The best-looking cute-ute on the marketKia has recently swept the market by storm along with the help of its sister company Hyundai. Few know however, that Kia has been around for nearly 70 years.
Kia has recently swept the market by storm along with the help of its sister company Hyundai. Few know however, that Kia has been around for nearly 70 years. The brand started off as a manufacturer of hand-crafted bicycle parts. They didn’t start building cars until 1974. Coming from a long history of ups and downs, Kia has triumphed into becoming a serious contender in today’s automotive market.
The Kia Sportage first appeared into the open market in late 1993 as a Ford/Mazda mash up. The world market model was assembled in South Korea, and the German market model was home-built in Germany. The first-generation stuck around essentially unchanged until 2004, when it was given its first major overhaul and began to share its platform with the Hyundai Tucson and Elantra. Keep in mind; although Hyundai was taken more seriously than Kia at this point, the brand was still nowhere near where it sits today.
The current Sportage made its debut in 2010 and is still going strong. In my opinion, its styling genuinely makes it stand out against all other contenders in the compact crossover/sport-utility market. The Sportage is my personal favourite for a couple reasons. Not only does it (arguably) look much better than everything else in its class, it also is available with a traditional manual transmission.
For this week, I decided to pretend to be a young adult recently out of university. It’s time to purchase my first compact SUV because I don’t want to give up the feel of a small car. I also need adequate fuel economy for my daily commute, and it also must be capable of getting me up into those tough-to-access spots in Northern Ontario which a Corolla can’t get to in the winter.
My 2013 Kia Sportage EX AWD came to me looking great in “Signal Red”. With an as-tested price of $31,995, the little ute came equipped with the 6-speed automatic transmission which shifts exceptionally well and predictably. This is a huge bonus for me as there has been no shortage of complaining from me about continuously-variable transmissions available on the market. The Sportage also comes well equipped with the standard goodies such as Bluetooth connectivity, stability control, dual-zone climate control, and heated seats. A neat little bonus I discovered was the reverse camera integrated right into the rear-view mirror.
A contender in a very competitive class, the Sportage competes with the likes of the Nissan Rogue, the Ford Escape, the Mazda CX-5, the Toyota RAV4, and its own sibling, the Hyundai Tucson. Though a preliminary assumption, I definitely feel as though this Sportage has my nod. I mean, just look at it. I couldn’t help but directly compare it with the Nissan Rogue I drove a couple weeks ago, and between the two, it’s a clear no-brainer. I do feel as though the proclaimed fuel efficiency and packaging of the Mazda CX-5 might give it a slight edge.
Kia has packaged the Sportage with two available engines; this 2.4L inline-4 putting out a healthy 176 horsepower, and the even peppier 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder boosted to 260-horsepower. Yes, this is the same 2.0T available in other Kia/Hyundai products. On this 2.4L, Kia claims 10.2L/100km city and 7.4L/100km highway. This sounds extraordinary and I initially looked forward to the savings my wallet would experience. Unfortunately, in winter driving with a light foot, I couldn’t do any better than a combined 10.4L/100km. If I had the Sportage in the summer months, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I could get a combined 9.0L/100km.
I do however have a few gripes with the Sportage. For a nicely-appointed compact SUV priced at $32,000, I’d expect a sunroof. Also, for the year 2013, Hyundai has fixed the issue of requiring a proprietary iPod cable on most of their available stereos. It’s about time Kia did the same. I don’t think it’s fair to have to spend more money on a pin adapter from Apple for my iPhone 5 or have to kill battery life by streaming music over Bluetooth. I mean, without a traditional USB port, I can’t even charge the darn thing. I could technically use the 3.5mm auxiliary port, but then I wouldn’t be able to browse through playlists on-screen either. This base audio system (with satellite radio) is easy to use and maneuver through, but the speakers’ lack of ability to play any sort of low frequencies without straining makes it hard to love. Most of the music I tried lacked any punch whatsoever.
Although I’m not exactly at a point in my life where the Sportage would appeal to me, I definitely did enjoy the comfort it provides. Additionally, I had that ‘car guy’ feeling of turning around and looking at your car after you park it. Yes, it’s that good-looking. No one complained of a lack of head or leg-room; and for young families, you can toss a stroller or two in the back. The Sportage is not only spacious, but with the packaging of safety features, all-wheel-drive, and toys in this EX model, it seems to be a match made in heaven.
2013 Kia Sportage EX AWD Gallery