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You'll Like The 2008 Kia Sportage If...

If you're on a modest budget but don't want to give up comfort or convenience, you'll appreciate Kia's approach to the compact SUV segment. And, while its V6 engine produces little more power than Honda's in-line four, you'll appreciate the V6's smoothness with every tip of the accelerator.

You May Not Like The 2008 Kia Sportage If...

If you're an individual who cherishes an established nameplate, Kia (despite dramatic sales growth) lacks the long history of some other brands. And though Kia has definitely made strides versus segment leaders from Toyota and Honda, the Sportage might be a shade down from them in product refinement.

What's New

No major changes for 2008.

Interior Features

Most Sportage prospects will be pleased by its interior, combining real functionality with a number of upscale touches. The Korean car industry has embraced quality plastics, with an almost quantum improvement in both appearance and texture. The attractive cloth upholstery gives an impression of comfort and durability. The instrument panel has easy-to-read gauges and the center-mounted cluster has controls that are easily identified and appropriately ergonomic. Adding to the upscale appeal are aluminized accents on both the instrument and door panels. Seating position is appropriately upright and, while the standard sunroof encroaches slightly on rear-seat headroom, most adults will find either front or rear seating to be generous. As with most compact SUVs, the fifth passenger's area, in the center of the rear seat, is somewhat marginal.

Exterior Features

The 2008 Kia Sportage represents a dramatic departure from the original Sportage design, which was discontinued in 2002. Today's Sportage wears a curvaceous, almost organic look, with a get-up-and-go attitude accentuated by short overhangs, a relatively wide track, ample tires (235/60-16 all-season radials) and generous headroom. The hatch features an opening window for convenience. A dual exhaust system with chrome tips accentuates the Sportage's SUV intensions.

Driving Impressions

Kia's product team has hit the sweet spot in achieving a ride and handling balance completely appropriate to the target consumer. With a curb weight of roughly 3,400 pounds, the 2008 Kia Sportage is no lightweight. That fairly substantial heft is reflected in a feeling of solidity from the unit body structure. Suspension settings are biased toward comfort and the steering provides some appreciated feedback. The V6 engine, while offering two more cylinders than the 2008 Honda CR-V (Toyota offers a V6 with its RAV4), doesn't seem any more responsive than the Honda when connected to the standard four-speed automatic. We'd view the Sportage's on-road demeanor as creditable, although not entertaining, but, for an SUV, being creditable is more important.

Pricing Notes

The 2008 Kia Sportage LX, equipped with two-wheel drive, a four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission, has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $17,000. The EX, with V6, four-speed automatic and four-wheel drive, is close to $23,500. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. It shows the typical transaction price others have paid for the 2008 Kia Sportage in your area. Also be aware that, despite one of the industry's best warranties, a Kia will not offer the return on investment in the form of resale value enjoyed by Honda or Toyota owners. The Sportage does, however, retain values similar to the Jeep Compass, Dodge Nitro and Ford Escape.

Notable Equipment

Kia's tagline, "The Power to Surprise," is abundantly evident when viewing the Sportage's window sticker. A high level of standard equipment is part of Kia's core strategy. Available in either LX or EX variants, the Sportage enjoys an almost opulent level of equipment, especially considering its price range. Young families concerned with safety will appreciate the Electronic Stability Control (ESC), traction control (TCS) and, at the EX level, a tire pressure monitoring system. Audiophiles will enjoy an AM/FM/CD system with six speakers -- EX models enjoy MP3-compatibility. Privacy side glass is standard across the board, while a sunroof is included on the EX at no additional charge. Finally, while we wish the roof rails offered more than the stated 100-pound capacity, they are included in the base window sticker price as standard equipment.

Notable Options

With all that is standard the customer is left with little to add. The less-expensive LX gives the customer more variables, although many of those would be dealer-installed. On the EX, a Luxury Package includes body-colored bumpers, leather seats and trim, heated front seats, automatic headlamps and a six-disc CD changer, amplifier and subwoofer.

Favorite Features

Distinctive Design

The Sportage's distinctive design is modern, clean and attractive. In an era of generic styling emanating from many Asian studios, it's refreshing to see something truly distinctive without the carmaker resorting to "shock and awe."

