kia sportageImagine this: It’s Christmas morning, and as you stand at your kitchen sink sipping your first cup of steaming java, you glance across the yard to see a silver Kia Sportage in your driveway, a bright red bow on its roof. Then it hits you: it’s in your driveway. Something on the kitchen counter catches your eye. A key fob. A key fob emblazoned with a KIA logo. Your heart begins to pound–you’ve never gotten a car for Christmas before.But as you take the key in hand and grab your jacket, husband and kids grinning ear to ear, cameras flashing and videos whirring, there’s a sudden sinking feeling in your stomach: will you really like this car? Or will you just have to act like you do so this gift horse doesn’t KICK you in the mouth?

Push button startThe Kia Sportage’s smart key and push button ignitionWith a click of the Kia’s remote, its lights flash and doors unlock, and you slide into the driver’s seat. A fragrance envelops you: not just new car smell, but leather new car smell. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good in your hands. You inspect the key fob for the key so you can start the car, but find no actual key. This car has a smart key and push button ignition. You push the start button and the Kia rumbles awake, soft bongs emit from the dashboard, instruments light up in blue and red, and the infotainment screen comes to life. You realize, as you sit in the car, morning sunlight streaming through the panoramic sun roof, that you’re surrounded in modern, luxurious, sporty comfort. So far, hubby has done well. 

Over the next few days you think of reasons to run to the store, to make an extra trip, to drive in the snow even though the city has advised everyone to stay home during the storm: This car is fun. All wheel drive gives you confidence and power on hills and in wet, snowy weather. Heated seats make the car instantly comfortable even when it’s freezing outside. 26 cubic feet of storage in the cargo area give you plenty of room to haul stuff (Strollers? Check. Costco? Check. Both? Yup.) or a good place for the dog when he’s had too much fun in the snow. 

power ports in KiaThe Kia Sportage has a clever little spot for phones and keys just under the center infotainment system; it includes two power ports as well as a USB and audio jack and a combo USB/audio plug. So thoughtful!But actually, you love the time in the car to discover all its luxuries and modern features. And there are a lot, from a navigation system to plenty of charge ports to satellite radio. The infotainment system has so much to offier that you have to fight the kids off to learn to use it. And while safety might not be considered a luxury, and safety features can be pricey, Kia didn’t skimp: the Sportage has them all.

Then, there’s the luxury of the interior space, emphasis on space: The Kia’s cabin is open, roomy and airy. The panoramic sunroof lets in lots of light, rear seats have lots of legroom (and a fold down console offers a place for drinks and storage), and there is even a nifty little storage bin under the rear cargo floor that also serves as a cover over the spare tire. 

But this might be my favorite little luxury: an A/C vent in the glove box. Why they decided to include it I can’t say, but it has some nice uses: someplace to hide your chocolate from the kids where it won’t melt? A great place to stow an emergency lipstick? A convenient storage spot for formula, snacks or other necessities while on a road trip? A cool spot for electronics while the car is parked? All of these?AC vent in the Kia glove boxA/C vent in the Sportage glove box: Handy place to hide the chocolate?

Then January hits and life gets back to normal. And soon in the postman delivers your first car payment invoice. You’re afraid to open it. All those luxuries must be expensive. You start to think: did I really need live maps and satellite radio? Did I really need leather interior? Push a button starter? Heated seats (well, OK, yes, you do need heated seats). You open the envelope.

And you’re stunned. It’s not bad. The monthly payment is $375. So how much was the Kia after all? You dig through the documents that came with the car and find the Monroney–the window sticker that reveals the car’s features and prices: the overall price for this car was $30,800. That’s it. And most of the things you love about it are standard. Phew. You were sure the Kia would cost much more; in fact, you were prepared for a much higher monthly payment. So, now on to your next fantasy: How to spend those extra dollars you didn’t spend on the Kia. Road trip, anyone?
Kia Sportage 2The Kia Sportage looks so nice in my driveway…
What We Loved:
-Navigation and entertainment system with live traffic and maps, destinations, points of interest, all controllable by voice command
Sirius XM satellite radio and iPod connectivity
-Hands free phone that easily and quickly syncs with your phone
-Power ports everywhere, including one in the cargo space
-A clever cord just under the infotainment console that connects your iPod (and charges it too!) to the USB and audio jack
-Smart key and push button start
-Handy little shelf under the infotainment console for phones and keys
-Backup camera that includes trajectory lines that let you see where you’re going based on the angle of the wheels
-Lots of safety features: airbags galore, traction control, rollover protection system, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist (so you don’t roll backwards on a hill) and a tire pressure monitoring system.
-Leather interior
-Heated front seats (drivers seat is cooled, too!)
-A/C vent in the glove box
-5 year roadside assistance, 5 year basic warranty, 10 year powertrain warranty
-$30,800 for the model we tested

What You Need to Know:
-On-demand All Wheel Drive (kicks in when you need it)
-176 horsepower engine
-Seating for five passengers
-Eco Drive monitor lets you know when you are operating efficiently
-20 MPG city/27 MPG highway (we averaged about 20 MPG)

Disclosure: I was not given an Kia for Christmas, merely the opportunity to drive it for a week, compliments of Kia Motors and STI. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own.