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.
Its 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.
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?