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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.

[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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ok KIA, you bagged the IIHS.

      Now bag those tacky huge fake air intakes in the front bumper, and the silly chrome appliques.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They aren't air intakes, they are solid and do not allow through any air so they aren't fooling anyone. They are for design purposes and I like them. They balance out the front end.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cool, if you like big fake plastic intakes, go for it.

        I on the other hand think they look tacky and cheap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I plan on closing a deal on one of these by the start of next week. I have to wait until my color comes but they said I could use the only other one at the dealership as a loaner until then.
      • 4 Years Ago
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      • 4 Years Ago
      I have already been in one of those as I have a KIA dealership close to my house. From the front, car looks very good, clean and modern but I just don't like the side profile and rear tail lights (they are simply huge). From a side the car looks a bit squished, I think it has something to do with that huge D pillar. I guess for the price this is not a bad deal but I would cross shop few other vehicles before deciding. It's definitely a huge improvement over the previous generation Sportage and as far as the turbo engine, again, Hyundai/Kia are rather fairly new to this game, while the numbers sound impressive, I wouldn't buy the first year run of it though, with turbo cars you really gotta know what you are doing, although Hyundai does have a relationship with Mitsubishi so maybe thats where most of the expertise will come from.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You'd be surprised how much experience Hyundai has in regards to turbo engines. Its just that you dont see these engines here in the states.

        They have one of the best turbo diesel engines made in the world. They have extensive knowledge through their light/medium and heavy duty turbo diesel trucks. Also, their know-how in CRDi engines (common rail direct injection) engines are top notch.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Just for the record, the Sportage wasn't tested, excepting the seats. Per IIHS policy, the results for the previously tested Tucson were used since HKAG certified that the two cars share the same structure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like a Saturn Vue with VW lights. Still copying others I see. I can't get past the front end. It just looks too tall.
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I really like that little booger.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Apparently the 'safety ratings' don't take into account active safety, like the enormous blind spots at the C pillar. This isn't an issues specific to the Sportage, but I think there should be more emphasis on active safety rather than building road-going tanks.
      • 4 Years Ago
      4 years ago we bought a Sorento after looking at all the SUV on the market. That car was the best SUV on the market and now it has over 50,000 miles on it and still drilves, and rides like a new car. The quality is great we have had no problems and only spent on normal repairs, lights, oil change etc. So when I needed to replace my 1996 Mercury there was no question what car I was going to get another KIA. I bought a 2009 Rio 5 and again a Homerun. This car has a great ride, it get great mileage and plenty of get up an go and even on the highway its quite and responds well. As far as I am concerned KIA has the best cars on the Road today.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Our family has put 40K miles on an 09 Optima and 24K on an 09 Sportage, and we couldn't be happier with them. Nice ride, good fit and finish, excellent price, good warranty - everything you could ask for in an inexpensive vehicle.
      The Optima was purchased for my husband's high-mile commute; it's the low-end model in a manual transmission and he gets 32-ish MPG, even with the AC on and driving like a madman LOL The surprising thing about that car is how comfortable it is for the price.
      The Sportage was a replacement for a wrecked Ford Escape. I liked my Escape, but I have found the Kia to be a better ride, MUCH quieter, and much more ergonomically suited to my average-woman size and shape. I had the mid-trim-level Escape, and I have the top level Sportage - and it was still five grand less.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not in the market for one, but definitely anxious to see one in the flesh. As well as the Optima

        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm impressed with those weight specs. Thats lighter than some of the mid size sedans out.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's beautiful in person. Saw one in that same orange color and it looks so much better in person, and smaller too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Completely agree.

        I'm not in the market, but when the 2.0T /w 275hp comes out and AWD, I might consider one. STRONGLY. Originally I thought the Tucson looked good, but Hyundai / Kia has me trapped.

        Obviously waiting on the weight specs, but C&D had it at 3,100 - 3,500 lbs which is VERY DECENT for a CUV...lower it and you got one heck of a vehicle for the buck.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @rudyherfurth: http://www.kia.com/#/sportage/specifications/

        3,157-3,355 lbs, depending on trim level
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's totally mind boggling to think how far the Korean firms have come. I remember (not too long ago, maybe 5 years or so) when Jeremy Clarkson put together a bunch of Korean cars (including Hyundai) and blasted them.

        Standing here today, Hyundai is on fire with the Sonata. I've been looking for a 20K ish car for my wife and have considered the Sonata but am waiting for the Optima to come out and will check this out. The Sonata looks great IMHO, I just dont understand how on earth Kia raised the bar on the mid size design even further without loosing originality. The Optima is spectacular and so is this car.

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