Kia Sportage

Kia

Kia Sportage (2010-2016)

It was the original Picanto that showed Kia’s potential, but when the third-generation Sportage appeared in 2010 the Korean manufacturer realised that potential. This sharp-looking SUV came with concept car looks, a long warranty, generous equipment levels and a healthy dose of practicality – yet it was every bit as affordable as you’d expect a Kia to be. Accounting for around a quarter of Kia’s sales in the UK, when the Sportage Mk3 was current it was the company’s biggest-selling model and it’s not hard to see why. As a used buy the Sportage is just as enticing.

Key dates

11/10: The Sportage Mk3 arrives with 1.6 or 2.0-litre petrol engines, along with 1.7 or 2.0 CRDi diesels. The smaller engines have front-wheel drive; the 2.0-litre models get standard four-wheel drive and an optional automatic gearbox. There are three trim levels (1, 2 and 3, with 4WD models getting a KX prefix).

7/12: There’s a new range-topper; the KX-4.

2/14: A facelifted Sportage brings extra equipment, more options and minor styling changes. 

7/15: The limited edition Axis is restricted to 1200 cars and is offered with 1.6 GDi or 1.7 CRDi engines. It sits between the 2 and 3 trims.

Checklist

  • There’s no seven-seat option; if you need more than five seats you’ll have to trade up to a Sorento. 
  • All diesel-engined Sportages have a diesel particulate filter (DPF), so if you’re a low-mileage driver go for a petrol-engined car.
  • Some early cars could suffer from wind noise from the glass sunroof; adjusting the mechanism fixes it.
  • The 1.7 CRDi can suffer from a loss of power. Replacing the fuel filter can fix things.
  • If you’re towing buy a KX-4. It has 282lb ft of torque instead of the 236lb ft of the regular 2.0 CRDi engine.
  • The front seats can suffer from tears along the sides of the base, near the front. 
  • Some cars pull to one side, usually the left. Resetting the electric power steering software helps.
  • The standard headlights are poor, so many owners uprate the bulbs. Even the xenon items aren’t that great.
  • Corroded alloy wheels aren’t unusual.

We like

  • Sharp looks
  • Generous equipment levels
  • Practicality
  • Reliability
  • Value
  • Frugal engines

We don’t like

  • So-so dynamics

Kia

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