KIA Sportage
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Overall

The cool-looking Sportage small-tall wagon adds more coolness with a mild front and back restyling, suspension improvements and a quieter cabin.

Drivetrain

Base 2.4-liter four-cylinder now has direct fuel injection for more power and decreased fuel consumption; turbo four-cylinder with 260 horsepower carries over; four-wheel-drive system can lock up the front and rear axles for improved off-road agility.

If you admire the Kia Soul, but would prefer that your daily driver include all-wheel-drive, then the Sportage might do the trick. Under design director Peter Schreyer’s watchful eye, the Sportage’s modest styling revamp gives the Sportage a slightly bolder appearance. Kia has also added more noise-silencing material in and around the passenger compartment while also retuning the suspension for a smoother ride. For drivers there’s a selector that varies the stiffness and “feel” of the steering depending on the level of feedback desired. The base powerplant is a revised 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine that for 2014 receives a direct–injection upgrade (the fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber under very high pressure instead of through the intake manifold under low pressure). The result is a bit more performance: 182 horsepower versus 176 for the 2013 version. The optional turbocharged four-cylinder maintains its 260-horsepower output. The non-turbo four-cylinder connects to a six-speed manual transmission (available only in base front-wheel-drive models). A six-speed automatic is optional and returns slightly better fuel economy. Optional is a 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that uses the six-speed automatic only. The Sportage is a front-driver by nature, while the optional all-wheel-drive system, which is available for both engines, directs 100 percent of the engine’s torque to the front wheels until tire slip is detected. At that point, the required power is instantly deployed to the rear wheels. Additionally, a manually selected “Lock Mode” allows for a fixed 50:50 torque split at speeds up to 25 mph for those times when sustained maximum traction is required. Of the four trim levels, the top-line SX features unique body pieces and wheels and more supportive seats. An upgraded Infinity-brand audio system, panorama roof and push-button start are all optional, as are heated and cooled front seats (offered when the leather seat-cover option is specified).

Base price (incl. destination): $19,900
Type: Four-door sport-utility vehicle
Base engine (hp): 2.4-liter DOHC I4 (182)
Optional engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (260)
Layout: Front engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual; six-speed automatic (opt., std. with turbo)
MPG (city/hwy): 23/34 (AT, est.)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; stability control; traction control
Weight (lb.): 3,160