Kia Sportage Review

The Kia Sportage is a competitively priced family SUV with a roomy cabin and fairly economical engines, but some alternatives have bigger boots and less divisive styling

7/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Roomy inside
  • Plenty of standard equipment
  • Reassuring seven-year warranty

What's not so good

  • Looks won’t appeal to everyone
  • Alternatives are more comfortable
  • … and come with more standard safety tech

What do you want to read about Kia Sportage?

Overall verdict

The Kia Sportage is a competitively priced family SUV with a roomy cabin and fairly economical engines, but some alternatives have bigger boots and less divisive styling

Remember when smartphones from Samsung and LG were second-best? Well, those days are gone, and so are those when Korean car manufacturers couldn’t be taken seriously too. These days, the Kia Sportage is practical inside, keenly priced and comes better-equipped than a Renault Kadjar or Nissan Qashqai

Whichever model you pick, the Kia Sportage comes with a simple dashboard layout which is easy to navigate, and most of the materials you’ll touch regularly feel just as upmarket as in those in a Skoda Karoq. Despite this, it doesn’t look particularly exciting inside.

Still, you do get a touchscreen infotainment system as standard across the range and a few flashy touches in high-spec models, such as red piping on the leather seats in sporty GT-Line cars.

The Kia Sportage edges ahead of most alternatives in the practicality stakes, though. There’s space in the front seats for six-footers to get comfy and there’s even room in the back for three adults to stretch out thanks to the neat reclining rear seats. And it’s not just passengers the Kia Sportage can carry with ease – the boot’s far bigger than the Nissan Qashqai’s.

If you regularly carry lots of heavy luggage, it’s best to avoid the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine. There’s a more powerful turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol that makes lighter work of motorway journeys, but one of the two 1.6-litre diesels will be your best bet if you load up regularly or do plenty of long trips.

Spotting the changes Kia’s made to this revised Sportage is like playing find the needle in a haystack…

Mat Watson
carwow expert

There’s also a Kia Sportage hybrid that uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine and an electric motor to help it deliver impressive pulling power but without using too much fuel, although it is pricey to buy.

You can get the Kia Sportage with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. The former’s worth considering if you spend lots of time in heavy traffic, but the more expensive – and thirstier – four-wheel-drive models are best avoided unless you need it.

Whichever engine you pick, you’ll find driving the Kia Sportage is a mostly relaxing experience. It’s quiet at motorway speeds and reasonably comfortable over bumps in town. It isn’t even difficult to park since you get a reversing camera as standard.

Unfortunately, unlike many family SUVs, you don’t get automatic emergency braking on entry-level Kia Sportages – you’ll need a higher-spec model for that. That shouldn’t dissuade you from considering the Sportage, however – it’s still a good all-round family car, especially if you regularly carry tall passengers in the back.

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

Its cabin isn’t quite as intuitive as those you’ll find in some German SUVs, but the Kia Sportage does a good job of aping its European cousins’ solid build quality

Mat Watson
carwow expert

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. Passengers over six-feet tall will fit behind an equally tall driver and there’s enough headroom to stop their heads touching the ceiling – even 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. Shoulder room is a little tight, but you’ll hear far fewer complaints from your 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.

The Kia Sportage doesn’t just cater to passengers well, there are plenty of handy cubby holes dotted about its cabin to hide away a wide 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.

The Kia Sportage’s 503-litre boot is larger than that in a Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar, and easily big enough to carry a few large suitcases or a 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 Sportages 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.

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 – in non-hybrid models, at least.

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Easy to drive and reasonably economical

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 is worth a look. It’s far from the fastest SUV on sale, but it’s perky enough to pull out of junctions without feeling too laboured. Kia claims it’ll return 39.8mpg, but you’ll probably see a figure closer to 35mpg in normal driving conditions.

If you do a broader mix of city and motorway driving the more powerful 174hp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol will be a better choice. It accelerates from 0-62mph 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 diesels will be a better bet. The entry-level 114hp 1.6-litre model is pretty sluggish – it takes a rather sedate 11.4 seconds to reach 62mph from rest – but manages decent fuel economy. You can expect it to return 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 far faster 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 light steering and pedals 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.

Once you’ve extricated the Kia Sportage from a car park, you’ll find it irons out bumps reasonably well around town. It’s not quite as comfortable as a Nissan Qashqai, but stick to versions with the smaller 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels and it softens the jarring thud of large potholes fairly well.

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

On the motorway, the Kia Sportage does a decent 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.

The previous Kia Sportage – with which this new model shares many components – earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was crash tested in 2015. This doesn’t tell the whole story, however – the tests are stricter now than ever and many other SUVs come with more safety kit as standard. For example, 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.

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