The Kia Sportage isn’t a car without merit. It does look the part, which is one of the main reasons for its success when it was new, and it has plenty of equipment and a better entertainment system than the Mazda CX-5. That warranty’s an enormous bonus, too.
The problem is, that simply isn’t enough to recommend the Sportage, as you have to live with too many compromises to enjoy its few benefits. It’s noisy, for starters, whether you’re pootling around town or out on the open road; then there’s the sloppy handling, the jarring ride, and the fact it looks like being less efficient, according to the official figures at least.
That means it’s a clear victory here for the CX-5. True, its entertainment system feels pretty old-fashioned, and it rides just a little too stiffly. And while it’s quieter than the Sportage, it still suffers from too much wind noise at speed.
But these are minor flaws, especially compared with the CX-5’s major benefits. It is by far the better car to drive and to ride in, it’s equipped with the smarter interior, it’s more efficient, considerably cheaper to tax and a lot more spacious. And for all this, you barely have to pay any more than the Kia. That makes it a top used SUV buy, and a worthy winner here.
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1st – Mazda CX-5
For Spacious and smart inside; great to drive; quiet engine; cheap tax
Against Firm ride; dated entertainment system; wind noise at speed
Verdict One of the very best used SUVs at this price point
2nd – Kia Sportage
For Well-equipped; decent entertainment system; warranty
Against Noisy; poor handling; jarring ride; so-so interior
Verdict Appeals to the head, but not the heart
Specifications: Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150 SE-L 2WD
Engine size 2.2-litre diesel
List price when new £23,295
Price today £14,500
Torque 280lb ft
Top speed 126mph
Fuel economy 61.4mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 119g/km
Specifications: 1.7 CRDi 3 2WD
Engine size 1.7-litre diesel
List price when new £23,100
Price today £14,000
Torque 192lb ft
Top speed 107mph
Fuel economy 52.3mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 143g/km
Price today is based on a 2014 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
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