2011 Kia Sportage Expert Review

You'll Like The 2011 Kia Sportage If...

If you're on a modest budget, but still want all the capability, space and comfort that a compact SUV can provide, the 2011 Kia Sportage has a low entry price and an impressive list of standard features. Also, some may find its distinct looks more attractive than those of the Sportage's competitors.

You May Not Like The 2011 Kia Sportage If...

The 2011 Kia Sportage SUV's styling makes it stand out among competitors, but it is polarizing. Those looking for something more subtle may find themselves more attracted to the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.

What's New

The 2011 Kia Sportage all-new this year, with a new look, new in-cabin technology and a new 4-cylinder that's standard across the board (with the single exception of the turbo 2.0-liter in the SX trim), with no V6 offered. Offered in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (awd) versions, the 2011 Sportage also includes a multitude of segment firsts on its list of standard features.

Interior Features

The sporty design of the 2011 Kia Sportage carries over to the interior, which incorporates sharp edges and an overall futuristic feel. That's not to say that it's not functional, though. The rear seat can be easily folded to increase the cargo volume from 26.1 cubic feet to a more generous 54.6, which is much smaller than that of the Honda CR-V's 72.9, but that compact SUV doesn't have the same sense of style. Cloth seating surfaces are standard, while leather comes with an option package, as does the panoramic sunroof. Two things we must mention about the panoramic sunroof though: Only the front section slides open, and both sections are shielded by manually opened covers.

Exterior Features

The 2011 Kia Sportage's design is a far cry from the model it replaces. Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer (known for his work on the current Audi TT), brought the Sportage back to the drawing board and completely revamped its styling, incorporating shapelier lines and edges, sweeping angles and a higher beltline. The result is some serious unique styling, with a sharply angled headlights and a large grille up front, sloping side character lines and high-placed taillights, all of which give the Sportage SUV an aggressive stance and a look that sets it apart from almost anything else on the road.

Driving Impressions

Aesthetics aside, the compact crossover SUV's driving dynamics are what put the "sport" in Sportage. With both the front-drive and awd forms, we found that in comparison to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, the Kia Sportage rides a little stiff, and while this compromises highway comfort it makes up for it in the corners. Add in some well-weighted steering (although not razor sharp), and it's clear that Sportage is definitely the sportiest compact SUV in its class. The 2.4-liter and 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines that motivate the Sportage both offer ample power in any driving situation, with our favorite being the latter turbocharged variant found in the Sportage SX. The 2.4-liter is more than capable in climbing steep hills and handling quick passing maneuvers, but the turbocharged 2.0-liter adds a new level of driving fun.

Pricing Notes

The 2011 Kia Sportage SUV comes with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $19,000. Stepping up to the LX trim level adds about $1,000 to the price, with the EX trim coming in at around $23,000. The turbocharged SX trim starts at around $26,000, but when it's topped with every option, that price can creep up to the near-$30,000 mark. A look at the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com shows what others are paying for the Kia Sportage in your area, so be sure to check it out before you buy. As for residuals, we expect that the Kia Sportage won't hold its value as well as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 SUVs, but it will be on par with that of the Nissan Rogue and Jeep Compass.

Notable Equipment

The 2011 Kia Sportage is offered in four front-wheel-drive trim levels: base, LX, EX and SX, with all-wheel drive available across the board. Standard equipment across all trim levels is air conditioning, power accessories, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a rear under-floor storage compartment, and a satellite-radio-equipped audio system with four speakers. Some notable standard features that come with the EX and SX trims include Kia's UVO infotainment system, back-up warning system, push-button start, a cooling glovebox, and auto-climate control.

Notable Options

All of the options available for the 2011 Kia Sportage come in the form of packages. Some noteworthy highlights of the Sportage option packages include a navigation system, heated front seats, a cooled driver's seat, a panoramic sunroof, and a premium audio system with a subwoofer.

