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.


  • 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 Sportage (2004-2010)

After the mediocre first-generation Sportage, Kia's second take on the model was a massive improvement. Chunkier looks, a decent diesel engine, OK dynamics and plenty of standard kit made the Sportage a tempting proposition. It wasn't class leading, but when it came to reliability, few 4x4s had a better reputation. It's handy in the rough too, and offers plenty of cabin space, so if you're looking for a 4x4 and you're not out to impress anyone, check out the Sportage.

Key Dates

12/04: The second-generation Sportage reaches showrooms with 2.0 or 2.7 V6 petrol engines, or a 2.0CRDi diesel.

1/06: There's now a high-output 2.0CRDi available, with 138bhp instead of 111bhp.

4/07: The limited-run Titan arrives.

7/07: The Xi special edition debuts.

10/07: There's now a two-wheel drive option, with an automatic gearbox only. From here, all 2.0CRDi editions have the 138bhp engine and a six-speed manual gearbox (previously a five-speed).

4/08: The XR limited edition appears.

8/08: A facelift brings a redesigned grille, headlamps, tail lights, alloys plus modified wheelarches. There's extra standard equipment too.

Kia Sportage (2004-2010) Checklist

  • The brake pad wear sensor doesn't always work, leading to the brake discs getting damaged. Listen for untoward noises when braking.
  • The gearchange can become very stiff, with gear selection frustratingly difficult.
  • Be wary of a noisy gearbox too; complete failure is not unknown.
  • Diesel injectors can seize and/or fail.

We Like

  • Value
  • Ample kit levels
  • Spacious cabin
  • Reliability

We Don't Like

  • Lacklustre image
  • So-so dynamics
  • Cheap cabin plastics


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