What is it? The Sportage, redesigned for 2011, is a small SUV that's similar to its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Tucson. It's a little longer, lower, and wider than the previous model, with cleaner, sportier looking styling. Cabin appointments are basic but nicely fitted. It will come in two trim lines, the LX and EX. Both are powered by a 176-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that Kia says is more powerful, yet thriftier than the outgoing Sportage's V6. A more powerful turbocharged, direct-injection version will be added mid-year. The base transmission is a 6-speed manual; the uplevel gearbox is a 6-speed automatic.
What's new or notable? The Sportage EX will offer a Microsoft UVO in-car communications system, similar to Ford's Sync, that extends voice command to cell phones and MP3 players. The EX also offers heated and cooled leather seats, a chilled glovebox, and other goodies.
CR's take: The Sportage looks like a competitive alternative in the crowded small-SUV niche, although the sloping, coupe-like roof reduces cargo room and could inhibit rear visibility.
When will it be available? Summer 2010.
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