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Kia Sportage outpoints Mitsubishi Outlander Sport & Nissan Juke in Consumer Reports' SUV/hatchbacks tests

Posted Monday, February 14, 2011

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Honda Odyssey outscores Kia Sedona in minivan face-off

Yonkers, NY — The redesigned Kia Sportage outscored the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the Nissan Juke in Consumer Reports’ tests for the March issue of three small vehicles that straddle the line between hatchbacks and SUVs. All three received a Very Good overall road test score.

“The melding of more carlike qualities in these vehicles comes with some concessions like passenger room, visibility, and versatility compared with that of other SUVs,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. “But the Sportage outmaneuvered the other two competitors because it manages to have greater interior space without losing its fun to drive character.”

Nissan Juke

The Sportage emerged as a competitive small SUV with nimble handling and an efficient powertrain. The Outlander Sport is a smaller version of the Outlander SUV, with less rear seating and cargo space. The fun-to-drive Juke is a new design based on the Nissan Versa platform, but its distinctive styling compromises rear-seat space, cargo room, and visibility.

All three vehicles have an SUV’s elevated ride height and available all-wheel drive, but they’re trimmer and sportier in appearance and handling. They blend characteristics of multiple-vehicle categories—SUVs, wagons, and hatchbacks. Prices for the SUVs ranged from $23,300 for the Nissan Juke SV to $23,995 for the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE.

The issue also features a face-off between the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona minivans. The Odyssey scored an Excellent road test score and topped CR’s minivans ratings, outpointing the Sedona which scored Very Good.

All the vehicles in this test group are new, redesigned, or freshened for 2011. The Kia Sportage and Honda Odyssey were redesigned for 2011, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Nissan Juke are new models for 2011, and the Kia Sedona was freshened with a new powertrain. In all, Consumer Reports has ratings on more than 50 different small SUVs, hatchbacks, and minivans—including the Odyssey’s biggest competitor, the Toyota Sienna.

The Juke, Odyssey, Outlander Sport, and Sportage are too new for Consumer Reports to have adequate reliability data to Recommend. The Kia Sedona’s reliability is below average and therefore not Recommended. CR only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Full tests and ratings for all five of these test vehicles appear in the March issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale February 8th. The reports are also available to subscribers of Updated daily, is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

The redesigned Kia Sportage has a steady highway ride, but acceleration is leisurely, and its stiff ride and pronounced road noise detract from the driving experience. The Sportage LX ($23,790 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price as tested), is powered by a 176-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 22 mpg overall in CR’s own fuel economy tests. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is very good. Outward visibility is impaired by the small windows and thick roof pillars. Folding the 60/40-split rear seats reveals a good-sized cargo hold, but the sloping roof robs space.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is based on the Outlander SUV, but is smaller with less rear seating and cargo space. It’s not as nimble as its sibling, and acceleration is just adequate. The Outlander Sport SE ($23,995 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 148-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that feels sluggish and gets 23 mpg overall. The continuously variable transmission holds engine revs high, which aggravates engine noise. Braking is very good. Folding down the 60/40-split seatbacks creates a modest 25 cubic feet of cargo space.

The funky-looking Nissan Juke is a small, fun-to-drive hatchback with nimble handling and punchy turbocharged powertrain. The Juke feels agile and sporty, but a stiff, choppy ride and noisy cabin undermine what would otherwise be an enjoyable driving experience. The Juke SV ($23,300 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 188-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 24 mpg overall. The continuously variable transmission makes the most of the small engine’s power output. Braking is very good. Visibility to the rear is compromised. The rear seat is tight and the cargo area is small.

The redesigned Honda Odyssey traded away some of the previous generation’s crisp handling qualities for a more comfortable ride. The ride is supple and controlled and unruffled on the highway. Although handling is not as agile as the previous version, it remains well planted in corners. Its emergency handling has low limits. The Odyssey EX-L ($36,830 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 248-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that is smooth and gets 19 mpg overall. The EX-L’s five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is very good. The interior is solidly constructed, but many plastic surfaces are hard to the touch. Several unique features provide impressive child seat installation flexibility.

The seven-seat Kia Sedona’s big appeal is that it provides a lot of features for the money, but the design is dated. It rides stiffly and rocking and pitching motions mar the ride on the highway. The Sedona EX ($33,990 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 271-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that provides lively performance and gets 18 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is very good. Controls are simple. Unlike the Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, the Sedona cannot be equipped to seat eight.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645 or visit

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.

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Kia Sportage outpoints Mitsubishi Outlander Sport & Nissan Juke in Consumer Reports' SUV/hatchbacks tests
Kia Sportage outscored the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the Nissan Juke in Consumer Reports’ tests
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