Favorite Features

Panoramic sunroof
More sun equates to more fun and this dual-section sunroof lets the rear-seat occupants stare at the wonders above.

2.0-liter turbocharged engine
Found in the Sportage SX, the 260-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine makes the car surprisingly quick and a lot more fun to drive.

Under the Hood

The 2011 Kia Sportage's new 2.4-liter engine is more powerful and fuel efficient than the engine it replaces, and the turbocharged 2.0-liter is a welcomed replacement for the previous V6. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which delivers impressive fuel-economy numbers and can shifted manually. A 6-speed manual transmission is available, but only on the base trim level.

2.4-liter in-line-four
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (manual), 170 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (automatic)
168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (manual), 163 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (FWD, manual), 22/31 (FWD, Auto), 20/27 (AWD, manual), 21/28 (AWD, auto)

2.0-liter turbocharged in-line-four
260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850 - 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (FWD), 21/26 (AWD)

Editors' Notes

The Kia Sportage is the brand's longest-running nameplate and despite this, the Sportage SUV has mostly gone unnoticed in the minds of shoppers in the compact utility vehicle segment. Overshadowed by more well-known names like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, Kia's crossover was mainly considered for its low entry-price but not always held in the highest regard. For 2011, Kia hopes that its all-new Sportage will change some minds, and while the all-new-for-2011 Kia Sportage might not exactly be a game changer, it sure ups the ante in terms of style, in-cabin technology and overall value.

Road Test Video Reviews

  • 2011 Kia Sportage Review - Kelley Blue Book
  • 2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD Walkaround, Start up, Tour and Overview
  • Kia Sportage SUV review - CarBuyer
  • Redesigned! - 2011 Kia Sportage Review
  • 2011 Kia Sportage Review
  • 2011 kia sportage review : Crossover, our favorite vehicle segment

Owner Reviews


88 Reviews

51% 36% 10% 1% 1%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

It's a sporty car that has been reliable. Having a backup camera and GPS is a plus

The style is nice, I like sporty looking cars. the gas mileage is okay - it could be better. The original tires are not good tires for the snow so I had to buy winter tires. I've had to replace all the shocks, I'm not sure why they went bad. I have had issues with the push start. When I told the dealer they just said bring it in when it does that - right how can you do that if it doesn't start. There was a recall on the vehicle and it seems to have fixed it. I love the camera and gps in it. My suv came with a spoiler on it, and when I saw there was a crack in it, Maguire's the dealer refused to replace it.It's not a real smooth ride, or a pick up and go vehicle, but you won't know the difference if you have not had a luxury car before. I like the seat warmer and the electric driver seat. It has a sunroof which is nice. Overall it's been a pretty reliable car. I have 61,000 miles on mine and no major issues. I did have to replace the battery, but it was 7 years old. I just couldn't handle the cold weather here in NY

- Ann F

Overall reliable Kia for the safety of my son and family!

My car has been pretty dependable except for the last few years in the summer my gear shift would not switch out of park, and it would happen only in winter. I took my car to a Kia dealership and they couldn't figure it out. So in dealt with it as eventually the car would switch out of gear- and there would be the traction control light that would come on. After this last summer I almost had it until a friend who is car savvy googled the problem and found the solution, which was a small cheap piece that went behind my brakes that was messed up causing my car to act the way it was. Now, I am happy that my car is reliable and drivable without having to worry.

- Sarah C

Kia Sportage 2011- reliable family car.

Car is very durable. I performed well through all seasons. However during winter months the car would lose traction easily. Size matters. For my family of 4 it was a decent sized midsize SUV. Foot space for both the front and back rows are fairly spacious. Now a family of 5 we will be searching for a bigger car. Kia has always been my go to make for cars. The repairs are not done as easily as other car makes but it has always been reliable. I was attracted to this car because of how compact yet spacious it is. It sits high like a SUV but is a perfect size for someone small like me (5'2").

- Marie O