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You Get What You Pay For by DSHornet from Alabama on 10/09/2005. Trim: 1996 Kia Sportage EX 4WD, Owned 2 years.
Pros: Good fuel mileage if driven carefully; fair highway performance; very capable off-road with 4WD; not too hard to work on; with Mazda engine, Hyundai transmission, and Toyota (I think) axles and transfer case, chassis reliability and design is good. Brakes are excellent and overall handling is good for a compact SUV. Front end alignment is still set right after two years, 25,000 miles, and several off-road excursions. A good buy FOR THE MONEY.
Cons: Lack of low-speed torque (below about 3000 RPM), but what is there is easy to control with throttle; very noisy, especially on highway (road noise, wind noise around top corners of back doors); body quality poor (various rattles, spare tire latch cable refuses to work properly), air conditioner evaporator freezes after about an hour on the highway. Body design and assembly quality are not so great.
Overall review: I needed wheels and the price was right, but I wish I hadn't wrecked my previous car, a Suzuki Sidekick. The Kia has a serious lack of low speed pull. I replaced the stock exhaust with a Flowmaster Series 40 and got more power, but also more noise (resonates at 2200 RPM), which is a problem with these cars. Adding fiberglass insulation in the body panels, roof, and floor helped, but nothing can help the rattles in the front bumper, the spare tire mount, and around the fuel tank (I've tried). Paint quality is only fair. This car is okay for a commuter, but not well suited for long trips. It will be paid for in 14 months!
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