Kia Sportage Review

The Kia Sportage is worth a look if you’re after a practical family SUV with economical engines and a roomy cabin, but alternatives have bigger boots and more safety kit.

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expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Roomy interior
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Reassuring seven-year warranty

What's not so good

  • Divisive looks
  • Alternatives have bigger boots…
  • … and more standard safety tech

Kia Sportage: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

The Kia Sportage is a family SUV you’ll want to consider if you’re looking for something with a spacious cabin and a wide range of engines and want something that’ll stand out from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson and Skoda Karoq.

Take the Kia Sportage’s front end for example. You might not call it conventionally attractive, but it’s certainly eye-catching. Its raised grille and protruding bumper trims give you the impression the Sportage is turning its nose up at other cars like a millionaire pensioner being forced to wait in line at the Post Office.

In addition to its slightly snooty front end, GT Line models come with plenty of shiny sill trims and chrome exhaust tips to make them look sportier than most family SUVs.

Sadly, this theme doesn’t quite continue inside. Sure, the Kia Sportage’s cabin feels very well put together and most of the materials are nice enough, but its simple layout and drab colour scheme don’t give you much to write home about.

That being said, at least everything’s dead easy to use, including the touchscreen infotainment system. A Skoda Karoq’s display is perhaps a bit more high-tech, but the Kia Sportage comes with all-important smartphone mirroring as standard.

It also gets seats with a decent amount of adjustment to help you find your perfect driving position and there’s enough space in the back for tall adults to get pretty comfy. There’s a little more space to carry three adults at once in the Mazda CX-5, but you’d never call the Kia Sportage pokey and it’s dead easy to fit a couple of child seats.

The Kia Sportage isn’t the most stylish, spacious or sporty SUV to drive, but it’s a good all-rounder with a reasonably up-market cabin and a decent amount of standard equipment.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

It’s a similar story when you come to load the boot. It isn’t the biggest of any family SUV, but it’s roomy enough to carry four people’s luggage for a week away and a bike will fit if you fold the back seats down.

If you do plan to use your Kia Sportage for regular family road trips, you’ll want one of the economical diesel engines. These are pretty smooth at motorway speeds and the more powerful 1.6- and hybrid 2-litre versions have enough poke to easily overtake slow-moving traffic. There’s also a pair of petrol engines to consider if you spend more time driving in town.

Whichever engine you choose, you’ll find the Kia Sportage is reasonably comfortable – if not quite as smooth as the Peugeot 3008. It’s still pretty relaxing to drive for long periods, however – especially in higher-spec models with their upgraded driver assistance systems – and you won’t hear a great deal of wind or tyre noise at motorway speeds.

Unlike the Peugeot, you can get the Kia Sportage as a 4×4. However, these four-wheel-drive models are only worth considering if you live somewhere plagued by very icy winter weather because they’re more expensive to buy and cost more to run than their two-wheel-drive siblings.

Head down some country roads and you’ll find the Kia Sportage doesn’t quite live up to its athletic name. It doesn’t lean a great deal in sharp bends – so there’ll be no reason for passengers to feel carsick after a few miles – but it doesn’t feel as nimble as a Mazda CX-5.

You shouldn’t let this put you off considering the Kia Sportage, though. It’s a very good family SUV but alternatives such as the Skoda Karoq and Mazda CX-5 are better allrounders.

For more information, read our in-depth interior and specifications review sections or head over to our Kia Sportage deals page to see how much you can save on a new car.

If you want Kia dealers to send you offers on our recommended engine/trim combination, click the button below.

carwow engine/trim recommendation 1.6 CRDi Auto GT Line Get offers

How practical is it?

