The original Kia Sportage was one of the vehicles that led the Korean automaker's initial charge into the American market. Those early SUVs (they were body-on-frame back then) were inexpensive and honest, but that's about the best thing you could say about them. After a near brush with extinction, Kia is a very different kind of automaker today. Like the rest of the company's recent introductions, the Sportage features crisp, aggressive styling that won't leave you embarrassed to be seen in one.
The new Sportage actually had its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show early this month, but the New York Auto Show is considered the crossover's U.S. coming out party, even though it actually showed up at the Atlanta show just recently. Like sister brand Hyundai's new Tucson, the American-spec model gets a new 176 horsepower variable valve timing 2.4-liter inline-four that beats the power and efficiency of the old 2.7-liter V6 with the buyer's choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions.
Later in the 2011 model year, the Sportage will finally get some real sport when it gets the new 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct injected inline four that's going into the Optima and Hyundai Sonata. A snazzy looking, 274 hp Sportage? What is this world coming to?