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regfootball

2011 Kia Sportage base

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Tested..... 2011 Kia Sportage base. White / black cloth.

4 cylinder motor, front drive, 6 speed manual transmission. MSRP it was like around 20.

Highs-

Room and Space - Driver and front passenger have ample space. Rear seat is good for kids and teens if legs not too long. Lots of width.

Styling - very attractive styling on the exterior (although the base model wheels were a bit of a dud). Decently attractive dash.

Features - fairly well equipped even as a base model, USB, bluetooth, SWAC, power everything

(some) Ergonomics - steering wheel is nice and falls into hand and gauges are decent to look into. Armrest and drink holders and window switches laid out nicely.

Powertrain - engine doesn't SOUND strained or vibrate much and is acceptably smooth, even at speed. In the right gears and hit the clutch right and you can break the tires.

Transmission - the 6 speed manual is like flicking a delicately light toggle switch and is very precise with lots of mechanical smoothness. Very very nice to shift even if the throws are longer than what you might like.

Can occassionally feel 'SPORTY'! WOOT!

Warranty

Price - at least in the lower trims

Lows

Engine - there are some flat spots in the torque band if you get caught its a little slow, but keep it in the right gear and you are fine. The engine does have a nice snarl to it if you hit the gas right. Even in 6th, rpm is too high at cruising speed (close to 3k rpm at 70+ mph).

Visibility may be a problem for some. I even thought there was too much distortion out the rear window too.

Climate controls a bit far away and need a bit of time to memorize. Radio also looks like a small bit of time is needed to ingest and find everything.

Steering feel is simply ok. I think it could be improved. It steers quick enough.

Braking, like the steering, nothing sensational.

Clutch is light, but GRABBY and very much like a toggle switch too. Once you learn it I'm sure its ok.

Leg room in the back could be more when the front seats are far back.

Interior plastics could be better. Carpet is thin. Seat cloth is rough.

Cargo hold could be larger, and most certainly could be trimmed out nicer.

Just enough lack of noise abatement and refinement that it makes you wonder.........work on the NVH in the cabin and chassis.

**********terrible drivers seat**************HARD, digs into your back and oddly shaped on your legs and tush. One of the worst drivers seats I have encountered. REASON ENOUGH TO NOT BUY THE VEHICLE IF IT BUGS YOU.

Verdict -

This vehicle needs some finishing school. That criticism has been leveled at some of Hyundai's and Kia's new product and it can apply, but I can tell you the Sonata has a better level of polish than this, and a Sorento feels way more solid. The thing is that some folks may not notice or care. What I think regarding this vehicle is that it just needs that extra level of attention to make it feel better. As it is, it probably feels its price in base trim, but I would not look at one of these loaded at a much higher MSRP. I've driven some of the competition but not all. I have not driven an Equinox or Terrain but it is not hard to fathom that those would feel a lot nicer. I do know a Saturn Vue of the last gen is a more polished product than this. So is my recently reviewed Mitsubishi Outlander even. I do also know the Ford Escape feels more complete (just not as sexy). But the Sportage is nicer than the turd I drove last weekend (Jeep Patriot).

I guess a lot of my impression here is the fact that the driver's seat and I did not agree. It was a constant source of bother, and there was nothing notable in the rest of the drive experience that could divert me from thinking about it. The steering, brakes, suspension all just merely seemed passable to average. The sense that the vehicle could stand another pass at refinement is also what stayed in my mind.

It also didn't help that I drove a Kia Soul right after that just plain was more fun to drive. That's a separate writeup.

I can't call this a bad vehicle. It's just not fully realized in this base form, and maybe I need to drive a plusher version or wait for the turbo. I do know that I have no plans to buy one of these unless things get fixed, and I really don't expect them to ever do that.

Shift it yourselfers though, if you want a trucklet with which you can row your own, it's enjoyable enough on that premise alone as long as you don't dwell on the handling aspect, because it's not a 'driver's vehicle'.

grade - C, or better yet, incomplete. C+ or B- if the seats do not bother you. Or, check back when that turbo comes out.

Edited by regfootball

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With your latest set of test drives, the jeep and the Kia...I am wondering how low humanity can sink when it comes to what we drive.

Seriously.

Though I enjoy reading your write ups....but this would be one car I would NEVER want to own. Sonota on the other hand, and even he Forte Koup, or the Genesis coupe....much more polished, and "better" cars.

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the thing is, most people are not knowingly this critical. if they did drive stuff back to back only then they would notice the differences. To some degree, everyone is subliminally critical.

I think for the commuter crowd, aside from the seat, may not have too much objection to the vehicle by and of itself if they weren't mindful of the other competition's virtues. It's vices are sort of stealth.

Usually after I test drive something, I go to edmunds or aol or any other web site where they have user reviews to see if there were any common impressions between me and other owners. Sometimes there are some, sometimes I get unique impressions.

I actually should go read the Tucson and Sportage reviews now and see what they say and see if I had anything in common with them.

I really want to like this vehicle because the styling is such an advancement for Kia. But the styling should not be the best part.....

Edited by regfootball

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edmunds latest review says the Sportage has 'well contoured seats'.... HMMMMMMMM

user review on edmunds says 'the seats could be more comfortable'......

Edited by regfootball

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Kia still needs finishing school, big time. the Forte Koup is decent, but could use better chassis tuning. It is in a bad spot, not quite a sports car but not quite comfortable enough for the masses as a daily....

As for the Soul, our family has an original Scion xB....when my teenage kids and there friends can ride in an xB and laugh at the soul....you know you've got no soul if you buy a Soul....

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