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.
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.
- Elevated seating position
We Don't Like
- Lack of diesels
- Lack of refinement
- Lack of pace
- Extremely dull dynamics