Only the four-door wagon model of Kias compact sport utility vehicle remains on sale for 2002; the two-door convertible version is gone. Seat belt pretensioners have been added, speakers are upgraded and the hatch gets an outside handle. The upscale EX version gains a cladding-color roof rack and a hard spare tire cover. Sportage sales topped 62,000 units in 2000, an increase of nearly 10,000 vehicles.
Built with trucklike body-on-frame construction, the Sportage offers 7.9 inches of ground clearance sufficient for full offroad capabilities. Kia is currently owned by Hyundai, South Koreas largest auto manufacturer. Hyundai also markets an SUV of its own in the United States, called the Santa Fe. Kias come with similar warranties to those offered by Hyundai, which include a 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty on major powertrain components and 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion coverage. Owners also get free roadside assistance for the first five years.
Kia will continue its new-product blitz in early 2002, when the automaker is expected to roll out a new SUV that will be longer in wheelbase than the Sportage and will likely be equipped with a V-6 engine.
The Sportage measures 170.3 inches long with a 104.3-inch wheelbase. The SUV stands 65 inches tall and uses a trucklike body-on-frame construction. Tires are 15 inches, and a full-size spare is mounted on the tailgate.
The Sportage holds five occupants in front bucket seats and a split, folding rear seat. Power windows, locks and mirrors are standard. The top-of-the-line EX model has a CD player, roof rack, air conditioning and alloy wheels, but leather seats are optional.
Under the Hood
The 130-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mates with a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. The Sportage may have either two-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive, which is designed only for slippery surfaces.
Front airbags protect the head and upper body, and a drivers knee airbag also is standard a feature found on few vehicles in the U.S. market. Antilock brakes are optional.