Unlike some SUVs, there’s plenty of space in the Sportage’s back seats for tall adults to get comfy, but its boot does lag behind the size of some roomier alternatives as a result

The Kia Sportage’s boot isn’t the biggest in the family SUV world, but that’s like saying one shed isn’t as big as another – a lawnmower is still going to fit comfortably

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
439 - 491 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,428 - 1,480 litres

The Kia Sportage’s cabin is pretty spacious when compared with other similar-sized SUVs. There’s loads of head and leg room in the front and you get seat-height adjustment as standard to make sure you get a good view out.

The manual adjustment for the front seats isn’t particularly easy to use, but pay extra for a ‘4’ model or above and you get 10-way electric adjustment for the driver’s seat and eight-way electric adjustment for your front-seat passenger.

Thankfully, you don’t have to shell out for a high-spec model if you want adjustable lumbar support – this comes as standard across the range and helps make long journeys more comfortable.

There’s an impressive amount of space in the Kia Sportage’s back seats, too. Six-foot passengers have enough knee room to sit behind an equally tall driver and there’s just enough headroom to stop their heads touching the ceiling – though there’s a bit less space in models with a panoramic glass roof. The back seats even recline slightly – perfect for nodding off on a long drive.

The Kia Sportage’s wide cabin means there’s enough space in the back to carry three adult passengers side-by-side. The Mazda CX-5 has a little more shoulder room, but you’ll hear far fewer complaints from passengers than in the comparatively cramped Nissan Qashqai.

Fitting a large child seat is made easy by the Sportage’s wide rear door openings and the clearly marked Isofix anchor points. They even come with neat folding plastic covers instead of easy-to-lose removable plastic caps, but there isn’t quite enough space left over between two child seats for an extra passenger.

The Kia Sportage doesn’t just cater to passengers well, there are plenty of handy cubby holes dotted about its cabin to hide away an assortment of family bits and bobs. The front door bins and the glovebox are all big enough to hold a one-litre bottle and there’s enough space under the front armrest for a few drinks cans. The two cupholders between the front seats are wide and deep enough to hold scalding hot coffee nice and securely, too.

The rear door bins are just as big as those in the front and folding armrest between the back seats comes with two built-in cupholders. You can’t get the Kia Sportage with aeroplane-style folding picnic tables like the VW Tiguan, however, so your passengers will just have to be extra careful when they’re pigging out in the back. They do get a pair of charging points between the front seats, though.

The Kia Sportage has 503 litres of boot space which is more than you get in a Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar so it’s easily big enough to carry a few large suitcases and some soft bags or a large baby buggy. With the adjustable boot floor raised, there’s no annoying boot lip so it’s a doddle to slide in some heavy items, but the Hyundai Tucson is slightly roomier still and the capacious Skoda Karoq is in a different league when it comes to swallowing bulky luggage.

Unfortunately, there isn’t quite as much space under the movable boot floor in hybrid models – after all, Kia had to put the extra batteries somewhere – but all Sportage models come with some tether points and shopping hooks to hold bags and smaller items securely.

You also get a two-way (60:40) split rear seat as standard, so you can carry some very long luggage and a back-seat passenger at once. With all the back seats folded flat, the Kia Sportage’s load bay grows to 1,492 litres. That’s more than you get in a Renault Kadjar and big enough to carry a bike with its wheels attached, but not quite as much as you get in most other similar-sized SUVs such as the Mazda CX-5.

Still, at least the Kia Sportage’s load bay is flat so it’s easy to push heavy boxes right up behind the back seats, and there’s just enough space under the adjustable boot floor to store the parcel shelf if you need to remove it.

What's it like to drive?

The Kia Sportage covers all the important SUV bases – it’s fairly comfortable, easy to drive and won’t cost the earth to run. You couldn’t really call it fun, however

The mild-hybrid model’s electric motor in so unobtrusive that you can’t tell whether it’s actually working – until you glance down at your mpg, that is

Mat Watson
carwow expert

You can have your Kia Sportage with a range of two petrol engines, two diesel units and as a mild-hybrid which pairs a diesel engine with a compact electric motor to improve performance and fuel economy.

