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Expert Review

Kia Sportage SUV (2018 - ) review

Read about the popular Kia Sportage, a mid-size SUV competing in one of the most competitive sectors of the new car market and a deservedly popular choice with family drivers

The Auto Trader expert verdict:


The Sportage is one of the most popular mid-sized SUVs on sale, and with good reason. It might not dazzle in any one area of expertise but its all-round excellence in the ones that matter mean it appeals to a broad spectrum of customers. The Sportage was named by the public as the Best Car for Towing in the 2019 Auto Trader New Car Awards.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickDecent handling
  • tickGood quality interior
  • tickExcellent reliability record

At a glance:

Running costs for a Kia Sportage

We’ve compared the 136-horsepower, 1.6-litre diesel Sportage 2 – which is likely to be one of the biggest selling models – with a couple of its main rivals, the Seat Ateca and the Nissan Qashqai. All three are virtually the same price to buy. You get more power in the Kia than the equivalent Ateca or Qashqai, because the Sportage’s entry-level 116 horsepower diesel engine is only available in the most basic trim. That does mean, however, that fuel economy in the Sportage isn’t as good as the 115-horsepower rivals. This is offset by a strong predicted resale value for the Kia though, which according to industry expectations will hold its worth better than either rival. All of this means that overall, the Sportage is broadly on a par with its rivals when it comes to cost.
Expert rating: 4/5

Reliability of a Kia Sportage

Kia’s position in the respected JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study has slipped a little in recent years but it’s still comfortably in the top 10 for manufacturers and ahead of Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and more. At a model-specific level by the same study the Sportage is mid-field, though customer service is a less rosy picture. Hopefully you won’t need to trouble it though, Kia’s trademark seven-year warranty pointing to a confidence in its products reflected in their overall dependability.
Expert rating: 4/5

Safety for a Kia Sportage

In a common policy across all its models Kia reserves the more sophisticated driver assistance safety features for the more expensive models. So, you don’t get automated emergency braking to avoid urban hazards like pedestrians or blind spot warnings to alert you to unseen cars on the motorway, features that are now commonly standard in rivals, even more ‘premium’ ones like Volkswagen. The fact you can’t even option them as extras to the more basic models effectively forces you into the fancier ones if this is the tech you want, which seems out of step with industry trends. As a base on all models you do get six airbags (front, side and curtain), rear Isofix child seat mounts and a system to automatically stablise the car while towing. This was recognised in the 2019 Auto Trader New Car Awards, where the Sportage won Best Car for Towing.
Expert rating: 3/5

How comfortable is the Kia Sportage

On the road, the most crucial aspect of a family car is ride comfort, and the Sportage is definitely tuned to be on the soft side, which is perfect for keeping everyone on board comfy. We did detect a hint of firmness over sharper bumps, though, and for that reason we'd avoid fitting large alloy wheels. The Sportage is also nicely composed in the bends, too. You get extremely strong grip and progressive body roll that is easy to manage, so it's fairly nimble when changing direction. A Seat Ateca is a bit keener though. The interior of the Sportage is functional and well made without being particularly eye-catching, and it doesn’t have the top quality boasted by Skoda Karoq. Still, everything is easy to find and use, the seats are comfortable and the infotainment system, while not particularly jazzy, is similarly functional. As a car aimed at families the Sportage needs to be comfortable, spacious and practical and it nails those objectives. Two six-foot adults can comfortably ride in the back behind two similarly sized front-seat passengers and even the central seat on the rear bench is a viable option. The rear seat backs recline too, which is a nice touch too, although some rivals do offer sliding seats as standard. The boot is also a good size and there’s tons of space with the seats folded.
Expert rating: 3/5

Features of the Kia Sportage

Kia has a consistent trim range across all its cars, following a simple numerical progression topped with GT-Line models and spiced up on occasion with limited editions. Equipment is decent on all, even the entry-level one getting leather trim for steering wheel and gearstick, a reversing camera, cruise control, DAB, Bluetooth and the ability to connect your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use your preferred navigation app via the central touchscreen. Factory-fitted navigation and a bigger screen are standard as you progress up the range along with leather upholstery, upgraded JBL sound system, panoramic roof, electrically adjustable seats and more. GT Line models get a distinct look, thanks to ‘dark chrome’ exterior trim and a specific 19-inch wheel style.
Expert rating: 4/5

Power for a Kia Sportage

We liked the 1.7-litre diesel in the previous version of the Sportage and its 1.6-litre replacement is available in two power levels, the more potent of which is more or less comparable with the engine it replaces and the likely sweetspot in the range, though we haven’t driven it yet. 1.6-litre Sportages are available in front- or all-wheel drive versions with a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed ‘dual-clutch’ automatic. The more powerful 2.0-litre diesel is all-wheel drive only and has the option of a smoother eight-speed automatic. It’s nice but expensive to buy and run. There’s also a 1.6-litre petrol engine, again with the option of front- or all-wheel drive and, likewise, manual or seven-speed automatic. You can have it in standard 132 horsepower form or turbocharged with 176 horsepower. In the former it feels disappointingly underpowered while the latter doesn’t pull as hard as the numbers suggest it should, even when you rev it hard.
Expert rating: 3/5

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