Kia

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 Carens (2006-2013)

As consumers embrace the crossover market, people-carriers are becoming ever less popular. As a result, some of the greatest used car bargains can sit in this sector, and when it comes to value, few cars can compete with the second-generation Kia Carens. It offered a huge amount for the money when new, and strong depreciation has ensured that on the used market you get even more bang for your buck. Look beyond the clunky styling and you’ll find a car that’s comfortable with ample space for the family – so if you’re after maximum practicality for minimum outlay, take a closer look. 

 

Key dates

8/06: The Carens Mk2 reaches showrooms with 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines, featuring five- or six-speed manual gearboxes respectively; diesel buyers can opt for a four-speed auto.

3/08: A four-speed automatic gearbox is now offered with the 2.0-litre petrol engine, in the 2.0 LS.

2/09: A 1.6-litre petrol engine joins the range.

1/10: There’s now a 111bhp 1.6 CRDi diesel option.

 

Checklist

  • The automatic gearbox doesn’t feel very sophisticated; the fact it has just four gears doesn’t help.
  • Diesel editions driven mainly around town can suffer from a failed dual-mass flywheel in less than 50,000 miles.
  • Some cars pull to one side, because the suspension geometry needs to be adjusted.
  • Make sure the rear door handles work; the mechanism can snap, making it difficult to fix as the door won’t open for access.
  • The handbrake is actually a footbrake, which on cars with a manual gearbox can make hill starts awkward when starting off on a steep hill.
  • Not all Carens have seven seats, and when they are fitted, that third row is cramped, even for children.
  • There can be gear selection issues with the manual gearbox. Changing the oil and adjusting the linkage should fix things.

 

We like

  • Keen prices
  • Practicality
  • Spacious cabin
  • Seven seats
  • Large boot

 

We don’t like

  • Cramped third row
  • Awkward styling
  • Stodgy dynamics
  • Cheap interior plastics

Kia

Kia Picanto (2004-2011)

If ever there was a car that turned round a company's fortunes it was the Picanto, which proved Kia was capable of producing genuinely great cars. With its relatively generous equipment levels, spacious cabin and generally excellent build quality, the Picanto is surprisingly good to drive too, while running costs are commendably low. Most Picanto owners have also enjoyed excellent reliability too; it's no wonder the Picanto is so sought after.

Key Dates

5/04: The Picanto arrives in five-door hatch form only and with a choice of 1.0 or 1.1-litre engines, the latter with an automatic or manual transmission.

1/08: A facelifted Picanto debuts, with a new nose, revised tail plus column stalks that were switched so the indicators were now on the left.

The designations were also revised, with 2, Ice and 3 sitting above the entry-level model known simply as Picanto.

Kia Picanto (2004-2011) Checklist

  • Handbrakes can fail once the car has been left; the rear discs cool and contract.
  • The Picanto is popular with driving schools, so look at who has owned the car before.
  • Crankshaft retaining bolts can wear or break, wrecking the engine.
  • There's a canister of foam instead of a spare wheel, but the well in the boot floor can accommodate a full-sized wheel.
  • If the idle speed is all over the place when the car is started, it's usually a sticking idle speed control or faulty throttle positioning sensor.
  • Anti-roll bar bushes dry out, leading to creaking from the steering.
  • No chassis number in the bottom of the windscreen? The screen has been replaced.
  • Oil on the underside of the engine suggests the crankshaft oil seal has failed.

We Like

  • Spacious cabin
  • Value
  • Reliability
  • Looks
  • Agility

We Don't Like

  • Sluggish
  • Tiny boot

Kia

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

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