2011 Kia Sportage – Click above for high-res image gallery

When it comes to the 2011 Kia Sportage, there's a lot to talk about. From where we sit, it's one of the best-looking compact crossovers on the market, it's reasonably priced (starting below $20,000) and as we found out in our first drive, it's a pretty enjoyable steer, too. To add to these selling points, the Sportage was just named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning high marks in frontal, side, rear and rollover crash tests.

Top Safety Picks are nothing new for Kia these days – the Soul, Sorento, and Forte sedan have all been given this seal of approval. Follow the jump to read Kia's own words about the Sportage's safety recognition.


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[Source: Kia]
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2011 Kia Sportage Named '2010 Top Safety Pick' By Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

All-New Compact CUV Receives Highest Recognition from IIHS -- Sportage receives top ratings for front, side, rollover, and rear impact protection -- CUV is fourth new generation Kia vehicle to be named "Top Safety Pick"


IRVINE, Calif., Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Joining the 2010 Forte compact sedan, 2010 Soul urban passenger vehicle and 2011 Sorento compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV), the all-new 2011 Sportage CUV has been recognized as a "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the small SUV category when built after March 2010. Arriving in Kia showrooms now, Sportage received the organization's top honor by earning "Good" ratings -- the highest achievable -- in frontal, side, rear and rollover impact crash safety tests. The Sedona minivan was the first Kia vehicle to receive the IIHS "Top Safety Pick," along with the "Safest Minivan Ever Tested" distinction from IIHS, shortly after its launch in 2006, and again in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

"The Kia brand is committed to providing consumers with the highest levels of passenger safety by providing a comprehensive list of cutting-edge technologies and features for increased crash protection," said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, Kia Motors America (KMA). "The 2011 Sportage's sleek and modern appearance continues Kia's design-led transformation while staying true to the company's core philosophy of providing consumers with exciting, fun-to-drive vehicles with high levels of value, quality and safety."

Ratings from the Institute are based on results from frontal, side and rear impact crash tests, and for 2010 a good performance in a roof strength test -- to measure protection in a rollover -- also was required to win. Each vehicle's overall evaluation was based on various measurements specific to each crash angle, and overall impact on crash test dummies inside the vehicle at the time of collision. All vehicles must have electronic stability control available to be eligible.

Like all Kia vehicles, the 2011 Sportage is equipped with a long list of standard safety equipment. Both trims come outfitted with driver and passenger advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags and front active headrests, four-wheel Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a Brake Assist System (BAS), which recognizes an emergency stop and delivers significant braking power. Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Brake Control (DBC) also come standard on all models, the former assisting in preventing the vehicle from rolling backward when trying to pull away from an uphill gradient, while the latter locks the vehicle at a slow speed down steep grades so the driver can focus their attention on steering.

To assist drivers when the vehicle is in reverse, an available back-up warning sensor helps the driver avoid contact with certain objects in the vehicle's path by triggering an audible warning when the vehicle approaches an obstruction, while an available rear-view back-up camera enables drivers to view certain items behind the vehicle.

The 2011 Sportage, which utilizes a completely redesigned platform, comes standard with a 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT), offering more power (176 hp) and better fuel economy (22/31) than the previous 2.7-liter V6 engine. Sportage also comes equipped with impressive standard technology features throughout, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service(1). Also standard on both trims are auxiliary and USB audio input jacks for connecting with MP3 players and Bluetooth®(2) wireless technology connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls to enable hands-free operation for compatible mobile phones. Available in three trims -- Base, LX and EX -- pricing for the dynamic compact CUV begins at $18,295(3).

Kia Motors America in 2010

Kia Motors is in the midst of a dramatic, design-led transformation, which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time, contributing to the brand's continued gains in U.S. market share. With three new vehicle introductions and several other key initiatives planned for 2010, Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and with new technology such as the UVO powered by Microsoft® advanced hands-free in-car communication and entertainment system (expected to be available in select Kia models in the U.S. later this year). The launch of the all-new 2011 Sorento CUV, the official vehicle of the NBA and the first vehicle to be assembled(4) at Kia's first U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia, further enhances the lineup, and is now in dealerships.