2006 Sportage New Car Test Drive
Kia has finally replaced the Sportage, the model that put the Korean company on the map in the U.S. back in the mid-'90s. However, the all-new Kia Sportage is entirely different from the previous model as it is based off a car platform instead of being a traditional body-on-frame truck-based model as in the past.
Although the Sportage is derived from the Hyundai Tucson it has different styling and Kia has tuned the suspension so it delivers slightly sportier, crisper driving characteristics.
The added performance from the V6 engine offers the best bang for the buck and if you can afford the extra $1,200 for a model with 4WD that is the best value of all. Even with a V6 the Sportage ends up being considerably less expensive than the similar sized Honda CR-V and the smaller Toyota RAV4, both of which are only available with four-cylinder engines.
Even more important is that the Sportage offers more safety features as standard equipment than other vehicles selling in this price range.
The all-new Kia Sportage comes in two trim levels, LX and EX. Buyers choose between four-cylinder and V6 engines with a choice of transmissions, and two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The entry-level Sportage LX ($15,900) comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, manual transmission and front-wheel drive. Air conditioning is optional, however ($800). Apart from this it is well equipped including power door locks, windows and mirrors. And it has more safety features than any other vehicle on the market at this price.
Opt for a four-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission with air conditioning and the four-cylinder engine and the LX stickers for $17,500. The four-cylinder LX with electronically controlled on-demand 4WD and manual transmission jumps to $17,900 but does include air conditioning.
The LX is also available with a 2.7-liter V6 engine and automatic transmission for $18,500 with front-wheel drive or $19,700 with 4WD.
The EX ($19,999) adds an upgraded stereo system with cassette and MP3 players, power sunroof, power heated mirrors, front fog lights, remote keyless entry, trip computer, rear cargo cover and net, leather wrapped steering wheel and upgraded trim. Externally it gets body color side cladding and fender flares. It comes standard with an automatic transmission and 2WD. The 4WD version goes for $21,400.
Leather seats are available for the EX ($800). A luxury package including leather seats, upgraded stereo, heated front seats and other amenities is another option ($1300). Options for all models include side step bars ($340), rear spoiler ($150), tow hitch ($340), cargo tray ($75) and cross bars ($185).
Safety features standard on all models includes dual advanced front airbags, dual front-seat side-impact airbags (for torso protection) and front and rear curtain airbags (for head protection in a side impact or rollover). All five seating positions get three-point seatbelts and the front ones have pretensioners with force limiters. Seat belts are your first line of defense in any crash, so always wear them.
Active safety features that can help you avoid a crash include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). Every Sportage comes with an electronic stability control system (ESP) and as well as a traction control system (TCS).
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