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First Test: 2011 Kia Sportage SX


Kia's on a roll. A fleet of new vehicles clothed in the latest Peter Schreyer fashion now leaves no visible evidence of platform sharing with sister brand Hyundai. Savvy packaging, class-competitive drivetrains, and soaring quality and reliability ratings have helped boost the brand's market share by 48 percent since 2008. Even more impressively, Kia's once pitiful bargain-basement residual values have climbed 38 percent on average, making leasing an attractive option. Now, at long bloody last, the company is getting serious about providing some sporting cred to back up its sporting looks.

 Henceforth when you see the letters SX emblazoned on the rump of a Kia, you can expect to find performance enhancements to go along with the slightly more aggressive fascias and trim that visually distinguish SX models from their lesser brethren, including a healthy dose of vitamins H and T under the hood and/or a bit more starch in the suspension. Heretofore the SX designation has simply signified top-of-the-line trim, options, and features. That tradition continues.

 Perhaps the best example is the freshly minted KIA SPORTAGE SX cute-ute. Under the hood is a version of the Optima's impressive direct-injected, twin-scroll-turbocharged 2.0-liter Theta II engine bolted to a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic and your choice of front- or all-wheel-drive. Due to differences in exhaust packaging, heat management and tuning to suit the SUV's duty cycle, the KIA SPORTAGE turbo is rated at 260 horsepower and 269 pound-feet. That's 14 hp less than the KIA OPTIMA turbo, but it's 90 horses more than you can get in any other KIA SPORTAGE (the KIA OPTIMA and KIA SORENTO SX engines are also available on lesser trim grades).

(Source)


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