$3,587 - $5,091

2009 Kia Sportage Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Kia Sportage was new.


Performance: 6.9

Most test drivers find the Sportage's base four-cylinder engine on the sluggish side. But car-like handling and a more powerful V6 option lead many reviewers to praise the Sportage's performance.

  • "We'd view the Sportage's on-road demeanor as creditable, although not entertaining, but, for an SUV, being creditable is more important." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The optional four-wheel drive is so-so. It allowed some wheelspin and slithering on full-throttle starts in heavy rain. But it fairly quickly compensated and stabilized the Sportage. And it has a lock button that ensures power to front and back wheels, regardless." -- USA Today
  • "Available in two trim levels, LX and EX, the Kia Sportage offers the kind of performance and refinement usually associated with the small SUVs from Japanese automakers." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Sportage comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 140 horsepower, but most reviewers find it sluggish. Also available is a 2.7-liter V6 engine with 173 horsepower that test drivers tend to prefer. According to the EPA, 2WD models with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission achieve 20/25 mpg city/highway. Those with the V6 achieve 18/23 mpg.

  • "Four-cylinder models are fine for light-duty commuting, but lack enough power for confident highway merging and passing. We recommend a V6 model, though they're no fireballs, only matching the performance of a 4-cylinder Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The automatic transmission is responsive enough with either engine, though not even the V6 has abundant passing punch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "But compared to rivals, the Sportage's power plants are both down on power -- the V6 makes only 173 horsepower, not much more than competitors' four cylinders. Furthermore, the Kia must make do with a four-speed automatic, while some other compact SUVs offer five-speed automatics." -- Edmunds
  • "The 4-cylinder is okay for city driving, but has no surplus of power on highways. The V6 provides lively acceleration in town and on the highway, at least with only a driver aboard." -- MSN

Handling and Braking

The Sportage's independent front and rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering contribute to a car-like ride and nimble handling.

  • "Sportage is among the best-riding compact SUVs. It is composed around town, with little unwanted bounding or pitching, though some testers feel Sportage is slightly less absorbent over sharp bumps than its sibling Tucson." -- Consumer Guide
  • The Sportage has four-wheel-independent suspension, so the ride over pothole-ridden streets is reasonably comfortable and the tires stay in contact with the road. Despite the inclusion of stabilizer bars, front and rear, body roll is moderate." -- Cars.com
  • "On the road, the 2009 Kia Sportage provides a carlike ride and relatively nimble handling that makes it a little more fun to drive than some other compact crossover SUVs. It's both a decent city runabout and a serviceable long-distance highway cruiser." -- Edmunds

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