Date Driven: 6/21/2011 (2011 SX Hatchback)
Weak power down low. Unfortunately, revving the engine up high brings a degree of thrashiness. Six-speed automatic damps up- and downshifts very well, and usually finds the right gear. SX model comes with paddle shifters.
This is one fine-handling economy hatchback. Well-controlled body roll, good grip from the tires and reasonably quick, well-weighted steering. Chassis is incredibly stable, even through the slalom. Excellent brakes with a firm pedal.
Ride comfort is sacrificed somewhat for the aforementioned excellent handling. There's some bounciness over small undulations and a lack of damping over big bumps, but the ride is never truly harsh. Comfortable front seats help the cause.
There's some coarseness from the tires at highway speeds, making us believe Kia skimped a bit in terms of interior isolation material. Wind noise isn't objectionable, with just a bit of whislting around the A-pillars.
The driving position is too high, even at the seat's lowest position. The instrument panel's white lettering is easy to read, and most controls are simple and effective. The stereo volume/cruise control buttons have sharp edges.
Forward visibility is excellent due to small A-pillars. Rear three-quarter view is also reasonable, thanks to a large window in each C-pillar. The direct rearview is hampered by a small rear window, aided by the optional backup camera.
Seat Access & Space
Front access is aided by seats with virtually no lateral support. Head- and legroom are very good. Large, wide-opening rear doors make rear-seat entry a snap. But rear legroom is tight, headroom only adequate. Rear center armrest is plush.
Cargo & Storage
Decent-size front bin, side pockets and center armrest bin. But the surfaces are slippery, causing items to slide around on the plastic. Cupholders are large, but have same slippery surface. Love the hatchack and folding rear seats.
Some interior control knobs have uplevel grippy surfaces, and most buttons have good tactility. But much of the cabin is made of hard-touch plastic. No huge panel gaps inside or out, but did notice the occasional squeak and rattle.