Today’s drivers are certainly spoilt for choice.
There are now at least a couple of dozen seriously competitive brands, offering between them close on 100 different models – with endless selections of trim, engines and equipment.
Kia’s stylish Sportage crossover, for instance, comes in no fewer than 26 variants and offers a choice of four engines – 1.6 and 2.0 litre petrol powerplants plus two different two-litre diesel variants. All four are available in manual or automatic gearbox versions and there’s the option of two or four-wheel drive.
Most versions offer a fuel saving stop-and-go system while the KX-4 model I lived with for a week featured a useful parallel park assist system and a smart entry system allied to a stop/start engine button.
As we’ve come to expect from the Korean manufacturer, specification levels are very high right across the range, while sales’ incentives include Kia’s pioneering seven-year warranty.
Longer, lower and wider than the more traditional SUV it replaces, the new Sportage is a thoroughly practical five-door, five-seat vehicle with a particular appeal to young families.
Widened front and rear tracks enhance handling and roadholding and substantially reduced weight helps too.
The aim of chief designer Peter Schreyer and his team was to produce a vehicle that is stylish and sporty yet eminently practical too. They succeeded and despite the grim prevailing weather conditions, marrying freezing fog to black ice and flurried of snow, I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure.
It’s a class act, inside and out. An eye-catching multi-tier dashboard narrows as it sweeps in from the side to a prominent centre console, an air of luxury and leading-edge style prevails.
Standard equipment levels are commendably high, even in the entry-level trim grade. 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, all-round electric windows, a two-way adjustable steering column, LED daytime running lights, remote locking, front fog and cornering lights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity with voiced recognition all tick the box. Sportage 2 and KX-2 renditions add part leather upholstery, roof rails, privacy glass, reversing sensors, a panoramic glass roof and other goodies to the mix, while riding on handsome 17-inch wheels.
At the top end of the range, the highly desirable 3 and KX-3 models come with full leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, an auto dimming rear view mirror and 18-inch allows. Special satellite navigation versions of these two feature a rear-view camera, a seven-inch LCD colour screen and an updated sound system.
Expect top speeds of around 110 mph and fuel consumption ranging from 38.2 to 54.3 mpg dependent on model, while 0-62 mph acceleration times range from 9.4 to 11.9 seconds.
Sportage prices range from £17,300 up to and eye-watering £28,500 for the range topping KX-4.