2011 Kia Sportage is proof that the junior partner in the Hyundai automobile empire isn’t planning to slow down just yet. The Sportage has been completely redesigned, exorcising the past blandness from nearly every aspect of the car. Instead we now have — dare we say — excitement. Starting with an evocative exterior that proves crossovers don’t have to be boring, and extending to sporty, fun-to-drive handling and plenty of premium features, the 2011 Kia Sportage might be the new standard for compact crossovers.
Compared to the 2010 Kia Sportage, the 2011 model is 3.5 inches longer, adds 10 percent more cargo space and, with its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, makes more power than the outgoing V6 power plant and also achieves better fuel economy.
But the 2011 Sportage is not without faults. The 176-horsepower inline-4 is only adequate for this substantial utility package. And a byproduct of the sporty driving dynamics delivered by the suspension and wide, 55-series tires is a slightly stiff-legged ride. Both of these may be remedied when the more powerful turbo model appears later in the model year, along with adjustable suspension dampers.
Those unwilling to wait for the turbo model will likely find the 2011 Kia Sportage worthy of serious consideration nonetheless. When stacked up against the well-established Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Sportage comes up short in cargo space. The Sportage also undercuts lesser crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
So with undeniable value, lively handling, sharp styling and plenty of features, it appears the 2011 Kia Sportage has redefined the compact crossover segment.