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2011 Kia Sportage Review

MPG-o-Matic 2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD Review Summary: The aggressively-styled 2011 Kia Sportage stakes out a bold space in the highly competitive five-seat crossover market. Sharing its platform with the Hyundai Tuscon, the Sportage plays the design card, and trumps the competition with features for the dollar. This one is stuffed with all the goodies, in a quest to one-up the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.



The 2011 Kia Sportage is equipped with a 2.4-liter DOHC 24-valve inline four cylinder engine producing 176 horsepower (HP) and 168 foot pounds of torque, and is available in both front-wheel- (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD). The LX and EX models are fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the base model is equipped with a six-speed manual. AWD is only available in the LX and EX models.


The official fuel economy estimates for the automatic-equipped 2.4-liter 2011 Kia Sportage EX are 22 city / 31 highway miles per gallon (MPG) with FWD and 21 city / 28 highway with AWD.

We traveled roughly 300 miles in our Techno Orange review unit and fell a bit short of the official mileage estimates, with an average of 26.2 MPG on the Interstate highway and 23.7 MPG combined. Testing was performed in Eco Driving mode. Temperatures ranged from the mid-thiries through fifty degrees, with Interstate highway testing temperatures in the low forties. Highway results may have been skewed due to 20-25 MPH winds. The test vehicle was delivered with just under 3200 miles on the odometer.

The 2011 Sportage EX is equipped with distinctive 18-inch alloy wheels clad with P235/55R18 Hankook Optimo tires. The base and EX models are fitted with 16-inch alloys and 215/70R16 tires. 225/60R17s are optional on the LX.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 25.5 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 26.9 MPG

We found the Sportage to be capable of covering the 0-60 MPH run in the nine second range.

Highway driving range is acceptable when driven conservatively. The Sportage is fitted with a 14.5 gallon fuel tank, and is designed to run regular unleaded fuel.

Curb Weight: The 2011 Sportage EX weighs in at 3,355 pounds with AWD and 3,186 pounds with FWD.

The Sportage is equipped with four wheel anti-lock (ABS) brakes, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TCS), and Downhill Brake/Hill-Start Assist Control (DBC/HAC). The AWD model is fitted with 11.8 front (vented) rotors and 11.2 rear (solid) rotors, while the FWD model uses 11.0 front (vented) rotors and 10.3 rear (solid) rotors.

The center mounted Trip Computer toggles the Sportage’s Eco Driving mode on and off, and provides two trip meters and fuel range, along with average and real-time fuel economy displays. We always recommend driving with the real-time display active to encourage light-footed driving.

The electronically controlled six-speed automatic provides a slap-stick Sportmatic manual mode, for those so inclined.

While we have no qualms over the Sportage’s handling under most conditions, the little crossover’s aggressive looks and name suggest something a bit more sporty … we’ll just have to wait for the upcoming turbo-equipped model to see if it meets its billing.

The cabin is a definite high-point. Our Sportage EX was decked out with the Premium Leather Package and the result is quite a bit more than you might have previously expected from a Kia.

The Premium Package includes leather seat trim, two-level heated front seats, an air-cooled driver’s seat, push button start, a panoramic sunroof, and rear sonar. An eight-way power-adjustible driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar is standard.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel provides integrated controls. Hands-free Bluetooth is standard, as a six-speaker audio system and SIRIUS satellite radio.

There’s one twelve-volt outlet in the cargo area and two at the base of the dash, where you’ll also find the (standard) USB iPod and auxiliary audio inputs.

Our test unit was equipped with the Navigation/Premium Audio option package, which includes SIRIUS Traffic and rear back-up camera, along with an external audio amplifier and subwoofer. Not a bad deal for an additional $1,500.

The iPod integration and interface is well done, with full access to playlists from the LCD screen.

The second row includes a center armrest. There are 38.5 inches of rear seat head room and 37.9 inches of rear seat leg room. Opening the panoramic sunroof’s shade aids headroom slightly.

The cargo area provides 26.1 cubic feet of storage with the 60/40 rear seat up and 54.6 cubic feet with the rear seat down.

All-in-all, the 2011 Kia Sportage delivers compelling value in a crowded field. From its Audi-esque LED running lights through a ventilated drivers seat, the Sportage provides a host of standard and optional features that are unmatched at its price point.

Parts Content Information:
U.S./Canadian Parts Content: 1%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content:
Korea
Final Assembly Point:
Korea
Engine: Korea
Transmission: Korea

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9 comments ↓

#1 Owen on 01.03.11 at 6:35 pm

hey Dan! like your reviews a lot. just wondering, when a vehicle is available with front wheel drive or all wheel drive, you usually pick the all wheel drive version. just wondering why you pick the all wheel drive version?

