2001 Sportage New Car Test Drive
Choosing an SUV depends a lot on what you want it to do. Right now, the market offers several compact sport-utilities with tough-truck looks, but hiding beneath their tough exteriors are the hearts and souls of passenger cars. Built on passenger-car platforms, with car-like unit-body construction, they usually feature a full-time four-wheel-drive system that's a real plus on snow-covered roads. But many of them lack real off-road capability. When the tough get going, they're better off staying in the parking lot.
Kia Sportage isn't one of these.
If the Sportage looks like a tough little truck, that's because that's exactly what it is. Kia's Sportage is built like a truck, on a separate ladder frame; and it uses a truck-like four-wheel-drive transfer case that locks the front and rear axles together for serious off-road slogging.
Yet its passenger compartment is roomy, and it comes with a reasonable list of car-like appointments. All for a very affordable price. So if your destinations reach farther than just getting to the office after a blizzard, Sportage may be the small SUV for you.
For 2001, Kia has added even more value to Sportage with its new Long Haul Warranty. The basic warranty now extends to five years or 60,000 miles, while the powertrain is warranted for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Rust-through is covered for five years or 100,000 miles; and all new Kias now come with five years of free roadside assistance, with no limit on mileage.
The Sportage is available as a four-door wagon or a two-door convertible; both body styles are offered with two- or four-wheel drive.
The least expensive model is the two-wheel-drive convertible, at $14,395. The 2WD four-door starts at $15,295.
All models come with power door locks, power windows, power mirrors, and variable intermittent wipers. Four-doors only may be ordered in up-market EX trim, which adds air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, privacy glass, roof rack, and a rear wiper/washer. A Sportage EX 4X2 retails for $17,895, and the 4X4 starts at $19,095.
For 2001, Kia has added a high-zoot Limited version of the four-door, with a 140-watt, six-speaker stereo; remote keyless entry; and a special appearance package that includes body-colored side cladding, a chrome grille, and unique alloy wheels. Limited models start at $18,440 for 2WD, $19,640 for 4WD.
All Sportage models are powered by the same 2.0-liter twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine. All four-door models come with a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment; an optional four-speed automatic is available for $1,000. All 2WD convertibles come with the automatic; all 4WD convertibles come with the manual.