Okay, so I’ve been a little lazy posting to the Review Journal. I have no excuse… please don’t hurt me! I also haven’t been able to get any good pictures of the Sportage, as it has been raining quite a bit here.

Now I’ll be absolutely honest, the Sportage is very nice, but I’m struggling to love it. I like it, but I’m not sure that I like it enough.

The competition, the Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4, are priced similarly, but have a lot more room inside than the Sportage does. However, the Sportage is good looking, and not once have I been embarrassed to drive it. The CR-V, I wouldn’t want to drive it as a straight man without a family. And the Rav4, well, it’s a Toyota, and I’m not too fond of the way most Toyota products look, feel, drive and act. They’re in a similar boat with how I felt about Kias when I sold them: They were crap. They’re not bad products, they just have no taste or style. Argue all you want, and if you disagree, that’s fine. I don’t really care. They make a hell of a product that lasts a life time. But most people that buy ‘yotas just want a car that gets them from point a to point b safely, with good gas mileage and be comfortable. So if you think I’m wrong, don’t, because I know I’m right.

Okay, anyway. Back to what I was on about. All three cars can be equipped with navigation, back-up cameras, satellite radio, etc. In fact, the Rav4 even has Hill Descent, like the Kia, except only when you’re optioning a V6 or a third row seat. Win for the Kia. But while the Kia is good, the Rav4 does it all, too, and with an optional third row. But it’s ugly. You see, the Kia has a good style and presence when driving on the road. On the other two cars you get a 4-cylinder like the Kia, while the Toyota can be optioned with a V6. The Kia doesn’t really do anything that the others don’t already do. The Sportage does tow 2,000 lbs with the trailer package, whereas the Honda only tows 1,500 lbs. The Toyota, though, can tow 3,500 lbs with a towing package. Damn you, Toyota! You’re taking away from me being able to recommend and love this car…

The good news is, the Kia Sportage does get the same gas mileage, and better mileage than the Rav4’s V6 model. But… the Sportage needs a V6 option. You see, it’s quite a good car to drive, a little too tightly sprung at times on the highway, but it’s hard to move it out of its own way when driving at highway speeds. Also, getting out in front of traffic much? Yeah, not gonna happen in this car.

You see, I really like driving it. The leather is supple; the driving position is good. You don’t feel like you’re driving a girly SUV, it’s too manly feeling and looking. The navigation works great, and the iPod adapter is one of the best and easiest ones I’ve ever used. The back-up camera helps, but it’s too dark during most driving conditions. And at night, you might as well forget it, because it doesn’t have enough light back there to show you much, if anything.

The steering is also a big let down. It’s great at low speeds, but once you get on the highway, it stiffens WAY too much. It gets quite annoying that every little input feels more like you’re making an emergency lane change.

Good news, though, the brakes are really fantastic. They’ll stop you very well in any condition. I’ve driven the Sportage on snow and ice, and it’s been very easy to control and manage no matter the surface. I’d love it if it weren’t for those pesky Japanese cars…