1999 Kia Sportage Review
Pros & Cons
- Both the convertible and four-door models offer excellent standard features for a low price.
- Not quite as capable off-road as the comparably priced Toyota RAV4.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Part owned by Ford and Mazda before Hyundai acquired the company, Kia relies heavily on resources from all three companies as it struggles to its feet in a tough marketplace. The Sportage is the product of collaboration between Kia, Ford, Mazda and suspension-tuning guru Lotus. Designed from the start as a sport utility, the Sportage sports tough ladder frame construction, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, and a Mazda-based 2.0-liter engine that makes 130 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque.
Two trim levels are available: base and EX. Base models are well-trimmed, including power windows, split-folding rear seats, a remote fuel door release, power mirrors, a rear defroster and air conditioning. Optional equipment includes four-wheel antilock brakes, leather interior, cruise control and an automatic transmission.
A wide variety of colors are available on the Sportage models, a few of which appear to have originated from the minds of the folks currently in charge of painting Hot Wheels cars. The look is rugged yet cute; perfect for family duty in the 'burbs. Off-road, we found the Sportage confidence inspiring, but it didn't feel as tight as a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.
For most owners, that won't matter. Few SUVs actually leave the pavement, and on the pavement is where the Sportage shines. Lotus engineers worked wonders here, and the Sportage is stable and comfortable. In the four-door model, the seating position is high and upright, visibility is outstanding, and the layout of the dashboard and controls makes the Sportage easy to manipulate. Rear seat riders enjoy lots of room and support, afforded by "stadium style" elevated seating. The convertible offers an easy-folding soft-top and a full-size spare tire mounted in an outside carrier. From the driver's seat, the Sportage looks and feels much more substantial than its low price would lead you to believe.
For young families and active singles looking to get into a sport-ute without getting into financial servitude, the Sportage is worth a look.