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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's cheap, well equipped, and flexible

Against It's cramped, short of safety kit, and poor to drive

Verdict Not a bad car but the same money will buy a much better one

Go for… 2.0 SX

Avoid… 2.0 Executive SE

Kia Sportage 4x4
  • 1. There's room for only two in the back, and legroom is tight
  • 2. With no height adjustment on the driver’s seat, the driving position is only fair
  • 3. The automatic gearbox struggles to decide which gear to be in, so you’re better off with the manual
  • 4. The boot is a decent size
  • 5. Look for face-lifted models (from July 2000 on), as not only are they sharper looking, they also come with more equipment
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Kia Sportage 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Kia Sportage was aimed squarely at the leisure market, and particularly at so-called 'soft-roaders' such as the Honda HR-V and Toyota RAV4. However, it never really hit the mark as it wasn’t spacious enough to be a genuine family car and certainly wasn’t as exciting to drive as a RAV4.

That said, there’s nothing massively wrong with it; it’s just that too many other cars are better. It has a firm, but controlled ride, for example, which doesn’t quite match the RAV4’s, but which is well ahead of dedicated off-roaders. Likewise, the 2.0-litre petrol engine gives it a decent turn of speed, but refinement could be better.

With no height adjustment on the driver’s seat, the driving position is only fair, and practicality is not great: there’s room for only two in the back, and legroom is tight, but at least the boot is a decent size.

Trade view

John Owen

One of the cheapest ways into a 4WD and you will see why when you drive it

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

There's no choice when it comes to engines: a single 2.0-litre petrol unit powered the Sportage through its entire life. To start with, a manual gearbox was the only option, and it was only after the face-lift in July 2000 that an automatic ’box became available. However, it struggles to decide which gear to be in, so you’re better off with the manual.

You’re also better off with one of these post-face-lift models, as not only are they sharper looking, they also come with more equipment.

At any age, it’s best to go for the trim that’s one rung up from the most basic. On early cars, that means GLX, but from July 2000 onwards it’s SX. The basic cars (SLX and, later, S) are just too basic, while the plusher trims (Executive and GSX) are still too dear.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Dropping in value now, 2.0 GSX and any special editions sell well

James Ruppert
Used car guru

At any age, a Sportage is several thousand pounds cheaper than a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or even a Hyundai Santa Fe from the same year.

It also matches the Honda and Toyota for insurance costs, and routine servicing should only be a little more expensive, if at all. What’s perhaps more critical is that the Sportage’s fuel economy is disappointing. When a RAV4 or CR-V can return about 30mpg, the Sportage’s 24mpg is not good at all.

On the other hand, if you need to have work done on a Sportage, there should be no nasty shocks coming your way. Warranty Direct says that, on average, labour rates at Kia dealers are among the lowest of any make. Mind you, that’s just as well, as the company also says that general repair costs are above average.

Trade view

John Owen

One of the cheapest ways into a 4WD and you will see why when you drive it

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Overall, the Sportage seems something of a oddity in the Kia range. At the same time as it was finishing bottom in recent JD Power surveys, the newer Sorento 4x4 was top of its class, and Warranty Direct tells us that claim rates on Kias are, in general, lower than average.

If you are buying a Sportage, check whether any potential purchase has been the subject of a recall. Cars built before the end of 1998 were recalled because of a possible fault with the front seat belt buckles, and cars built between November 2002 and April 2003 were recalled after concerns about the steering.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Dropping in value now, 2.0 GSX and any special editions sell well

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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