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A smooth ride for a good price

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 3rd, 2005

If you are in the market for a small, affordable sport utility vehicle, you might want to check out the new Kia Sportage. The sportage used to be a very small and buzz-like, but it has grown up and gotten a lot quieter.

Unlike the previous model, the new Sportage is available with two engine options. You can either have a base 2.0 litre, in-line four-cylinder engine, which produces 140 hp. Or you can have a 2.7 litre V6, which produces 173 hp. Either way, you'll be getting a very quiet car.

Take note though, you won't be getting a fast car. The V6 might be decent at highway speeds, especially when you poke it, but speed is not the strong point.

Kia Sportage

Neither is handling. This has the softest suspension set-up I have come across in the last 10 years on any type of car. As a result, if your cargo isn't tied down it'll be shifting from side to side all the way home. There is, however, an upside to that mushy set-up; the ride is really comfortable on the highway. It makes a great highway cruiser, which I found out on my drive to Montreal. I have had both the four-cylinder and V6 models as test vehicles, and thankfully for my road trip, I had the V6 with me. That enabled me to keep a good pace on the road, however I wasn't passing by too many gas stations, and for a small SUV, it drank more than I expected.

On the plus side, I thought the interior was well put together and spacious, and I especially liked the reclining rear seats. On the down side, the trunk space is rather small.

Also a downer is the manual gearbox in the base model. The clutch feels like you're squishing a sponge, and the gearbox feels like you're spinning a screwdriver in a yogurt bowl. The plus point on the auto is the Steptronic automatic four-speed transmission, which allows you to change gears in an auto box. It's not really useful in a car of this type, but it's a nice additional feature to have. While this might be a mini-SUV, don't try to go off-roading with it; it's not really designed for that.

It's designed to be a year round vehicle which suits our climate just fine. The seven and half inch ground clearance would be great for those winter snowstorm months.

Now to the best part; not only does this vehicle have one of the best warranties on the market (five-year bumper to bumper), it has a very affordable price tag too.  The price starts at just under $20,000 and comes loaded under $30,000, which makes it a good buy. So, if you are looking for an everyday vehicle, check this Kia out — you might be surprised.
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