Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The starting price for the Sportage just undercuts its equivalents from Skoda (the Karoq) and Seat (the Ateca), but, by the time you get farther up the range, the Sportage loses its ultra-competitive edge. Its resale values are strong, but if you're after PCP finance, the Karoq still tends to cost less per month.
If you're a company car driver and keen to keep your benefit-in-kind (BiK) tax payments low, you'll find the petrol engines' CO2 emissions are uncompetitive compared with the Karoq's and Ateca's. However, the diesel we recommend – the 1.6 CRDi 134 – isn't much higher on emissions than the Karoq 2.0 TDI 150. The 1.6 CRDi 134 with 48V mild hybrid tech is better still, although because you can only get it on more costly, higher trim levels, its higher price can cancel out any potential savings you’d make through increased fuel economy.
Equipment, options and extras
Kia doesn’t really do options; you just have to pick the trim that suits you best, and then it’s a question of whether to add metallic paint. Chances are you'll want to, because the only no-cost colours are white and black.
The trim range is a bit convoluted, being numbered from 1 through 4 (with Platinum Edition in place of a 3 trim) and two sporty GT-Line trims topping the range. We'll try to make sense of it for you.
If you’re just after a family SUV and aren’t too bothered about luxuries, 1 trim is tempting. You get air conditioning, 16in alloy wheels, electric windows and the infotainment features and rear-view camera we mentioned earlier. However, although you have to step up to Platinum Edition for automatic emergency braking, we reckon 2 trim makes the most financial sense. It adds luxuries including heated front and rear seats, power-fold door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, rear privacy glass and 17in alloy wheels, along with additional safety and infotainment kit. Go any higher than 2 trim and the extra toys are appealing but the increased cost isn't.
Kia as a brand came an impressive sixth out of 31 manufacturers in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey for cars aged one to four years old. The Sportage came top in the family SUV class, so there’s a very good chance that Sportage ownership will be trouble-free.
Don’t forget there’s also Kia's seven-year warranty to fall back on; it’s the best in the class by some margin.
Safety and security
With six airbags and trailer stability assist (which helps to counteract the effects of a trailer swaying) standard on even the entry-level model, the Sportage has some interesting safety kit. Even more comprehensive is 2 trim, which gives you a traffic sign recognition system that displays speed limits on the instrument cluster. It also adds lane-keeping assistance.
However, it's disappointing that blindspot monitoring and automatic emergency braking (AEB) are only standard on Platinum Edition, 4 and GT-Line S models. These essential features can't be added to other models, even as an optional extra. Many rivals get AEB across the range, and Kia would do well to at least offer it as an option on the cheaper trims.
The Sportage was awarded a five star safety rating when tested by Euro NCAP in 2015, but the organisation's test procedures have become more stringent since then. It's likely that the Skoda Karoq, which was given five stars in 2017, will afford its occupants greater protection should the worst happen.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here