Kia Sportage (2016-2018) Review & Prices
Kia’s best-selling car in the UK is spacious and well-equipped, but its looks won’t appeal to all tastes
What's not so good
Find out more about the Kia Sportage (2016-2018)
Kia has gone from strength to strength over the past decade or so, and the Sportage has spearheaded this move into the mainstream. This great value SUV has proved a huge sales hit, outselling alternatives from the likes of Audi, BMW and Ford.
As such, there are plenty of examples to find on the used market to tempt you, thanks to the Kia Sportage being a good-value SUV with a long warranty, big boot and roomy back seats. And so long as you like its bold, but slightly Marmite, looks, it’s a thoroughly decent family SUV.
The fourth-generation Sportage went on sale in 2016 before receiving an update in 2018, by which time it had become the Korean firm’s best-selling model in the UK.
Compared with the model before, the 2016 SUV lost some of the sharper lines around the front end and replaced them with a curvier face. The headlights sit high, as does the front grille, giving the Sportage a raised, imposing appearance.
The exterior styling might not be for everyone, but at least it’s bold. Unlike the interior, which is pretty dull.
The exterior styling might not be for everyone, but at least it’s bold. Unlike the interior. It's quite dull inside but everything is well built and there’s a bit more poshness than the Hyundai Tucson, although it’s still some way off the Volkswagen Tiguan in terms of premium feel.
Seats with a decent amount of adjustment will help you find your perfect driving position and there’s enough space in the back for tall adults to get pretty comfy. It’s easy to fit a couple of child seats, too.
The boot, meanwhile, 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.
Behind the wheel, it might be Sportage by name but not sporty by nature. The Skoda Karoq and Mazda CX-5 drive better down a country road but, unlike some alternatives, you can get 4x4 versions should you fancy some (very) light off-roading.
At launch there were two petrol engines. Both were 1.6-litre units, with one scrimping on a turbo and making 132hp, while the turbo’d version puts out 177hp.
There cars were sold new at a time before diesel became a dirty word, so most Sportages you’ll find will be fuelled from the black pump. The best-seller was the 115hp 1.7-litre engine, but you’ll also find a 2.0-litre with 136hp and 184hp outputs.
All engines have a six-speed manual gearbox, while the most powerful diesel has a six-speed automatic. Opt for the 177hp petrol and you have the option of the then-new dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), which offers snappier shifts.
For 2018’s updates, the engine range was largely kept as it was, but there were minor fuel efficiency and emissions improvements across the range.
The popular 115hp 1.7-litre diesel received a second power option of 139hp, which was paired with that seven-speed DCT automatic.
The fourth generation Sportage was launched with a high-specification First Edition trim that included full leather upholstery with heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, rear-view camera and 18-inch alloy wheels.
There were five trim lines in the regular range, called 1, 2, 3, 4 and GT-Line. Grade 1 cars received 16-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, cloth upholstery, air conditioning and DAB radio.
Upgrading to grade 2 added 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen navigation system with a reversing camera and some extra driver assistance kit, while 3 got 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery with heated front and rear seats and an 8.0-inch infotainment display with a JBL sound system.
Opt for the 4 and you’ll find bi-xenon adaptive headlights, front parking sensors, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof and more safety tech, including automatic emergency braking. Finally, GT-Line sits between 2 and 3 spec-wise, getting a sporty appearance and a unique 19-inch alloy wheel design.
Much like the engine range, the trim specifications didn’t change much with the 2018 update. However, a new GT Line S model joined the GT Line, and is fitted with some of the more high-spec desirables, such as a panoramic sunroof and JBL sound system.
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 ‘3’ 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.
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. Fitting a large child seat is made easy by the Sportage’s wide rear door openings and the clearly marked Isofix anchor points.
