Car Review: The Kia Sportage crossover will turn heads into 2012

While the 2012 Kia Sportage offers a few changes, the 2011 was already a redesign and may be all you need.
Photo: Russell Dandridge

DALLAS, December 28, 2011 — As we move into 2012, one car to look at again is the 2011 Kia Sportage. It was completely revamped, and the 2012 model offers only a few changes. In fact, the only new elements for the upcoming year are the suspension and some added sound insulation. Otherwise, there are some new extras in a few of the trims, but overall you will the 2011 model to be adequate.

Competition includes the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, both offering a bit more cargo space. Other competition is the Chevrolet Equinox and the Mitsubishi Outlander, which is mostly apples to apples in this comparison.

Highlights of the Kia Sportage in 2011 include snazzy interior and exterior styling that will turn heads. There are also premium finds inside the Sportage that might raise the cost in other brands.  

The Kia Sportage seats five and is offered in the base, LX and EX trim levels, as well as the upgraded turbo SX trim.

The base offers standards like 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels, air-conditioning, all-power accessories, tilt steering wheel with audio and phone functions. It comes with cloth upholstery, but there is a premium package you can get with the top of the line EX for a leather option.

The Sportage LX gives you turn signals on the exterior mirrors, tinted rear windows and keyless entry.

With the Sportage EX you get 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, foglights, chrome exterior accents, a rear spoiler, roof rails, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that also telescopes, a power driver seat, and, get this, a chilled glovebox.

The 2011 Kia still the best deal

Of course there are also packages like the EX Premium package that not only provide leather upholstery, but also heated front seats, a ventilated driver seat, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, and auto-dimming rearview mirror. With the LX and EX models there are also the options of an upgraded audio system and a voice-controlled navigation system with a back-up camera.

Under the hood, the base, LX and EX are all 2.4-liter inline-4 engines with 176 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. You get the base with a six-speed manual transmission. The LX and EX come with a six-speed automatic, too, but you can opt for front or all-wheel drive or the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine SX trim, which with FWD was the test vehicle for this review.

The 2011 Kia Sportage safety features include front side and full-length side curtain airbags, active front headrests, antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control, and hill descent as well as hill start control.

Inside the Kia Sportage, the top-of-the-line interior comes on the EX trim with lots of shapes and intuitive controls that are well-placed and easy to find and use.

The seats in all the trims are standout, with comfortable contouring to the body, and there are a lot of legroom and headroom for adults. Even in the back seat, two adults can fit easily. A third passenger in the back seat might make it a bit of a cramped, unless the three passengers are relatively small.

For an easy to drive and a fun “around town” vehicle, look at the SX if you want more power behind the wheel. Even so, the power from the four-cylinder engine is enough and the automatic transmission makes it an easy drive all around. 

Should You Need to Know: With not as much cargo space as several of the competition crossovers, there is 26.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.6 cubes with the 60/40-split-folding seats laid flat.

Miles Per Gallon: The SX got 22 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: For the top of the line SX, the price tag came in at $30,990 with most of the premium features included.

Rita Cook is a writer/editor with has over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent auto and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings.  She also contributes travel and auto to the Anthony Duva show, which can be heard live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST every Sunday at  Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, writes for the Dallas Morning News Green Living Section as well as artist profiles and www.greensourceDFW and spends much of her time on the road traveling or working on books. Her latest book releases are both “Haunted Dallas” and “Haunted Fort Worth” from  You can also follow Cook at Twitter at @ritacook13.




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Rita Cook

Rita Cook is a writer/editor with over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 10-plus years. She is the co-host of a radio show in Los Angeles; Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am and is on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings.  Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association and also writes an eco-friendly column for the Dallas Morning News.


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