What's the used Kia Sportage 4x4 like?
Once upon a time, Kia was synonymous with rather blandly styled cars that whiffed of bargain-basement motoring. A major revolution in its design department led to a rash of exciting-looking models that capitalised on the huge growth in demand for modestly priced SUVs, with the resulting increase in sales pushing Kia's reputation to new levels.
What also helped the brand establish itself as a major player was an unmatched seven-year, 100,000-mile transferable warranty, which wooed new buyers almost as much as the sensous new styling. This handsome third-generation Sportage arrived in 2010 to take on the mighty Nissan Qashqai, which was at the time the undisputed king of the family SUV pack.
The Sportage came equipped for a good fight, too. Under the bonnet, the engine line-up consisted of 1.6-litre and a 2.0-litre petrols and 1.7-litre and 2.0-litre diesels, with the latter powerplant available in two states of tune.
Lower-powered engines came with Kia's ISG (Intelligent Stop and Go) stop-start system, while the 2.0-litre units get four-wheel drive. Automatic transmissions were available as an option with these engines.
As for trims, there were 1, 2, 3 and 3 Sat Nav on two-wheel-drive cars and KX-2, KX-3, KX-3 Sat Nav and KX-4 on all-wheel-drive models.
On the road, the Sportage isn't as engaging to drive as its main rivals. The 114bhp 1.7 diesel is economical but rather flat at low revs, while the 134bhp 2.0 engine is quicker but not very refined and used examples are more expensive.
In fact, the diesel engines aren't particularly smooth or quiet when revved, so for the most refined drive the petrol units are the best bet. However, whichever engine you go for, wind and road noise make their way into the interior too frequently.
The suspension is forgiving over large bumps, but vertical movements aren't well controlled. The steering isn't great, either, offering little precision, although it does remain light enough for easy town driving.
In terms of space and practicality, it's better news. The Sportage has plenty of room for four adults, although a raised transmission tunnel reduces rear middle-seat leg room. For the driver, there's a good range of adjustment on both the seat – which also provides great support – and steering wheel, while the dashboard is well laid out and simple to use.
Importantly, the Sportage is stacked with safety kit. Front, side and curtain airbags are found on every car, as well as active front head restraints. Isofix child seat mountings are also standard, along with stability control and a hill start system. All of this contributes to the Sportage's five-star Euro NCAP rating.