Kia Sportage (1995-2003)

There are some cars that will never go down in history as all-time greats, and the Sportage is just such a vehicle. Bland in every way, it's hardly a landmark car - but it does redeem itself by offering reliability and a reasonable level of towing ability. However, refinement isn't great and it's dynamically tedious too. But with Sportages now worth little more than yesterday's newspapers, buy a good one and you can at least enjoy some top-notch reliability on a budget.

Key Dates

7/95: The Sportage arrives, in 2.0 petrol form only, with a choice of SLX, GLX or GLX SE trims.

6/96: The Executive and Executive SE join the range.

6/99: The old trim levels are replaced by S, SX and GSX derivatives.

7/00: A four-speed automatic transmission is now offered.

Kia Sportage (1995-2003) Checklist

  • With only a 2.0-litre petrol engine, the biggest problem is the Sportage's thirst.
  • Spare parts costs can be very high; if you're looking at a Sportage that needs any work, first investigate how much it'll cost to put right.
  • Front wheel bearings can be fragile, so listen for rumbling and chattering as you turn corners at speed; the noise will come from the outside of the bend as the weight is transferred to the duff bearing.

We Like

  • Reliability
  • Elevated seating position

We Don't Like

  • Lack of diesels
  • Lack of refinement
  • Lack of pace
  • Extremely dull dynamics