The Sportage’s 503-litre boot is big, usefully shaped, and can carry several large suitcases. It can hold more luggage than the Nissan Qashqai (430 litres) but the Hyundai Tucson slightly edges it with a 513-litre boot. Fold the Kia’s rear seats down and you open up a 1,492-litre space which is more than big enough to fit a bicycle with both wheels attached. It’s worth noting that all models get rear seats that fold down in a 60:40 ratio – meaning two people can sit in the back with a long object threaded through from the boot.
The high driving position makes the Sportage an easy car to drive around town. The view out is good but not perfect – there’s a bit of a blind spot ahead and to the right of the driver’s seat. The rear window is quite small too but, thankfully, rear parking sensors are standard on all but the entry-level model.
The suspension doesn’t iron out lumps on the road quite as well as the Nissan Qashqai, but it’s not going to annoy you on bumpy roads. The upside of this firmer suspension is that the Sportage doesn’t lean very much in corners, which helps if you have passengers who are prone to car sickness.
Despite this, the Sportage doesn’t excel at putting a smile on your face on a country road. If you want a similar-size SUV that drives like a sporty car then you’re better off with the excellent Mazda CX-5 – though similar models will be pricier than the Kia.
While the lower-powered diesel engine is by far the most popular in the range, it’s pretty sluggish, so only opt for this if you’re on a budget and doing plenty of motorway miles where it settles nicely at a cruise.
Want to tow with your Sportage? You’ll be able to pull up to 2,000kg, and will be wanting either of the 2.0-litre diesels, which are also available with all-wheel drive. Otherwise, don’t spend the extra on a four-wheel-drive Sportage, as it’s not as good off-road as the Land Rover Discovery Sport, so isn’t worth the extra fuel costs or purchase price.
As with many cars that are typically used by families, it’s a good idea to check for stains and damage inside the car. If the car is mostly driven in the city and on the school run, there might be dents and scuffs to the bodywork that need attention, too.
Otherwise the Sportage is a well-made car with few major, recurring faults identified by owners. It’s worth noting that this model has performed better in reliability surveys as a petrol car rather than a diesel, though high-mileage drivers and those looking for a tow car shouldn’t be put off by this. Just be a little more diligent when looking through the service history to check that the car has been well looked after.
One minor issue that occasionally crops up is an issue with the electrics, usually relating to the sat nav. When viewing a car, double check that the sat nav loads up correctly and that you can control options such as the destination input.
Recalls are common in the car industry, so shouldn’t put you off buying a particular car. They usually come from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) or the manufacturer itself, and address everything from small electrical issues to major mechanical problems.
You can contact your local dealer to find out if your car has any outstanding recalls, or type the number plate into the Government website. This handy guide tells you everything you need to know about car recalls.
Impressively, at the time of writing there are no recalls for the fourth generation Kia Sportage, so there’s nothing for you to check has been completed ahead of time. However, should you buy one, recalls could come up at a later date, at which point you will be contacted and asked to visit a local dealer.
Safety and security
The Kia Sportage is a safe car, having scored the full five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2016. The modern test is much stricter, but even so, its 90% rating for adult occupant protection at the time is very impressive, while the 83% for children will be reassuring for those with families.
All but the lowest trim level have decent driver assistance technology, with grade 2 and above getting lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam and speed limit information functions. Upgrade to the 4 trim and you get autonomous emergency braking and blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert.
The family SUV market is massive and there are plenty of excellent alternatives to consider alongside the Kia Sportage. The Nissan Qashqai is the most popular option, and used examples offer decent value for money with low running costs and a comfortable driving experience.
The SEAT Ateca went on sale in 2016, around the same time the fourth generation Sportage was introduced. It looks great and has decent build quality, with a practical interior and good range of engines.
Another alternative is the Ford Kuga, which is also good value for money and one of the best-handling SUVs at this price point.
Finally, if you like the idea of getting your SUV muddy, the Land Rover Discovery Sport has a much more sophisticated four-wheel drive system so you’re unlikely to find anywhere it won’t go.
Thinking about buying a used Kia Sportage? You can browse the latest stock from a network of trusted dealers right here on carwow. And if you need to sell your old car first, we can help with that too.