2005 Kia Sportage

AdChoices

2005 Kia Sportage

By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 6

Bottom Line:

Much-improved compact sport-utility vehicle offers a lot for the money, especially with a V6 engine.
Pros:
  • Car-like
  • Roomy
  • Sporty look
Cons:
  • Weak 4-cylinder acceleration
  • Average handling
  • Marginal automatic transmission

The new-generation Kia Sportage is worlds better than the old model, which was dropped nearly three years ago. The previous Sportage had a successful run following its 1995 debut, but finally fell far short of rivals in performance and refinement.

The redesigned 2005 Sportage looks sportier than the last-generation model and is longer, wider, taller and more powerful—besides being more refined.

The Sportage is similar to the new Tucson from Kia's parent company, Hyundai. Both vehicles have nearly identical dimensions and the same engines and car-like platform.

However, these two compact SUVs are built in different South Korean plants, and the Sportage looks a little sportier. Its suspension is tuned for sharper handling than the Tucson's, but its roadability is nothing to shout about if it's pushed hard.

Long Warranties a Plus
The Sportage is well equipped and offers a lot for the money. It has the same 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty as Hyundai models. Hyundai claims it no longer needs those long warranties to attract customers. Kia still relies on them, and they're helping it rapidly approach Hyundai in nameplate recognition.

In 2004 both Hyundai and Kia easily topped their previous year's U.S. sales figures, and the companies continue to have strong sales in 2005. Their main strategy is to undercut the competition on price and standard features and continually improve their vehicles.

Question Marks
My test Sportages felt tight, but long-term reliability and resale value remain question marks, compared to established, highly rated competitors such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Jeep Liberty.

The funky Sportage convertible is long gone. This Kia now is offered as a 4-door SUV with a two-piece tailgate that comes in base LX and higher-line EX trim levels. It's sold with front-wheel drive or an all-wheel-drive system not meant for serious off-road use.

Front-wheel-drive versions have list prices from $15,900 to $20,100, while all-wheel-drive versions cost from $18,000 to $21,500.

Two Engines
Powering the Sportage are a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower or a 2.7-liter V6 producing 173 horsepower and considerably more torque.

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. Still, an optional 3.0-liter V6 with 200 horsepower would be welcome, and such an engine reportedly is coming.

The 4-cylinder is backed by a 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed automatic transmission, but the V6 comes only with the automatic, which should be more responsive. The automatic isn't as good as a more modern 5-speed unit, such as the one in the CR-V.

Competitive Fuel Economy
However, Sportage fuel economy is competitive for a compact SUV, at an estimated 19-22 mpg in the city and 23-27 on highways, depending on if the Sportage has a 4- or 6-cylinder engine or front- or all-wheel drive.

All Sportage versions have a good amount of comfort, convenience and safety items. They include six airbags, power door locks and windows, an AM/FM/CD sound system, a height-adjustable steering column, front/rear 12-volt power points and cruise control on the LX V6 version.

A shopping bag hook in the front passenger area keeps bags upright and accessible. That's one of those thoughtful, small features that may initially seem trivial but is appreciated over time.

The EX adds a power sunroof and remote keyless entry. Leather upholstery, heated front seats and an upgraded sound system are in an EX luxury option package.

Roomy Interior
It is easy to slide in and out of the quiet interior, which has a spacious rear-seat area. Four tall adults sit high and fit comfortably. While there's room for a fifth rear adult occupant, the hard center of the back seat will discourage anyone from sitting on it for more than short trips. It's best to fold down the rear center armrest.

Gauges can be quickly read, and there are large climate controls and a height-adjustable front center console with a two-stage tray top. But front and rear cupholders are set too low.

The low, wide cargo opening facilitates loading and "drop-and-fold" split rear seats can be moved entirely forward without much effort to significantly increase cargo space. There's no need to remove headrests and then search for a place to conveniently put them. Also, the front passenger seat folds flat to accommodate especially long cargo.

Average Handling With Hard Driving
A top-line, all-wheel-drive Sportage EX I tested had nimble handling in town, but average handling if driven reasonably hard through curves such as freeway on-ramps, with squealing from its 60-series tires. Those tires aren't especially wide for the best handling and fit on moderately sized 16-inch wheels. The 4-cylinder version has even thinner 65-series tires on the same-size wheels.

However, roadability is helped if a driver pushes overly hard by standard traction control, an anti-skid system and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.

Steering is fast enough but has a rather spongy feel that takes getting used to. The ride is supple, thanks to a fully independent suspension and fairly long 103.5-inch wheelbase. Braking is quite good.

South Korean automakers have become much more of a threat in a relatively short time, as the new Sportage clearly shows

advertisement

Search local listings

powered by:

Recently Viewed Cars

View favorites
BB02 - 8/28/2014 2:05:57 AM