Test Drive: 2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD car test drives kia
2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

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Kia Canada

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2009 Kia Sportage

North Vancouver, British Columbia – There are lots of small SUVs and crossover vehicles out there, and one that’s often overlooked is the Kia Sportage. Based on the same unit body platform as the Hyundai Tucson but built in a different South Korean plant, the Sportage is a compact, five-passenger SUV with a fully independent suspension, generous ground clearance, and is available with four or six-cylinder engines with front- or all-wheel drive. The 2009 Sportage ranges in price from $21,695 for the base model with a four-cylinder and manual transmission to $30,935 for the top “Luxury” trim with a V6, automatic transmission, leather and sunroof.

First introduced for the 2005 model year, the Sportage’s styling was updated this year with sportier front and rear bumpers, a new grille design and new headlights and fog lights. The new look is more attractive, but the Sportage continues to use bulky body-cladding on the side panels and fenders which makes the track look narrower than it is. My suggestion to Kia is to add wider tires or get rid of the cladding.

Test Drive: 2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD car test drives kia
2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

While the Sportage’s 140-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is rather anaemic, the optional 173-hp 2.7-litre V6 delivers satisfactory power and uncommon smoothness notwithstanding its relatively thirsty gas mileage.

This week’s test vehicle is a top-of-the-line Sportage LX-V6 AWD with the optional Luxury package that includes leather seats, heated front seats, tilt/slide glass moonroof, and leather wrapped steering wheel. Total price is $30,935 plus a pricey $1,650 Freight charge and A/C tax of $100 for an as-tested price of $32,685.

Driving impressions

With 173 horsepower, the Sportage’s 2.7-litre V6 engine is closer in size and power to its competitor’s four-cylinder engines rather than their six-cylinder engines – but the Sportage’s 2.7-litre V6 is not as fuel efficient: it’s Energuide City/Hwy ratings of 11.7/8.8 L/100 km (24/32 mpg) compare to the Honda CR-V’s 166-hp 2.4-litre four cylinder’s fuel economy ratings of 10.7/7.8 L/100 km (26/36 mpg); the Subaru Forester’s 170-hp 2.5-litre four cylinder’s 10.4/7.6 L/100 km (27/37 mpg); and the Toyota RAV4’s 179-hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine’s 9.7/7.2 (29/39 mpg) city/hwy.

Still, the Sportage’s V6 has one big advantage: it’s smoother and quieter. In terms of refinement, a small six is almost always better than a big four.

Test Drive: 2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD car test drives kia
2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

According to AJAC, the Sportage V6 AWD with a four-speed automatic transmission offers comparable performance to its AWD four-cylinder competitors: the Sportage takes 10.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h and 8.3 seconds to go from 80 to 120 km/h; that compares to the Honda CR-V with 10.3 and 8.7 seconds respectively, and the Subaru Forester with 10.7 and 9.0 seconds respectively.

The Sportage V6 isn’t really designed for towing, but its towing capacity is rated at 454 kg (1000 lbs) without trailer brakes, and 907 kg (2000 lbs) with trailer brakes.

In terms of braking, the Sportage stops quicker than many other small SUVs: from 100 km/h to zero, it takes 39.7 metres (130 ft.) compared to the CR-V with 42.5 metres (139 ft.) and the Forester with 41.5 metres (136 ft.).

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