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1998 Kia Sportage Road Test

A Sport/Utility For Less Than 20 Grand!

Tori TellemWriterCole QuinnellPhotographer

Remember when 20 grand was a lot of money? All right, it still is, but if you're 4x4 shopping, you know there's not much under that amount. Then comes the '98 Kia Sportage.

Surely we jest, you must be thinking. But we mean it-this is a sport/ute for near-nada. With air conditioning? Check. A CD player? Check. A theft-deterrent system, four-wheel drive, a roof rack, and power everything? Check, check, check, and check. That's a whole new kind of sticker shock, ain't it?

The Kia Sportage 4x4 may be one of the best-kept secrets around. Introduced in 1995, it has since been racking up oodles of best-buy awards as well as winning a Class 3 championship in the SCORE Desert Championship Series in 1997.

New for this year is an updated body style for both the interior and exterior; dual airbags; and upgrades to existing features, including the drivetrain and the engine. The Sportage comes in two trim levels: The Sportage and the Sportage EX. The Sportage carries a list price of $16,395, and the base price of the EX is $18,495. The optioned Sportage we road-tested had an MSRP of $18,529.