2011 Kia Sportage Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
FAST FACTS
  • Redesigned, third-generation Kia crossover SUV
  • Fresh new styling
  • Efficient 4-cylinder powerplants (no V-6 engine option expected at this time)
  • Two- or 4-wheel drive (2WD or 4WD)
  • New electronic power steering
  • All-new, fully-independent rear suspension

Introduction

2011 Kia SportageThe Kia Sportage is a compact crossover SUV that was one of the original models to debut from the Korean automaker when the brand arrived in the U.S. market in 1995. The Sportage has not been sold contiguously; it was pulled out of the U.S. domestic market in 2003 and 2004 (the Sedona and Sorento remained in showrooms, however). In the 2005 model year, an all-new Sportage arrived on a car-like unibody frame. That version mirrored many styling cues from its platform-sharing sibling, the Hyundai Tucson..

All-new for 2011, the Kia Sportage is now in its third generation. Differentiating itself from its predecessor, the new model is expected to only offer a 4-cylinder engine option (the 2010 model was available with a 2.7-liter V-6). No need to worry, as the advanced engines fitted under the hood of the 2011 Sportage promise nearly the same power, but with much better fuel efficiency.

The styling of the redesigned Sportage shows a strong family resemblance to that of the all-new (and larger) 2011 Kia Sorento. Unlike the previous-generation model, with its soft and rounded appearance, the new Sportage features bold lines with strong character traits, Kia says. With more room, better efficiency and some welcome character, the redesigned Kia Sportage will compete head-to-head with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Manufactured in Zilina, Slovakia, the Sportage will be sold worldwide with a variety of gasoline and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions, and with a choice between 2WD or 4WD.

Design

According to Kia, the all-new 2011 Sportage offers "bold styling that introduces a new kind of dynamic aesthetic.the latest Kia Sportage is an urban-friendly compact SUV for today's families." It is a description that sums up the automaker's latest model quite well. The new Sportage is longer, wider and lower than the previous model-yet it still offers a commanding driving position that SUV owners appreciate. Kia says the Sportage was designed specifically to meet the needs of consumers looking to downsize their vehicle as they enter the compact (C-segment) SUV group of buyers.

Hardware

Unlike the models sold in other parts of the world-offered with fuel-efficient diesel powerplants-the U.S. market will initially only receive Sportage models equipped with 4-cylinder engines. While the specific powerplants are still unannounced, they will be mated to either 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions designed to offer improved fuel economy.

The front suspension of the all-new 2011 Kia Sportage is of an independent compact MacPherson strut design. In the rear, the Sportage benefits from an all-new independent multi-link system with dampers and coil springs mounted separately (isolated) to reduce noise intrusion into the cabin. The steering system is electric power-assisted rack and pinion, and there are disc brakes at each corner.

The Kia Sportage has shifted its ride directive towards comfort on the street. However, Kia has outfitted its latest compact SUV with optional all-wheel drive and a "lock mode" that splits torque 50/50 between the front and rear axles to better tackle slippery conditions both on- and off-road, the automaker says. In addition, the Sportage has a trail-friendly approach angle of 22.7 degrees and departure angle of 28.2 degrees. If needed-and traction is available-the new Sportage can climb a 44-degree grade, according to the automaker.
2011 Kia Sportage

Safety

The 2011 Kia Sportage is offered with driver- and front-passenger air bags, front-row side air bags, full-length curtain air bags (with rollover sensor), and active front-seat head restraints. Standard electronic safety components include anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC), downhill brake control (DBC) and hill-start assist control (HAC).

While it has yet to be tested, Kia says the new Sportage is designed to achieve a 5-star rating in Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) crash tests and maximum scores in NHTSAand IIHSratings. Compared to the outgoing model, the 2011 Sportage is constructed with a greater proportion of high-strength and extra-high-strength steels compared to the previous model, says the automaker.

Technology

Kia's engineering team developed a new electric power steering system for the redesigned Sportage. According to the company, it is designed to deliver improved steering feel, precise vehicle control, and low effort during parking. At higher speeds, more substantial feedback is provided. According to Kia, the speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system requires just 2.96 turns lock-to-lock, meaning the vehicle is responsive to minor steering inputs without feeling "floaty" while driving. Unlike traditional hydraulic systems that use a belt and pulley system and can sap engine power, the new electric motor-driven power steering (MDPS) uses electricity supplied from the alternator, simplifying the system and delivering a 3.5-percent improvement in fuel economy, Kia says.
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