If you do lots of driving in town, the most affordable 1.6-litre petrol model with 130hp might be worth a look. It feels pretty sluggish, but Kia claims it’ll return 39.8mpg. You’ll probably see a figure closer to 35mpg in normal driving conditions, though.

A much better option – especially if you do a mix of city and motorway driving – is the more powerful 174hp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol. It accelerates from 0-60mph almost two seconds faster than the 130hp model and feels much less strained when you put your foot down to overtake slow-moving traffic. It won’t cost significantly more to run, either – Kia claims it’ll return 36.2mpg compared with the 130hp version’s 39.8mpg.

If you do lots of long trips, one of the diesel units will be a better bet. The entry-level 114hp 1.6-litre model is pretty sluggish – it takes more than 11 seconds to reach 60mph from rest – but manages to return decent fuel economy. You can expect to see close to 55mpg compared with Kia’s claimed 57.8mpg figure.

There’s also a more powerful 134hp 1.6-litre diesel that feels faster and returns identical claimed fuel economy. It costs a little more to buy but feels much quicker than the rather weedy 114hp unit. Both 1.6-litre diesel engines are impressively quiet when you’re cruising long – especially when compared with the outgoing Sportage’s slightly clattery 1.7-litre diesel engines.

Then there’s a mild hybrid model that couples a 2.0-litre diesel engine with a small electric motor. This 182hp Sportage is your best bet if you plan to regularly tow heavy trailers but it can’t run on purely electric mode at slow speeds like other conventional hybrids. Despite this, it’ll still return around 45mpg in normal driving conditions – not too shabby for a relatively powerful, high-riding family SUV.

The standard six-speed manual gearbox you get in all but the top-spec hybrid model is pretty easy to use – even in stop-start traffic – but the optional seven-speed automatic makes even lighter work of long rush-hour commutes.

You can get the more powerful 1.6-litre petrol and diesel models with four-wheel drive, but, unless you’re absolutely certain you’ll take your Kia Sportage off-road, it isn’t worth paying for. Even if you do, you’ll find the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport significantly better at dealing with muddy fields and rutted farm tracks than the resolutely urbanite Kia.

The Kia Sportage is reasonably easy to drive in town – despite its fairly large size. You get a decent view out and the relatively light controls mean you won’t feel tired having just squeezed into a tight parking space.

Speaking of parking, you get a reversing camera as standard across the range while ‘2’ versions come with parking sensors and ‘4’ models and above feature a neat 360-degree surround-view camera system. It’s not all good news, however – you can’t get the Kia Sportage with a self-parking system to steer you into parallel and bay spaces like the VW Tiguan and the steering’s a little heavier than in some other family SUVs.

Once you’ve extricated the Kia Sportage from a car park, you’ll find it irons out big bumps reasonably well around town, but it can’t deal with uneven road surfaces as comfortably as the Peugeot 3008.

There isn’t much to complain about when you leave the city and head out onto a twisty back road. Sure, the Sportage doesn’t quite live up to its sporty name – a Mazda CX-5 is more fun to drive and has steering that inspires a little more confidence in tight turns – but it doesn’t lean too much in sharp corners so your passengers won’t be reaching for the sick-bags on meandering country drives.

On the motorway, the Kia Sportage does a reasonable job of muffling annoying wind and tyre noise and all models get cruise control as standard so it’s pretty relaxing to drive for long periods. It’s especially stress-free if you go for a GT-Line S model – these get adaptive cruise control which brakes and accelerates for you to help maintain a safe distance to other cars.

Sadly, you don’t get a lane-keeping assist on entry-level ‘1’ models and automatic emergency braking to help prevent avoidable collisions is reserved for Edition 25, ‘4’ and GT-Line S cars.

What's it like inside?

The Kia Sportage’s interior comes with plenty of desirable infotainment features, but its slightly bland design won’t sweep you off your feet

Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used Kia Sportage at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £23,445 - £34,665 Avg. carwow saving £2,921 off RRP
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