the ride over pothole-ridden streets is reasonably comfortable and the tires stay in contact with the road. Despite the inclusion of stabilizer bars, front and rear, body roll is moderate." -- Cars.com
  • "On the road, the 2009 Kia Sportage provides a carlike ride and relatively nimble handling that makes it a little more fun to drive than some other compact crossover SUVs. It's both a decent city runabout and a serviceable long-distance highway cruiser." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2009 Kia Sportage

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