I've had over 30 cars from every manufacturer you can imagine. Every marquee Alfa-Romeo to Volkswagen has graced the friendly confines of my garage, but this underpowered old KIA will be hard to part with when the time comes.
This machine is nothing short of a mechanical miracle. When I bought it used it for $3300 from a new car "megadealership" I speculated it would be a credible third car that would be good in inclement weather. I never believed it would become my first line vehicle and daily driver.
Fast? Not hardly. The SOHC Sportage couldn't go 0 - 60 mph in under 12 seconds if a Ferrari Enzo was pulling it. Your acceleration is not really acceleration it is more like a 'planned merge' into traffic.
However, my SOHC Sportage with a manual transmission gets remarkably better gas mileage than my friend's DOHC Sportage with an automatic. It is not unusual to average 20 - 24 mpg with this 3200 lb. vehicle.
The four-wheel drive system is primitive and can only be used when the roads are really bad or you are on dirt. It has a tendency to bind your steering in tight situations when it is engaged otherwise. But who really needs to power every wheel on a minute-by-minute basis?
The engine, transmission and differentials on this truck are readily accessible and it is easily serviced.
Unlike other smaller sport-utilities that I drove, this one didn't feel like it was going to roll over. It rides like an untamed bronco, but its steering is tight and its braking is average. It is better than you would expect for its cost.
Let's look at the economics of this truck: I've spent $3500 total for the purchase of the vehicle and all its repairs. I've driven it 45,000 miles in that time and it is still worth nearly what I paid for it. Better yet, I've not been stuck in almost three years.
Money well spent.