Compact SUV; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $10,300 – $23,700*


2011 Kia Sportage Front


2011 Kia Sportage Rear


2011 Kia Sportage Interior


2011 Kia Sportage Profile


2011 Kia Sportage Interior-2


2011 Kia Sportage Front-2

Pros:
  • Maneuverability
  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
Cons:
  • Ride (SX)
  • Steering feel (EX, LX)
  • Visibility

Some visibility was sacrificed to the racy styling, and interior materials and fuel economy fall a bit below par for the class. Otherwise, Sportage delivers a host of standard features, plus an impressive list of luxury options that might be installed on a used example. Our Recommended (2011-12) nod goes to the high-value LX and EX trim levels. The SX’s quicker acceleration and sharper handling can’t overcome its noisy engine, stiff ride, and higher price when new, though price differences between models tend to be smaller on the used-car market.

Overview

Redesigned for 2011, Kia’s smallest crossover SUV gained freshened styling along with new powertrains. Sportage shared its platform with the Hyundai Tucson, but had unique styling inside and out and offered a different mix of features. Sportages came in Base, LX, and EX trim levels, each with a standard 176-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The top-line SX model held a turbocharged 256-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. These replaced a 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 173-horsepower, 2.7-liter V6. A six-speed manual transmission was available only on the Base Sportage. Standard on all other models was a six-speed automatic. All Sportages were available with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive was optional on LX, EX, and SX. The AWD system lacked low-range gearing, but a dashboard switch could lock in a 50/50 front/rear power split. The SX model had a sport suspension and unique trim.

Standard safety features included all-disc antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. Available features included a navigation system, rearview camera, rear-obstacle detection, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a ventilated driver’s seat, and keyless entry/engine start. Sportage competitors included the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4.

Yearly Updates

2012 Sportage
The 2012 Kia Sportage could now get Kia’s UVO infotainment system with voice control for cell phones and digital-music players. UVO was standard in EX and EX models. New rear dynamic suspension dampers and increased floor insulation aimed to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness. LX Sportages got new 17-inch wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires. The SX model’s optional blue or orange contrast trim and seat piping were dropped.
2013 Sportage
The 2013 Sportage received some minor tweaks. All models got sunvisor extenders. On LX and EX models the headlamp units added LED accent lighting. Power-folding side mirrors were standard on SX and optional on EX. The leather-wrapped steering wheels in EX and SX benefited from higher-quality hides. There were few mechanical changes, but the SX model’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine was rated at 260 horsepower. This was an increase of 4 compared to the 2012 model.
2014 Sportage
Kia’s 5-passenger compact SUV got freshened exterior styling, suspension tweaks, and updated infotainment features for 2014. Also, the base 4-cylinder engine got a slight horsepower boost, from 176 to 182 hp.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Standard Sportage engine was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which produced 176 horsepower. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, making 256 horsepower, went into the SX edition. Only the Base model could have a six-speed manual transmission; all others had a six-speed automatic.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 176-182
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 168
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
21/29
21/28
18.4-19.8
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 256-260
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 264
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

21/26

18.7

Road Test

With the automatic transmission, Sportage LX and EX models offer decent acceleration from a stop. Passing power is limited, but the transmission does its part by kicking down to a lower gear fairly quickly. The turbocharged SX is stronger in all situations. Lag is minimal, but torque steer and wheel spin are a problem on front-drive versions, particularly when the pavement is wet. This is not an issue on the AWD SX. Like its non-turbo counterparts, the SX benefits from a smooth, responsive automatic transmission.

Fuel economy falls short. In Consumer Guide testing, a front-drive Sportage LX averaged 19.8 mpg, and an AWD EX averaged 18.4. An AWD SX averaged 18.7 mpg. These numbers aren’t very impressive, even for testing that was done in mostly city driving. All engines, including the turbo, use regular-grade gas.

Although the firm suspension feels well controlled, a Sportage doesn’t filter out bumps as well as many class competitors. That goes double for the SX. Its sport tuning and lower-profile tires allow passengers to feel just about every pavement imperfection.

Body lean is well-checked in fast turns, but the steering feels somewhat light and lifeless, at least on the LX and EX. The steering is more firm and direct in the SX. That model’s moves are sharper all around, but we don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff of a harsher ride.

Wind and road noise are well controlled at all speeds. The standard engine is impressively smooth and quiet for a four-cylinder, becoming loud only at higher engine speeds. The SX’s turbo engine is noisier, but not annoyingly so. SX also has more tire and cabin noise than other models, and suffers from copious coarse-surface tire thrum.

Audio controls are mounted high within easy reach, but whether or not the car has a navigation system, radio-station presets are virtual buttons on a dashboard screen. The navigation unit is generally easy to program, but some operations, such as turning off voice guidance, are not intuitive. Climate controls are at mid-dash and easy to reach. With the available dual-zone automatic climate control, temperature is adjusted via rotary knobs, but mode and fan speed are governed by inconvenient pushbuttons. While most interior trim is unyielding plastic, it looks nice for the price. Overall, materials are high quality, solid, and well assembled. The SX offered optional contrast piping and other trim in a choice of orange or blue. The latter color is the better choice as the former makes the interior visually too loud.

Step-in height is modest and front occupants get plenty of headroom and legroom. The available ventilated driver’s seat is an unexpected convenience, but the lack of one for the front passenger was a strange omission. Visibility is not a strong point. Front and side roof pillars are quite thick and thus hard to see around. Worse, the rear pillars are huge, blocking everything to the back corners. A small rear window doesn’t help matters, either.

Backseat legroom is sufficient for 6-footers, but they might lack headroom if an optional panoramic sunroof has been installed. Foot space is tight if the front seat is lowered. An intruding wheelwell arch slightly hinders egress.

The cargo area has a handy under-floor bin and several convenient tie-down hooks. The floor is level with the hatch opening, making it easy to slide items in and out, but we’ve bemoaned the lack of a separate-opening hatch window. Rear seatbacks easily fold nearly flat, though the headrests need to be removed if the front seat is set far back. Cabin storage is merely adequate, with a small glovebox, decent-size console box, a pair of open console cupholders, a small dash bin, and the usual map pockets.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2011 Kia Sportage AWD EX

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 59

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.9 174.8 73 64.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
54.6 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 38.5 41.4 37.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2012 Kia Sportage 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Battery
Description: The battery may go dead and there was a campaign to update the engine control module so that the smart key system would allow the controller area network (CAN) bus to go to sleep. (2011)
Battery
Description: Installing an additional (redundant) battery cable causes the battery sensor to malfunction. (2011-12)
Cigarette lighter
Description: Some cigarette lighter adapter power plugs equipped with inline (internal) fuses may short out the lighter socket fuse or power outlet fuse. (2011-12)
Transmission problems
Description: Uneven shifting and failure to start could be caused by Power Train Control Module. (2010-12)

Recall History

2011 Sportage
Description: The brake-light switch might intermittently fail to illuminate the brake lights.
2011 Sportage
Description: The stop lamp switch in the affected vehicles may malfunction and cause the brake lights to not illuminate when the brake pedal is depressed or may cause the brake lights to remain illuminated when the brake pedal is released. A stop lamp switch malfunction may also affect the operation of the brake-transmission shift interlock feature so the transmission shifter would not be able to be shifted out of the park position. Dealers will replace the stop lamp switch free of charge.
2014 Sportage
Description: The certification label lists incorrect tire pressure.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.