Are You Afraid of Winter Driving?
By Zoe AckahSpecial Features Editor On October 19, 2012 @ 7:51 pm In Autos | No Comments
Though winters are getting milder, winter driving is by no means a thing of the past. With warmer weather come greater temperature fluctuations and dramatic storms that drench the ground and then freeze it.
In honour of the impending season, I took a 2012 Kia Sportage 2.0L T-GDI out for a test drive.
You may not know that Kia makes a line of military vehicles. I’ve felt the need for military strength since the Quebec ice storms of 1998 and the winter of 1999, when Toronto was forced to call in the army after 45 cm of snow fell in one night.
The Sportage is a sport-utility vehicle. A quick YouTube search of “Kia Sportage in the snow” shows drivers from all over the world moving about confidently in extreme weather.
If you’ve never owned a car with all-wheel-drive you will immediately notice the increased stability and added traction. Though there was no snow for me to play in during my test drive, the performance in heavy rain was rock solid.
In 2010 Kia introduced Dynamax, an intelligent AWD system that anticipates the system’s needs, improving traction and stability as well as fuel economy.
Like most SUVs, the Sportage is higher off the ground than a sedan, which helps when there is lots of snow or mud. It also has a wide wheelbase and track. The Sportage is aerodynamic and not too top-heavy, making the centre of mass relatively low. All these factors add to stability.
It’s comforting that the 2012 Sportage won the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick, as did its 2011 predecessor. It’s also fairly gutsy. The SX I drove has 260 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque.
I like to tell myself that one of the best ways to avoid an accident is to drive around it. When choosing between turbo or non-turbo engines, I always chose turbo. Okay, it’s by no means the only reason, but its what I’m willing to admit to in print.
The Sportage turbo model, the 2.0L, is a 4-cylinder turbo engine with gasoline direct injection, giving you 6 cylinder power with something closer to 4-cylinder fuel economy. It gets 7.7 L/100 km on the highway and 10 L/100 km in the city.
Another great way to avoid accidents is to not fiddle with your cellphone, radio, or GPS while driving. If you are moving from a car that is a bit older, you may not have experienced the wonders of modern connectivity.
The Sportage allows you to use the phone hands free, and the voice recognition button on the steering wheel lets you access your cellphone contacts or program a GPS destination without taking your hands off the wheel.
Overall, the Kia Sportage is a very comfortable and safe car with lots of room inside and great winter performance.
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