When Kia introduced its revised Sportage, in 2005, one of the first things the company wanted everyone to know was that this model had nothing in common with its predecessor. Although the original Sportage - for all its faults - was one of the vehicles that put Kia on the map in North America, you got the distinct feeling that the South Korean company really wanted to put some distance between the two models.
The new generation of Sportage also shared just about everything with its corporate stable-mate, the Hyundai Tucson. Same drivetrain, same platform, same interior layout. Interestingly, the Sportage and Tucson went mano-a-mano in the compact SUV marketplace, and other rivals for buyers' affections included the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-trail.
Base engine was a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder powerplant that developed 140 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 136 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. There was also an optional V-6 that put out 173 horses at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. Transmission choices were a five-speed manual and Steptronic four-speed automatic.
You could get the '05 Sportage in either conventional front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations, and the all-wheel-drive system was of the "slip-and-grip" variety: four sensors monitor road conditions and when things start to get unstable, the AWD system cuts in.
During normal driving, power is directed to the front wheels, but when you put the pedal to the metal or wheel slippage is detected, the system basically splits power distribution roughly in half between the front and back driving wheels. There was also a 4WD Lock setting, accessed through a dash-mounted button.
This wasn't a down-and-dirty 4WD system, but it would get you through the rough patches. To quote Kia's own sales training guide, the 4WD Lock setting came in handy when descending a sharp hill off-road, driving through sand or pulling a boat out of a marina. The AWD versions had slightly beefier rear suspension components than the regular 2WD models.
Inside, the Sportage featured a "Fold And Dive" seating arrangement, wherein both the second-row seats and front buckets could be folded completely flat. Total interior cargo space was 1,886 litres, and for some strange reason, the virtually identical Hyundai Tucson had 1,856 litres.
This particular SUV wasn't designed to set the world on fire through the twisties or over the Rubicon off-road rally, but for the market it was aimed at - young families and first-time buyers - it has proven to be a brisk seller for Kia.
That said, the four-cylinder engine version lacked the necessary oomph to propel the Sportage with any kind of authority, and, all things considered, the V-6 version was the better choice of the two.
One thing that was much improved over the previous version was the Sportage's assembly quality: snug-fitting body panels, a well-co-ordinated, rattle-free interior layout and an overall feeling of solidity - a far cry from the Sportage of old.
In 2005, the Sportage had a starting price of under $20,000, even if it was by only five bucks, and you got a fair bit of car for the money. Standard equipment included six airbags, anti-locking brakes, a traction control system, power windows and door locks, cruise control, CD player, and 16-inch wheels. If you stepped up to a fully-loaded EX-V6, you got goodies like air conditioning, leather interior and heated front seats.
Despite its re-engineering, the '05 Sportage has had three safety recalls from Transport Canada. One for an unreliable hand-brake, another for a sketchy electronic stability control system (ESC), and the third for a flawed fuel filler neck that may prevent the vehicle from being gassed up properly.
The U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has these three on file as well as 18 technical service bulletins, covering everything from possible cold weather starting issues, to faulty exterior lighting, to problems with the aforementioned ESP system. These bulletins also apply to the Hyundai Tucson.
Kind of a mixed bag from Consumer Reports for the '05 Sportage. While this organization gives it an "average" rating for predicted reliability, it does take issue with the fuel system and drivetrain and seems to have a problem with the climate control system. Things get better by 2007.
Market research firm J.D. Power, meanwhile, is equally lukewarm. While there don't seem to be any glaring issues, there aren't any stand-out areas.
It gives this vintage of Sportage a slightly above-average rating for dependability.
All things considered, a four-year-old Sportage has held onto its value quite well. From a low of about $8,000 for a base 2WD LX, it fetches up to around $16,000 for a loaded V-6 with AWD, according to the Canadian Black and Red Books.
2005 Kia Sportage
Type: Five-passenger compact SUV
Original Base Price: $19,995; Black Book Value: $11,600-$16,350; Red Book Value: $7,775-$10,875
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder/2.7 litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 140 hp/136 lb-ft for four
173 hp/178 lb-ft for V-6
Transmission: Four-speed automatic/five-speed manual
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.6 city/7.8 highway (2.0-litre with manual transmission); regular gas
Alternatives: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Suzuki Grand Vitara