#2 mpg-o-editor on 01.03.11 at 6:56 pm

Many thanks, Owen! It depends on what’s available in the manufacturer’s press fleet at any given time, although we prefer to test AWDs in the winter months. The AWD versions are almost always less fuel-efficient than the FWD versions.

#3 Jason Carpp on 01.09.11 at 2:10 pm

I wish I could say that I like the styling. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the truck-based Sportage. I also prefer more torque than what the engine puts out. I do like having a navigational computer and reverse camera, to help in reversing.

#4 greg on 01.17.11 at 3:36 am

Seems like some manufacturers barely squeek past their epa estimates (like Hyundai and Kia), while others pass their epa estimates (like Honda and Toyota) with relative ease. Why is this the case? Sometimes I just don’t trust the epa figures on a car and would rather see one of the car magazines or you do a review on a car before I would consider buying. Any input, Dan?

#5 mpg-o-editor on 01.17.11 at 10:02 am

@greg – Excellent question … If all goes as planned, we’ll eclipse the 100 review mark at some point this year. A pattern began to emerge along the way to this milestone. While the vehicles from some manufacturers were fairly accurately rated, others appear to be under-rated when driven conservatively.

Some vehicles have more upside potential than others, when driven in real-world conditions. The manufacturers that have under-rated their vehicles are setting expectations properly. When a vehicle delivers better than advertised numbers, it brings increased owner satisfaction. If a vehicle struggles to hit its numbers (as can happen with less-than optimal traffic and other conditions), owners can become dissatisfied. Much of this comes down to the owners willingness conscientiously drive the vehicle with efficiency in mind. Unfortunately, most folks won’t bother …

#6 John Q on 04.20.11 at 3:11 pm

been looking to buy a vehicle. been reading a lot of reviews and this is the first time i have decided to comment. this is more for all site not just yours but most auto reviews offer nothing the user cant look at a spec sheet and deduce. you drove the vehicle 300 miles then tell me about it. was it quiet if so compared to what. how was he ride. would you but it. was it as comfortable at the end as it was when you started. come help us perspective buyers out

#7 mpg-o-editor on 04.21.11 at 7:00 am

@John Q – Many thanks for the feedback and suggestions! Our reviews are a unique combination of video and written article. Folks need to both watch and read both to gain the full benefit of our experience with each vehicle. Our unique focus on fuel efficiency demonstrates the gas-saving potential for light-footed drivers. We delve into detail on items that may be listed – as a number – on spec sheets: the type of fuel economy gauges, how many levels of seat heating, what type of lumbar support, where are the 12-volt outlets and audio inputs.

We will be documenting sound levels in the near future.

The “would you buy it” factor is highly subjective. Everyone has their own personal needs. Personally, I have no need for a SUV … but lots of folks do. Comfort can be subjective, as well … everyone’s butt is shaped differently. 😉 That said, I have a preference for seats with four-way lumbar support, beefy bolsters, and at least two-way seat heating. Folks should watch/read a bunch of reviews, then go Try The Car On at a car show (if possible) before having to deal with the dealers …

#8 Lyda K on 10.06.12 at 7:42 am

I have a 2011 Sportage that I bought in the summer of 2010. My driving history consists of a blend of highway and in-town mileage so I have consistently gotten around 22-23 mpg. Recently (last 6 months) my driving pattern has shifted to in-town mileage. I noticed a SHARP decline in mpg to the tune of 15-17 mpg. I complained to the Kia service dept and they blamed it on the high ethonal level in COSTCO gas. I switched to other gas stations to see if this is true and Kia’s explanation doesn’t hold up. I am consistently getting 15-17 mpg in town. I am very conscientious of my acceleration patterns and watch for the “eco” light to illuminate when I drive. In otherwords, I am not a lead footer. I am sorely disappointed in the gas mileage and have been reviewing the lawsuit won in small claims court by the California woman against Honda for this same complaint. Any other dissatisfied owners out there?

#9 Bob D on 04.17.14 at 6:56 am

I am driving my second KIA Sportage. My first, in 2011, was broad-sided with 4 passengers in the car and no one was hurt. Pretty amazing since the other car was travelling roughly 40 MPH at impact. So I then bought the 2012 SX model and am completely satisfied. I live a mile down a dirt/rock filled road and thought by now that there would be rattles and squeaks from the rough ride. But it’s holding up remarkably well. Have 26,000 miles on it and love it. (Bought (4) aggressive tread snow tires and never once got stuck in the snow.) I will buy a newer model once the new body design comes out.

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