Quality Interior Appointments

Kia has made great strides in quality, with improved plastics and upholstery throughout the lineup. On top of improved quality is true utility, with easy ingress and egress and a fold-flat rear seat that provides real stowage capability.

Under the Hood

The base LX utilizes a fairly conventional (for the category) 2.0 liter in-line four, while the EX benefits from the 2.7 liter DOHC V6. It, along with the Hyundai Tucson and Ford Escape, were among the first to offer six-cylinder power in the compact utility category. We were not overly impressed by the responsiveness of the V6; it will meet consumer expectations, but we don't believe it will exceed them. The four-cylinder should be reserved for light duty only -- no full loads, light towing and little exposure to work at high altitudes.

2.0-liter in-line 4

140 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 (2WD, manual), 19/25 (2WD, automatic), 19/24 (4WD, manual)

2.7-liter V6

173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

178 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD, automatic), 17/21 (4WD, automatic)

Editors' Notes

Those who remember the original Sportage SUV probably won't recognize the current model. Gone are the body-on-frame architecture, somewhat harsh ride and moderate engine power. The 2008 Kia Sportage derives its underpinnings from a car platform to give it a smooth ride, improved handling and better crash-test results. The trade-off is an inability to tackle the harshest sorts of off-road terrain (the Sportage lacks a high/low transfer case and locking differentials), but heavy snow and mud are still easily managed. And, while the humble Sportage must contend with perennial favorites, such as the Honda CR-V and Jeep Liberty, many people will find its low price and long list of standard features quite tempting.

Road Test Video Reviews

2008 Kia Sportage Owner Reviews

89 Reviews
34% 45% 17% 2% 1 star 0%
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It is fun and easy to drive. A great car for someone who doesn't want something with all the bells and whistles, but wants something dependable and uncomplicated.

2008 Kia Sportage

I love the size (compact SUV). It's really fun and easy to drive with a great turn radius. It just feels GREAT driving it, whereas my first car drove like a truck and was much more difficult to drive. I didn't know driving didn't have to be so difficult (like with my first car) until I got this car; what a relief! It fits all my needs perfectly, without adding unnecessary bells and whistles that would have driven up the price. A small detail, but I love the hook it has for purses in the passenger side- very handy! I love the color of my vehicle (forest green) and the overall look of the car. I think it doesn't stand out too much so that I can be easily identified on the road if someone meant me harm, but I like that the look and color is still unique enough that I don't look like everyone else on the road. I love the shape and position of the drink holders. It does have really bad blind spots in my opinion, which I didn't realize until after I bought it. I also wish I could put my elbow on the arm rest while I'm driving like in other cars, but the armrest in the middle is too short. Overall I am very happy with it though.

- Mariel T

Reliable. Decent gas mileage. Spacious. All in all wonderful.

2008 Kia Sportage LX Sport

Before my Kia Sportage, I drove a low sitting car. I much prefer the Sportage. It is spacious not only when it comes to seating space, but also trunk space as well. It got about 25, maybe a little more, miles to the gallon which is pretty decent for a smaller SUV. I have had little to no issues with the vehicle since I purchased it 2+ years ago. The interior is pleasant to the eye and comfortable. The A/C is a dream as well. It's easily the most reliable vehicle I have purchased to this day. I don't think there's anything I don't love about it. The factory radio is a little outdated, even for the car's time, but that's such a trivial feature and it can be replaced with something more up to date. All in all it is a very wonderful car.

- Sierra M

Great vehicle!

2008 Kia Sportage

This is the first SUV I've owned and I'm very pleased with it. I got it a little over a year ago, for a good price, and haven't had any problems with it. It has higher mileage, over 160,000 but runs great. I like the interior and have no issues with that. We had a very snowy, long, and cold winter 2018/2010 and it was very reliable though I keep it in my garage. It gets pretty decent gas mileage. It also has a lot of zip and is easy to handle. The only thing I don't like about it, is that it's not 4 wheel drive which would be come in handy sometimes. I'll probably drive it until I run it into the ground and if I have to get another vehicle, I'd definitely like to get another one or at least Kia.

- Sue Gerber

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