2005 Kia Sportage EX
The Good: Easy to drive. Good interior quality. Nimble and sporty while holding the line on price.
The Bad: Seats are not comfortable on long drives. The Sportage is too narrow for truly fun driving. Hard plastic parts should be changed.
Walk around the Kia Sportage and see the interior then hear it accelerate with windows open and closed.
Apple QuickTime viewer here.
Hyundai and Kia are two of the fastest growing car makers in the US, vastly improving quality and building great cars. For 2005, Kia has totally redesigned the Sportage to keep up with the ever competitive small SUV market. Combining a roomy interior, the safety of six airbags, and a comfortable driving position, the Sportage definitely has what it takes to make it. Has Kia lived up to its goal of making more sporty and fun to drive vehicles than its sister company Hyundai? We are here to find out.
The Sportage is available in two trim levels which come with or without four wheel drive. The LX trim level can be equipped with a four- cylinder or a six-cylinder engine. The EX trim level is available only with a six-cylinder engine.
Our EX tester, with a window sticker price of $21,990, has the V6 powerplant making only 173 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. A BorgWarner electronic four-wheel drive unit routes up to 50 percent of available torque to the rear wheels when things demand it, otherwise this is a front wheel drive vehicle. A small in dash button can lock the torque to 50/50 making quick work of more serious off road conditions. This is controlled by a four speed automatic with the option of shifting manually, a good added feature.
Ride and handling are good for a sporty vehicle. The Sportage's steering is not slushy, and some road feel is evident. The suspension keeps most bumps from getting to you but it does need to be firmed up more for a solid feeling. Body sway and dive is on the low side but the small width of the Sportage tends to make you feel like you cannot take turns as fast as you should be able to. Brakes are average, nothing to impress anyone with. For daily driving around town the engine and horsepower is adequate and you can hardly notice the quiet and smooth engine. The feeling of power is truly lacking when you push the Sportage hard. Gear shifts are noticeable as they take their time to occur. The slow shift from first gear to second during spirited driving definitely needs to be improved.
From the exterior the Sportage has muscular yet compact looks. The front end is quite similar to the Honda CRV though we wish there was not a large nose bulging out up front. Larger lower side molding gives the car a more rugged look. A steeply raked rear end more flush with the vehicle gives the Sportage its modern appearance. Add to this dual square tail pipes integrated into the rear bumper and you have a clean and fresh design. Ground clearance is listed at 7.7 inches to let you go most anywhere off-road.
Interior design is clean and simple. The instrument cluster is of a modern design with white on black color. The center dashboard is surrounded by a brushed aluminum look plastic trim piece which is far better than parts used in other comparably priced vehicles. Stereo controls do look dated but it is a simple system to use with MP3 capability as well as a tape deck. The ventilation system lacks automatic temperature setting but nonetheless it works well and is only moderately noisy at the high setting.
A good leather wrapped steering wheel and shift lever is the perfect way to make a car feel good, and Kia has used this here. They have even used perforated leather where you are most likely to touch. The arm rest is also wrapped in soft leather. Doors use descent materials but do have hard plastic trim. Dash and door material does look like leather even though it does not feel as good. Our velour interior trim fabric with textured inner portions was adequate but we would expect a car in the $20,000 range to have leather seats. A self-dimming rear view mirror is also missing on this car which is only available as a additional option. Small details like hooks which flip open to hold bags are a thoughtful touch. Rear passengers also have cargo nets and bottle holders in the door storage area all around. The roof material used is still fuzzy fabric compared to the cloth like material used in many vehicles today. All doors close with a solid ‘thunk'; an indication of a quality built car. Overall, parts feel good in the cabin and you get a sense that you are in a high class car.
Seats are comfortably spaced out with a good amount of room for four persons. Five people can fit, but overall width is a bit narrow to do this in good comfort. Legroom is quite good both in front and back at 42 inches and 37 inches respectively. Cargo room is a descent 23.6 cubic feet. Rear seats fold down easily making a flat cargo area for large items. The rear portions of the seat backs are covered in a hard plastic which is useful and easy to clean but does get scratched and damaged easily. On long trips the Sportage is not very comfortable with seats lacking good support. This car is well suited for city driving, not long trips.
The Kia Sportage EX model also offers many other standard features not found in competitors at this price range. A power sunroof, dual exterior heated mirrors, fog lamps, roof rails, a glass flip open rear lift gate, air conditioning, cruise control, trip computer and ABS with six air bags including side curtain airbags all are standard in the Kia. Also packed into this EX trim is electronic stability program and traction control system.
Our Kia Sportage 4x4 started off at a base price of $21,400 due to this being an EX model with a four speed automatic. Add freight and the total comes to $21,990. For this you get a nicely packaged vehicle with a 10-year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-years of unlimited roadside assistance. Kia has a great web site for information on the Sportage as well as a very nice video of the car in motion , click here to view.