Used Kia Sportage 4x4 1995 - 2003 review

Category: Family SUV

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

      Used Kia Sportage 4x4 1995 - 2003 review
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      Steve Huntingford
      Published01 January 2006

      What's the used Kia Sportage 4x4 like?

      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.


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

      • It's cheap, well equipped
      • and flexible
      • It's cramped, short of safety kit
      • and poor to drive

      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.

      Ownership cost

      What used Kia Sportage 4x4 will I get for my budget?

      How much does it cost to run a Kia Sportage 4x4?

      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.

      Our recommendations

      Which used Kia Sportage 4x4 should I buy?

      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.


      What alternatives should I consider to a used Kia Sportage 4x4?