Northwest NEWS

April 10, 2000

Features

Test Drive: 2000 Kia Sportage 4-door

2000 Kia Sportage   "Affordable" describes the 4-wheel drive, 4-door, 5-passenger 2000 Kia Sportage. New in the marketplace in 1995, this sport-utility vehicle has won awards for best buy.

   You can buy the Sportage in a two-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive. Both are available in the two trim levels, Sportage and Sportage EX.

   With the sports utility look, the Sportage has a wide front grille and boxy design. The front bumper is large; there are clear-lens headlights and tail lights and a stainless steel muffler. Powered by a 130hp, 2.0-liter, dual overhead cam engine with fuel injection, the 16-valve engine has127 ft.-lb. of peak torque at 4,000rpm.

   My test model came with a five-speed manual transmission, but a four-speed automatic transmission is optional. Kia has augmented the transmission in all four-wheel-drive models with a two-speed transfer case for off-road use.

   The 11.10-inch vented front disc brakes are fitted with large calipers and the rear drum brakes are 10.23 inches. The computer-controlled four-wheel ABS is optional.

   I used the Sportage to haul boxes and found the 25.8 cubic feet of cargo space adequate. When the rear seat is folded down, there is 55.4 cubic feet of space.

   The Sportage has a tilt steering wheel and large, easy-to-read gauges and controls. There are large air conditioning vents on the dash. The cupholder is designed for various sizes of containers.

   The factory-installed AM/FM/CD audio system has six speakers, including dash-mounted tweeters. The rear speaker enclosure is a two-way unit.

   New this year are a driver's foot rest and a sliding armrest in the center console, which can be locked in the forward position. The armrest is adjustable and has a storage space.

   The Sportage has dual airbags and an exclusive driver-side knee airbag. A leather upholstery package is available with full-leather seat coverings. There are large garment hooks for carrying clothing.

   I found that opening the back cargo area involved having a hand free to release the lock on the spare tire carrier. Once released, the tire assembly swings easily away to the left, and provides a wide opening to the cargo area. To put the spare tire assembly back in place, you have to release the lock again and move it in place.

   Child-safety door locks on the rear doors are standard on all Sportages.

   Ground clearance is 7.9 inches for off-road, but there is a low step-in height above its P205/75R15 steel-belted radial tires. For four-wheel-drive, there are vacuum-operated front hubs. The hubs automatically disengage when the driver shifts out of four-wheel drive. The hubs do not require stopping and backing up and eliminate the requirement of manual hubs for towing.

   The Sportage has standard power door locks, power windows, dual remote power mirrors, rear window defroster, variable intermittent windshield wipers, tachometer, and digital clock.

   The Kia Sportage is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic limited vehicle warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. All Kia owners have the Extra-Mile Care with 24-hour roadside assistance for the length of the basic limited warranty.

2000 Kia Sportage