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Kia Sportage 4×4 (2010 – ) expert review

By Andy Goodwin, 28th September 2010

The verdict

The Kia Sportage’s great looks, impressive spec and industry-leading warranty make it the most desirable Kia yet.

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Expert rating:

3.9

Pros

  • Great looks
  • Fantastic warranty
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Unrefined petrol engines
  • Disappointing interior
  • Smaller diesel lacks power

Full Review

1. Exterior

The bulbous curves of the original Kia Sportage have now been replaced by much bolder and sharper lines, giving it great looks, which better reflects the ‘Sport’ element in its name. Kia’s new family face suits the small SUV well, as does the strongly sculpted bonnet and LED daytime running lights. A crease running along its sides is a clever trick of the eye, which makes the Sportage appear lighter and smaller, and it’s also much more aerodynamic than the previous model.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

While not as exciting as the exterior, there’s plenty to like inside the Sportage. Buyers will love the raised seating position for a start. Controls are simply laid out and glow red at night, and the best feature is a large and clear speedometer, although higher specification models feature a trip computer in the middle which makes it harder to read the dials. The top-of-the-range model comes with climate control which sits in an attractive panel, replacing the less handsome air-con unit in other models. Materials are of good quality, although the entry-level model has less tactile, soft-touch plastics than other models. The design is less interesting than the Land Rover Freelander’s cabin, and not as classy as the Volkswagen Tiguan.
Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Black skirts around the bottom of the bumpers and sills should offer protection from stone chips and dirt flicked up by the tyres. The hatchback-type boot opens to reveal a low and wide loading bay with 564 litres of luggage space. Fold down the rear seats and this increases to 1,353 litres. A full-size spare wheel comes as standard.
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

It’s not quite as much fun as the Skoda Yeti, but compares well to the Nissan Qashqai. The ride is good, soaking up bumps well. The Sportage is available with two- or four-wheel drive. The two-wheel drive is sufficient for most, and on-road grip is perfectly acceptable. Its four-wheel drive system sends power to the front wheels in normal driving to save fuel, but will send as much as 40 per cent to the back wheels to aid traction if necessary. A ‘lock’ mode can send 50 per cent of power to the front and rear wheels below 25mph.
Our rating: 4

5. Performance

Four engines are available; two petrol and two diesel. Diesels account for the bulk of sales, and the 114bhp 1.7-litre engine will be sufficient for most, although it begins to struggle on steeper hills. The 134bhp 2-litre diesel is the pick of the range, however, offering enough performance for most, and should make a competent tow car. The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol punches above its weight in such a large car, and is quiet around town. At motorway speeds, it is quite noisy however.  All engines offer a 0-62mph time of around 11 seconds and top speeds around 110mph.
Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

The entry level 1.6 petrol and 2-litre diesel both emit 149g/km of CO2, although the larger engine betters the 1.6’s fuel economy by around 5mpg and returns nearly 50mpg. The 1.7 diesel will cover the most miles per gallon, with an official figure of 54.3mpg as well as emitting the least CO2 – 135g/km. Automatic gearboxes and four wheel drive both make significant dents in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and both figures vary depending on the size of wheels fitted, so it’s worth examining the road tax impact before choosing the car’s wheels.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Kia has a good reputation for reliability, and that long warranty gives owners peace of mind too. Recent models feel very well built, particularly the Sportage. All Kias come with a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

The Sportage is well equipped with standard stability control, front, side and curtain airbags and Isofix child-seat mounting points. In the event of a roll-over crash, sensors automatically deploy airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Kia has adopted an easy to understand range strategy, with a 1, 2, 3 naming system for two-wheel drive models and KX-1, KX-2 and KX-3 for four-wheel drive. All are well equipped, with the 1 and KX-1 offering alloys, air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows, daytime running lights, automatic wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. The 2 and KX-2 adds part-leather upholstery, tinted windows, park sensors, a panoramic sunroof, folding mirrors and a trip computer. The 3 and KX-3 models add full leather and heated seats front and rear, dual-zone climate control and an automatically-dimming rear view mirror.
Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

The Kia Sportage is an attractive well-equipped SUV offering good performance, without the big bills once associated with 4×4s. The model spearheads Kia’s ambition to become a desirable brand.
Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.9stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior3
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
Sportage 1.6 GDi 1 2WD
The cheapest Sportage is still well-specced
Best-seller:
Sportage 1.7 CRDi 2 2WD
‘2’ spec makes this the most popular Sportage
Blow the budget:
Sportage 2.0 CRDi KX-3 4WD
The four-wheel drive KX3 is the money-no-object choice

The Kia Sportage is an attractive well-equipped SUV offering good performance, without the big bills once associated with 4×4s