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#17

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,052 - $14,121
Original MSRP: $16,995 - $23,495
MPG: 20 City / 25 Hwy
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2010 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 lacking in power. However, its car-like handling and more powerful V6 engine option make up for it.

  • "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 wheel spin 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 2010 Sportage comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower, but most reviewers think it's slower than they would like. Also available is a 2.7-liter V6 engine with 173 horsepower that test drivers tend to prefer. By contrast, the Toyota RAV4's base engine makes 179 horsepower -- six horsepower more than the Sportage's higher-end engine.

The Sportage doesn't gain anything in fuel efficiency for its sluggishness. Its fuel economy figures are about average for its class. According to the EPA, 2WD models with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission achieve 20/25 mpg city/highway, while those with the V6 achieve 18/23 mpg. At 19/27 mpg, the RAV4 achieves better fuel economy than the V6 even with its least efficient powertrain. Of course, the RAV4 also costs nearly $5,000 more than the Sportage.

  • "Four-cylinder models are fine for light-duty commuting. We recommend V6 versions, though they're no fireballs, barely matching the performance of a 4-cylinder Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The automatic transmission is responsive enough with either engine, though it can be sluggish to downshift for highway merging and passing." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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 V6 engine, while offering two more cylinders than the 2008 Honda CR-V (Toyota offers a V6 with its RAV4), doesn't seem any more responsive than the Honda when connected to the standard four-speed automatic." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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, making it a great daily commuter.

  • "Overall, Sportage is pleasant, balanced, and maneuverable in most all other situations. Steering feel is leisurely but faithful. The brakes have progressive pedal feel and provide quick, sure stops." -- 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: 2010 Kia Sportage

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