The Kia Sportage has long been a firm favourite among families looking for a stylish and practical family car that won’t break the bank. The current model went on sale in early 2016 and sports a fresh new look and enhanced interior quality. There are a lot of talented rivals to choose from, however, including the popular Ford Kuga.
The Kuga has always been one of the best drivers’ cars in the class, and offers plenty of practicality to boot – further enhanced by its recent refresh. The Sportage counters by focusing on interior luxury and refinement, while still offering Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty and generous standard equipment. Which one suits you and your family’s needs best? Read our comparison to find out…
If you’ve already made up your mind, put either the Kia Sportage or the Ford Kuga in our car configurator to see the deals carwow could help you get. For more options, check out our list of the best SUVs on sale.
Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga – styling
Those after a distinctive looking crossover could do worse than taking a look at the Kia Sportage. The old car was generally considered pretty stylish, but the new model really stands out on the road – although it’s up to you to decide whether this is a good or bad thing. Bold headlights, a more aggressive grille and curvier bodywork give the Sportage undeniable presence, especially in sporty GT Line trim which brings larger alloy wheels that really fill out the wheelarches.
Against the Sportage, some may see the Ford Kuga as a little bit dowdy but, choose the right colour and wheel combination and it’s still a good looking machine, especially in top-spec Titanium X trim. The recent facelift brought a new grille that brings the Kuga more in line with the newer Edge SUV and looks much more attractive than the old car’s fussy front end.
Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga – interior
Kia has paid a lot of attention to its customers so the new cabin features much improved materials and a sensible, ergonomic design. Factor in the impressive standard equipment and handy features like USB charging points for rear seat passengers, and you have a winning choice for families.
The Kuga is starting to show its age a little, and shares much of its interior layout with the Focus hatchback. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there are lots of cheap feeling plastics lower down the cabin and some may find the button-heavy design a little messy. The infotainment screen has been improved in the facelifted car but still feels a generation or two behind the best from Germany.
In terms of interior space, it’s the Sportage that comes out on top again – there’s a well-shaped boot measuring 503 litres or 491 in all-wheel-drive models, with a low load lip and an electronically powered opening that can be opened with a wave of a foot. Passenger space is ample, too, with plenty of room for those in the rear and wide opening doors to help with loading kids and baby paraphernalia.
The Kuga is larger on the outside, so its 442-litre boot is a little disappointing – it’s noticeably smaller than the Nissan Qashqai, a car that’s noticeably more compact and, with a spare wheel, it decreases to 406 litres. Passenger space is reasonable and even six-footers will be comfortable in the rear seats, although squeezing three next to each other might be a bit tricky.
Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga – driving
Crossovers like these two aren’t known for being the most entertaining vehicles to drive, but both of these options will more than satisfy the average owner. Kia has given the new Sportage more refinement and sharper driving dynamics than its predecessor but, in general, it merely feels rounded with enough comfort to while away the miles and enough control to feel stable at speed.
Ford has long cultivated a reputation for making great handling cars and, although the Kuga isn’t in the same league as less weight-challenged Fords, it’s a lot less unwieldy than you’d think for a vehicle this size. Add in a comfortable ride and you have a family car that’s easy to drive with the added benefit of a raised driving position – giving you confidence when driving it.
Neither car qualifies as a serious off-roader, but four-wheel drive is an option on both. There aren’t any fancy electronic gizmos like those found on pricier rivals from the likes of Land Rover, but a light dusting of snow or wet grass can be dispatched with ease. Naturally, fitting four-wheel drive will impact fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga – engines
The engine split in the Kia is relatively even between petrol and diesel – there are two 1.6-litre petrol engines – one with 132hp, and another that’s been turbocharged to give a more impressive 176hp. Those after a diesel engined car have a choice between a 112hp 1.7-litre engine, or two 2.0-litre engines with either 134 or 182hp. The larger choices are more refined and scarcely any less economical, so we’d advise going for one of those if you can stretch to it.
The Ford’s engines are a little more powerful, and there are two 1.6-litre petrol engines, with either 148 or 180hp. Ironically, the larger engine is slower because it comes as standard with a six-speed automatic gearbox but, if you can afford the fuel bills, it’s a very relaxed choice. The more popular engines are the two 2.0-litre diesel engines, that come with either 138 or 178hp – the latter comes as standard with four-wheel-drive and all engines compare well with the Sportage’s in terms of performance.
Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga – value for money
You might be surprised to find that neither the Sportage or the Kuga will cost much more to run than a regular family hatchback. The Sportage is priced from around £18,000, making it little more expensive to buy than the smaller Volkswagen Golf. Equipment levels are excellent, too – all versions come with Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, cruise control, air-conditioning and LED running lights. Top of the range GT Line models cost a little more than £30,000, although the sweet spot in the range might be one of the cheaper models.
The Kuga is priced from around £24,500, with the priciest variant being the £32,595 Titanium X Sport. Like-for-like, the Ford is around £2,000 more expensive than the Sportage, but the savings that carwow can get for you can help narrow that gap significantly.
Running costs are very similar in both vehicles, with the most fuel efficient diesel versions returning about 60mpg – the 1.7-litre engine in the Sportage just edges it out and costs just £30 in road tax, compared to £110 for the most frugal Kuga. The larger engined Sportage diesels can also be optioned with a six-speed automatic, and that knocks around 3mpg off. Petrol versions are a little thirstier and the most powerful versions of each can only manage around 38mpg combined – somewhat disappointing when you consider a petrol BMW X1 has 190hp and can return 44mpg.
Kia Sportage vs Ford Kuga – verdict
Whichever of these cars you choose, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up disappointed. Some will prefer the posher cabin and eye-catching styling of the Sportage, whereas others will be swayed by the keener handling and tougher image of the Kuga.
For us, however, the Kia’s impressive seven-year warranty is enough to steer us toward the Sportage. The Kuga only gets a meagre three-year warranty so, if you’re a private buyer, that could be an important factor. Both cars are worthy of consideration, however, with the practicality minded buyer probably served better by the Kia and the keener driver better suited to the Ford.
Save money on your new SUV
Whichever you prefer, check out our Kia Sportage deals page or Ford Kuga deals page to get the best price on your new SUV. If neither of these cars is for you, our car chooser is here to help narrow down your search.