Kia Conquers New York

2011 Kia Sportage

Our recent post on the Nissan Juke brought forth mostly catcalls and jeers. So what do you critics think of the restyled Kia Sportage? Maybe it’s a bit more conventional?

Kia is clearly on a roll with its four new offerings, including the Forte Five-Door (very positive recent review here of the Forte Koup, seen in New York last year). And that great hip hamsters ad won Automotive Ad of the Year.

New for 2011, the Sportage is bigger than in past years, wears a new exterior, an upgraded interior, and sports a DOHC 2.4-liter four (176 hp; mileage not specified). A more powerful turbo is due this summer.

You can buy it in LX or EX versions with all the usual goodies. A six-speed manual is standard in all cars; you can order the automatic with sport-shift controls in the all-wheel-drive version.

2011 Kia OptimaIts looks clearly relate to the new 2011 Kia Optima, also on display in New York. Clearly a big improvement in styling over the present car, the new Optima moves Kia down the mass-market path, but with a difference. It has three trim packages and a 2.4-liter, 200-hp four, with a 274-hp turbo option coming. So is a hybrid version.

Now, in the most important news of all, the great Kia Soul hamster ad won the best car TV ad of the year award, given by Nielsen Automotive. We’ve shown you this before, but it’s worth seeing again.

The company has consistently bucked the trends of sameness and blandness in car design, and that seems to be paying off. As South Korea’s second-largest carmaker (owned by affiliate Hyundai, the largest), Kia just reported March sales up 55 percent from a year ago.

That is quite an amazing feat in an economy like this.

What would it take to make your next car a Kia?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Kia Sportage
Used Kia Optima
Used Kia Soul


  1. Absolutely nothing. Had a 2006 Sportage, trouble free, sold it to my niece who has driven it for 2 years, trouble free. I will most likely buy another at some point, but my only concern continues to be massive depreciation of their product. Until they and parent Hyundai take steps to stop the resale price from falling, they will never get the respect they deserve.

    With Hyundai pushing the high end Genesis and Equus, we may be seeing that happen right now. I believe that at some point soon, both companies will start focusing on improving the product lines rather than introducing new models every 18 months which fuels the depreciation scenario that I laid out above.

  2. I’d buy a Kia now. Five years ago, not a chance. The brand was still a joke in my mind (probably due to the miserable Rio I had as a loaner for 2 months.)
    Now though, I have family members who own newer Kias and with the new designs and proven reliability, I’d be willing to take the leap if I found a certain model that met all my needs.

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