2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD
2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Bob McHugh

Photo Gallery: 2007 Kia Sportage

The compact utility vehicle market, whether you prefix it with ‘Sport’ or “Crossover”, appears to be the place that every vehicle manufacturer wants to be these days. Full credit to Kia for spotting this trend early: the Sportage has been around since 1995 and in its current form since the 2005 model year.

Kia is that other South Korean automaker, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyundai. Kia tends to be a bit more daring in the types of products it offers and in the way it markets them to potential buyers. The Sportage, originally a somewhat risky entry in the Canadian market, today looks like a marketing masterstroke.

Unlike the first generation Sportage, which was based on a truck chassis, this Sportage has a unibody car-like platform, which it shares with the Hyundai Tucson. A very good warranty (5 years /100,000 km), an excellent safety package plus versatile seating and cargo space are all strong points of the Sportage.

I drove an LX-V6 with all-wheel-drive ($29,235), which comes with a standard four-speed automatic transmission. The base Sportage LX has a 140-hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine mated with a 5-speed manual and the 4-speed automatic transmission is optional. Drive goes to the front wheels if the optional all-wheel-drive system is not purchased.

2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD
2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The fastback treatment on the rear of Sportage sets it apart from the crowd and definitely adds to its sporty disposition. I like the way the roof-rack is incorporated in the design and swoops down to link up with the rear taillights.

A long wheelbase (for its size) gives the Sportage short body overhangs front and rear. This adds to its sporty look and also gives it better approach and departure clearance, if you were to take a Sportage on an off-road excursion.

The rear liftgate window opens independently – always a nice feature. Small packages can be dropped into the cargo hold without lifting the entire rear door and if you’re packing a lot of gear it makes it easier to stack (and unpack) the lighter stuff on top while the door is closed.


Interior impressions

The Sportage value-for-your-money factor is clear when you move inside. There’s lots of room for four (maybe five) tall adults in a modern interior and standard equipment in the test vehicle included power windows and locks (with remote), air conditioning and a six-speaker audio system.

2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD
2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD
2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

Adjustable rear seatbacks (which recline up to 18-degrees) were an unexpected treat and behind them there is 667-litres of cargo space. Lift the cargo floor and you’ll find an additional large storage tray. Fold the rear seatbacks and the cargo space expands to 1885 litres, plus the front passenger seatback also folds-forward to accommodate longer items.

The split 60/40 rear seats fold almost flat without having to remove the head restraints. Called the “Drop & Fold” (sounds like my self-defense manoeuvre) by Kia, the lower seat cushion automatically moves forward and down when the seat back is released.

Stability control, along with anti-lock brakes, traction control and four-wheel disc brakes are all standard on all versions of the Sportage. And it has a full compliment of air bags, including side curtain bags that protect both front and rear passengers. However, an ‘acceptable’ overall crash test rating by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), placed it disappointingly in the middle of the pack in terms of safety, when compared to other vehicles in this category.

Driving impressions

Sitting taller than in a car, the elevated driver’s seat offers a vision advantage that’s enhanced by extra large side mirrors. While the steering wheel has an up/down tilt feature, the column does not slide in and out. I was still able to find a comfortable driving position and particularly liked the large rest pedal for my left foot.

2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD
2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The 173-hp 2.7-litre V6 engine is quiet, a smooth performer and it supplies adequate power, but there were times when I would have been welcomed a little more oomph. Although it has a manual shift mode feature, a four-speed automatic is a bit behind the times these days, as many competitors now offer more fuel-efficient five-speed units. NRCan’s published fuel consumption figures for the Sportage V6 AWD are 12.4/9.4 L/100 km (city/highway).

The fully independent suspension offers a supple ride that Kia claims is a little firmer than the Tucson. The Sportage is an easy vehicle to drive and certainly handles more like a car than a truck, but don’t expect sports car like steering feel or agility.

2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD
2007 Kia Sportage LX-V6 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The all-wheel-drive system normally sends power to the front wheels and instantly redirects it to the rear when needed. There’s also a centre differential lock for slippery or loose surface roads, which distributes power 50/50 (front to rear).

Verdict

Good looking and good value, the Kia Sportage is an attractive package with a cleverly designed interior.


Pricing


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Honda CR-V
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Toyota RAV4
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Hyundai Tucson
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Ford Escape
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Chevrolet Equinox
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Pontiac Torrent
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Saturn Vue
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Subaru Forester
  • 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara
  • 2007 Nissan X-Trail
  • 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander


Crash test results


Manufacturer’s web site

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