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New Kia Sportage vs used Volvo XC40

Around £30,000 will buy you a shiny new Kia Sportage family SUV, but is that money better spent on something with a prestige badge, like a used Volvo XC40?...

New Kia Sportage vs used Volvo XC40 driving sideview

The contenders

NEW Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDi 2WD 3

List price £30,945
Target price £30,129

The Sportage is a great all-rounder. Here we're testing it with the entry-level petrol engine

USED Volvo XC40 B4 R-Design

Price new £35,055
Price today £30,000*

Comfortable, practical and classy, the XC40 has long ranked among our favourite family SUVs

*Price today is based on a 2020 model with average mileage and a full service history and is correct at the time of writing

Say what you want about the movies of Michael Bay, but you can't deny that they stand out visually. And it looks like the Kia Sportage is using a similar strategy to succeed in the vastly competitive family SUV market.

With its arrowhead daytime running lights and triple-level front grille, it definitely catches the eye. But unlike the work of Mr Bay, the Sportage isn't a case of style over substance. In fact, specced with the entry-level petrol engine and in mid-range 3 trim, it represents fantastic value.

Kia Sportage front cornering

However, while the Sportage is currently unmatched as a new buy, is it still the best car of its kind when you expand your search to include used models?

To find out we've lined up a former What Car? Car of the Year, the Volvo XC40, which goes for similar money at three years old. Our example has the B4 petrol engine, which features mild hybrid technology to improve efficiency.

Volvo XC40 2022 front cornering


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

In our hands, the Sportage, with its 148bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, sprinted from 0-60mph in a respectable 8.9sec. The XC40 and its 197bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit easily bested that time, mind you, requiring just 7.8sec. 

Don't get us wrong, the Sportage never feels frustratingly slow. But you'll likely appreciate the extra punch of the XC40 on motorways and when looking to overtake. 

Kia Sportage 2022 rear cornering

What you won't appreciate when driving the XC40 is its rather dim-witted automatic gearbox. When you ask for a sudden burst of acceleration, it doesn't respond as quickly as you'd want, even when you select the livelier Dynamic mode. 

The Sportage we have here is a manual 'box (an automatic is available) and we're not thrilled by it either, because it isn't that slick and the clutch pedal is overly light, meaning you can find yourself over-revving the engine when pulling away. Past experience has shown us that the auto is worth the extra.

Volvo XC40 2022 rear cornering

Both of these SUVs have steering that's accurate enough, but it's the Sportage's that weights up more in bends and provides that bit of extra reassurance. The XC40, aided by the fairly taut suspension of our R-Design car, has slightly better body control in the corners, mind you.

As for ride comfort and refinement, the XC40 generally has the edge, but neither car is overly firm, and both are quiet enough to make long motorway journeys pretty relaxing.