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Kia Sportage, Sedona, 2008: Weidel On Wheels

Kia Sportage, Sedona, 2008: Weidel On Wheels 1Price is the over-riding factor for many car shoppers in tough economic times. Getting a “deal” is more important than ever, so one would assume a budget-minded company like Kia would be perfectly positioned.

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The Korean automaker has always prided itself in offering affordable vehicles. And since being purchased by Hyundai and adding quality, Kia has enjoyed improved sales and reputation.

The Sedona, one of Kia’s mainstays, is a well-equipped minivan with a price that can’t be matched by top competitors. The Sportage, a compact sport utility vehicle, is also a value leader, but has drawbacks. Both vehicles have Kia’s best-in-the-industry 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Here are the Sedona and Sportage at a glance:

* Sedona — The second generation continues the Sedona’s reputation. It offers an impressive warranty while also staying on heels of industry leaders Honda Odyssey, Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Siena with can’t-beat prices $20,045 (base model) to $26,195 (EX version).

Initially, Sedona was dinged for poor acceleration and shoddy handling. That’s no longer the case in the 2008 edition, which I quickly discovered during a weekly test. The minivan had spunk and showed more agility than previous years’ models.Kia Sportage, Sedona, 2008: Weidel On Wheels 2

All Sedonas are equipped with a 3.8-liter, V6 with 250 horsepower and five-speed automatic transmission. It’s a heavy vehicle designed for hauling, so don’t expect tremendous acceleration. Yet the Sedona, which shares similarities with the Hyundai Entourage, was clocked at a commendable 9.3 seconds in the standard 0-60 mph test.

The Sedona’s road manners are also commendable, and particularly appreciated if the mission is transporting a van full of excitable kids. The ride is relatively quiet and smooth, even at high speeds. Handling is athletic and provides the driver with confidence. Good storage space, comfortable seating and accessible controls are all part of the Sedona package.

Beware of the short wheelbase model that came out for 2008; It’s not for everyone. Shortened by 21 cubic feet from the traditional model, it doesn’t come with a fold-flat third seat. Despite the difference, the short wheelbase still seats seven.

* Sportage — One of the first compact SUVs on the market, the Sportage arrived before the more-heralded Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Despite being overshadowed for many years by several SUVs, the Sportage moved closer to the competition after a redesign several years ago.

A close relative of the Hyundai Tucson, the Sportage is smartly designed and features an attractive cabin with efficient controls. Legroom and headroom are solid, seating is comfortable, cargo space is versatile and standard features are plentiful.

Kia Sportage, Sedona, 2008: Weidel On Wheels 3

But the Sportage comes up short in performance. It offers a lackluster 4-cylinder model (2.0-liter, 140 horsepower) and the V6 version (2.7-liter, 173 hp) of the 2008 Sportage, test driven for a week, was lacking. It clock 0-60 mph in a tepid 10.7 seconds.

These performance revelations can be a deal-breaker, overshadowing prices ranges from $20,045 to $22,895.

FAST FACTS: 2008 Kia Sedona

Power — 3.8-liter, V6, 250 horsepower; Gas Mileage Estimates — 16 mpg (city), 23 mpg (hwy); Standard Features — 5-speed automatic transmission w/manual-shift capability, traction control, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, brake assist, antiskid system; front-seat active restraints, tire-pressure monitor, zone manual front and rear controls, folding center tray, power windows, doors, mirrors, keyless entry, rear defogger; Warranty — Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion 5 years/100,000 miles; Free roadside assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

FAST FACTS: 2008 Kia Sportage

Power — 2.7-liter, V6, 173 horsepower; Gas Mileage Estimates — 17 mpg (city) 21 mpg (hwy); Standard Features — traction control, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, antiskid system, tire-pressure monitor, tilt steering wheel, center console, power windows and doors; rear defogger, rear privacy glass, roof rails, keyless entry; Warranty — Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/100,000 miles; Free roadside assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

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