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Car Review: 2013 Kia Sportage SX AWD

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There is no denying the Hollywood good looks of the 2013 KIA Sportage SX AWD, but can this crossover deliver on the road? After a week behind the wheel, there is no doubt that there’s so much more than just curb appeal to this sleek ride from KIA, with impressive power, outstanding fuel efficiency and loads of comfort and convenience features.

EXTERIOR

The 2013 Kia Sportage offers a high beltline, sweeping angles and pronounced wheel flares, conveying an indomitable road presence with an aggressive, hunkered-down stance. The full-sectioned body, defined by a spearing shoulder line throughout the length of the car, helps to visually connect the headlamps and tail lights. The crispness of this line, together with its lowered body, creates a distinct sense of precision while the pronounced C pillar conveys an air of solidity and balance when viewed from the side. Like all vehicles across the Kia lineup, the Sportage’s front end proudly displays the face of the brand’s signature tabbed grille and dramatic swept back headlamps. The dynamically sculpted hood, framed by a distinctive windshield design, adds to Sportage’s fresh appeal. The rear view offers a clean and contemporary look with dynamic tail lights set within the rear lift gate.

Our red test model was a top-of-the-line Sportage SX with a powerful yet fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI engine producing 260-horsepower, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust, sculpted side sill moldings and unique SX grille. One of the better looking exterior designs for a crossover regardless of price!

INTERIOR

The good looks carry over with ease into a modern and smart interior that has much more room that one might imagine. KIA has created an inviting and comfortable environment with a host of convenience and technology features in the 2013 KIA Sportage SX AWD. With the signature three-gauge instrument cluster set prominently within the dash, Sportage’s interior exudes a contemporary design and sporty driving experience.

An impressive collection of technology features come standard on the 2013 Sportage, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with available Sirius XM Satellite Radio and three months complimentary service, standard auxiliary and USB audio input jacks with MP3 capability, Bluetooth hands-free phone, and streaming audio connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls that allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

All Sportage models feature a long list of standard convenience features, including air conditioning, power windows with one-touch down functionality, electronically adjustable side mirrors, 12-volt power outlets in the passenger and cargo compartments, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and six-way adjustable front seats. Stylishly appointed cloth seats come standard and provide comfortable seating, while 60/40 split-folding rear seats effortlessly accommodate driver and passenger cargo needs. 2013 also brings a standard sun visor extender on all trims for increased driver and passenger comfort.

Moving up to the SX trim that we tested, the Premium Package included heated front seats, air-cooled driver’s seat, auto-dimming mirror with Homelink, heated side mirrors, a cargo cover and a panoramic sunroof. The SX trim is also available with the voice-activated navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic data.

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PERFORMANCE

I must say that the performance and handling of the 2013 KIA Sportage SX AWD took me a bit by surprise. The SX as tested boasted a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI engine mated with the six-speed automatic transmission, offering increased output of 260 horsepower with Sportmatic clutchless shifting. Lower and wider than the previous generation vehicle, Sportage’s design and dimensions (overall length: 174.8 inches; overall width: 73 inches; wheelbase: 103.9 inches) contribute to optimal driver visibility as well as outstanding handling characteristics. Built on a unibody platform, Sportage employs independent front and rear suspension systems with MacPherson high performance struts in the front fine-tuned to improve driving feel and stability, while new side-load coil springs reduce friction. A multi-link rear suspension featuring new high-performance dampers and coil springs are mounted separately to minimize cabin intrusion and enhance Sportage’s handling characteristics.

The handling is enhanced with these technologies, as there are some sedans that can’t perform as well as the Sportage! With ample NVH reduction measures in place, the advanced suspension design provides a comfortable ride, while also offering dynamic handling characteristics and increased responsiveness. The suspension is mounted on lightweight, hydro-formed subframes to help isolate occupants from road irregularities, while the increased use of high tensile strength steel helps to reduce vehicle weight, improve stability and reduce vibration.

OVERVIEW

There are some vehicles that just have that “it” factor from the first time you take a look, and the 2013 KIA Sportage SX AWD falls into that category. There are really no major drawbacks with this crossover, especially at a starting price of under $20,000 and around $27,000 for the upscale and sporty SX model we tested.

We were also impressed with Kia’s UVO powered by Microsoft voice-activated infotainment system, which improves connectivity and convenience by enabling drivers and passengers to speak via hands-free phone, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences, all with voice activation. KIA has a lot to be proud of in the Sportage and there are plenty of new, satisfied owners that will undoubtedly agree!

  

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