What's New for 2007
The Kia Sportage remains largely unchanged for 2007. A newly available Sport package for LX V6 models adds foglights, sport gauges, a black mesh grille, leather steering wheel and shift knob, rear spoiler and an upgraded MP3-capable CD audio system.
First introduced to the U.S. in the early '90s, the Kia Sportage is one of the company's best-known models. Originally a truck-based body-on-frame SUV with smallish dimensions, the Sportage received a redesign two years ago that brought it fully up to date with a car-based structure and Kia's typical emphasis on value. Not much has changed since, and the 2007 Kia Sportage is one model you'll want to take a look at if you're shopping for a compact SUV this year.
Kia's goal with the Sportage is to combine the smooth ride, agile handling and refinement of a passenger car, the style and driving position of an SUV and the interior room of a wagon. And the company has succeeded. The Sportage, which is mechanically similar to the Hyundai Tucson, has as much or more headroom and hiproom as most competitors in the compact SUV class, and its stylish cabin features quality materials, great ergonomics and a smartly designed split-folding rear seat. It also comes standard with a long list of standard safety equipment.
Power is provided by two different engines: a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine or an optional 2.7-liter V6 engine that produces 173 hp. While the V6's output is enough for adequate acceleration, neither engine compares well to those available in many of the Kia's competitors in terms of maximum output or fuel economy. The Sportage is also stuck with a four-speed automatic, while many other compact SUVs now offer five-speed automatics.
Still, we think the 2007 Kia Sportage is a respectable choice for a small SUV. Certainly, it's not as quick as the Toyota RAV4 V6 and it can't match the Honda CR-V in terms of overall interior design or refinement. But its responsive handling, roomy passenger quarters and high value should be enough of a draw to make it one to consider during the decision process.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Kia Sportage is a compact SUV offered in two trim levels, LX and EX. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. Standard features on the LX include 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, tinted glass, a rear wiper and a CD player. Air-conditioning is also standard on all LX models, except front-drive four-cylinder models with the manual transmission. The Sportage EX adds the V6 engine as standard, along with a sunroof, foglamps, heated outside mirrors, a trip computer, MP3 capability for the CD player and keyless entry.
A newly available sport package for LX V6 models adds foglights, sport gauges, a black mesh grille, leather steering wheel and shift knob, rear spoiler and the upgraded audio system from the EX. For EX buyers, Kia offers a luxury package that adds leather seating, heated front seats, an auto-dimming mirror and a premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer; you can also purchase leather upholstery a la carte.
Powertrains and Performance
Two engines are offered on the 2007 Kia Sportage LX: a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder and a 2.7 liter V6. The EX comes with the V6 only. The smaller engine is good for 140 hp and 136 pound-feet of torque, while the V6 delivers 173 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. Both trim levels are offered with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. On all-wheel-drive models, power goes primarily to the front wheels and is rerouted to the rear when slippage occurs. The Sportage LX with a 2.0-liter engine is available with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. All other models have the four-speed automatic as standard. Fuel economy is a little below average for this class of vehicle.
The Kia Sportage comes with front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for both front- and rear-seat occupants. Antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control are all standard equipment. Sportage EX models also have a tire-pressure monitor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Sportage an "Acceptable" rating (the second highest of four) in its frontal offset and side-impact crash tests. Federal government testing on the Sportage resulted in a top five-star rating for both frontal and side-impact crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Kia designed a functional, roomy and attractive interior for the Sportage. Most of the materials are of good quality, and the build quality is solid as well. The rear-seat design allows for a flat load floor by lowering its cushion into the rear footwell; removing the head restraints is not necessary. With the rear seat folded, the Sportage offers 67 cubic feet of cargo capacity, a good figure for this class.
The 2007 Kia Sportage provides a carlike ride and relatively sporty handling that makes the Kia a little more fun to drive than many other compact SUVs. Power from the standard four-cylinder is barely adequate, so we recommend you stick with the larger V6. The four-speed automatic isn't quite as smooth as the five-speed units offered by competitors, but it usually manages to keep the V6 right in its power band.