4 out of 5 4.0
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Now one of the classiest and comfiest options, but not the cheapest

Kia Sportage SUV (22 on) - rated 4 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £26,745 - £40,245
Lease from new From £251 p/m View lease deals
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Road tax cost £145 - £155
Insurance group 15 - 25 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Smart, well-equipped cabin
  • Great infotainment
  • Spacious and practical

CONS

  • Overly light steering
  • Not as fun to drive as some others
  • PHEV is pricey

Kia Sportage SUV rivals

Written by Vicky Parrot on

Is the new Kia Sportage any good?

Let’s talk about what it is, before we give up the goodies on whether the Kia Sportage can top this incredibly competitive class. After all, there is such a kaleidoscope of differing SUVs and crossovers out there in this price range, that it can be hard to figure out exactly what each one is trying to achieve.

Suffice to say that the Kia Sportage – now in its third generation – is a rival for the hordes of mid-sized family SUVs out there, ranging from the Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai through to the VW Tiguan and even the Sportage’s own platform-sharing sister, the Hyundai Tucson. In terms of size, the Sportage splits the difference between the Skoda Karoq and Skoda Kodiaq, but is closer on price to the Kodiaq.

There’s a wide variety of powertrains to choose from, with petrol or diesel mild hybrids at the bottom of the range, or a full hybrid and plug-in hybrid is on offer as well, so you can have any level of electrification you want as long as it’s not full electric. For a pure electric alternative to the Sportage, look to the Skoda Enyaq iV, VW ID.4 or Ford Mustang Mach-E.

What's it like inside? 

Seriously smart. The strong horizontal lines across the dash and raised centre console makes you feel nicely cocooned, and the blend of gloss plastics, metal-effect inserts and the slick, touch-sensitive screen and shortcut panel all look appealingly classy. The part-alcantara upholstery on our top-spec GT-Line S test car also helps to elevate the whole thing, so much so that it’s not hard at all to see that you might consider this instead of an Audi or BMW, never mind the similarly plush VW Tiguan.

Entry level ‘2’ trim makes do with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and small driver’s readout, but most buyers will opt for one of the higher spec models that come with the 12.3-inch touchscreen and much bigger digital driver’s readout. You get all the infotainment features you want in every Sportage, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio.

The system menus are mostly quite logical, and this is one of the best touchscreen systems out there short of those in far more expensive premium alternatives. The black panel beneath the screen shows touch-sensitive air-con controls (with simple rotary switches for the temperature adjustment, thankfully), or a press of an icon changes it to show shortcuts to your audio, nav and other functions in the touchscreen. Clever, although it is a bit of a faff to have to flick between the two functions while you’re driving.

Other niggles include a driver’s seat that would benefit from dropping a little lower, and visibility through the fairly narrow rear windscreen is more restrictive than in boxier rivals like the Skoda Karoq, but otherwise it’s easy to get comfortable and there’s plenty of space even for tall drivers.

The rear seats are also spacious enough that two tall adults will be comfortable, but the raised floor in the middle will make a central occupant feel a bit short straw.

You can recline the rear seat backs in a 60/40 split, and they fold flat in a 40/20/40 fashion (useful for through-loading long items while still carrying passengers) easily via the side doors or levers in the boot.

In the mild hybrid models, the Sportage gets a very decent 591 litres of boot space, and you sacrifice only 4 litres in the full hybrid – which retains a useful amount of underfloor storage. The plug-in hybrid gets 540 litres but it’s still got a bigger boot than many rivals.

Kia Sportage engines

Other than a pure electric option, there’s an engine for everyone in the Kia Sportage lineup. The entry-level options include mild-hybrid 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines, the former offering 148bhp and the latter either 113bhp with a manual six-speed gearbox, or 134bhp with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both of the automatic versions of the mild hybrid petrol and diesel Sportage can also be had with four-wheel drive, rather than the standard front-wheel drive. 0-62mph times vary from just under 10 seconds to well over 12 seconds, so don’t expect sparkling acceleration from these turbocharged, four-cylinder engines.  

The full hybrid is also available with front- or four-wheel drive. It gets a 1.5kWh battery that delivers a boost in performance and a useful amount of intermittent pure electric running at low speeds. Mated to the 1.6-litre petrol engine and a six-speed automatic transmission as standard, it gets 227bhp and will do 0-62mph in around 8.0 seconds. CO2 emissions of between 125- and 140g/km, and economy of between 47- and 51mpg is the real appeal, especially for company car buyers.

A plug-in hybrid is the most efficient option. We’d expect its 13.8kWh battery to offer a pure electric range of around 30 miles, but official WLTP range and economy figures are yet to be confirmed. The 1.6-litre petrol features again, delivering peace of mind for when you can’t plug in and charge up the battery. Total power output is up to 261bhp, with standard four-wheel drive helping it to 62mph in 8.2 seconds.

What's it like to drive?

Comfy and refined, rather than anything particular sporting. If you do want a family SUV with a bit of vim to its handling, check out the Seat Ateca or Ford Kuga, but if you just want something that’s serene, relaxed and secure, the Kia Sportage is spot on. There are only two drive modes – Sport and Eco – but even in Sport the steering is very light and a little inconsistent. It’s great for wheeling around roundabouts and tight town roads, but could be more confidence-inspiring in faster bends.

It’s certainly fast enough in the full hybrid ‘Sportage HEV’ guise, and while the six-speed automatic gearbox shifts quite slowly, it’s also smooth and does what you expect it to.

Ride comfort is mostly very good, especially at town speeds when it soaks up patchwork surfaces with ease. At higher speeds you get a heavy thump and shudder through the cabin over bigger potholes or sunken drain covers, but generally the spongey, long-legged gait will keep everyone on board happy. The Sportage does roll quite noticeably in corners, but nothing too dramatic. One caveat here is that our European-spec car came on adaptive dampers, which aren’t available in the UK.

Our four-wheel drive, full-hybrid test car was impressively quiet even on the motorway, with wind, tyre and even engine noise just a calm, distant thrum. As long as you avoid accelerating very aggressively, which has the coarse-sounding petrol engine revving too hard, and the Sportage is impressively hushed.

Ultimately, this just isn’t a car that encourages or feels very at home in fast driving, and that’s absolutely fine because the Sportage is one of the more comfortable and refined options in the class, which is sure to be of more value to most buyers.

What models and trims are available?

The cheapest Kia Sportage 2 trim is only available with the mild hybrid engines, but the rest of the trim range can be specced with any of the powertrains. Even ‘2’ trim gets auto LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, climate control for those in the front and back, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, 17-inch alloy wheels and black cloth upholstery, but misses out on the bigger touchscreen, part-alcantara upholstery, adjustable driver’s lumbar support and keyless entry that will persuade most buyers into GT-Line or up.

GT-Line and GT-Line S are also the designated sportier trims, so get gloss black grille and exterior style highlights. 

Go for a Sportage ‘3’ and you get more comfort kit, including heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel and electric front seat adjustment, while 4 and GT Line S are the fully loaded options that get panoramic glass roof, Harman Kardon sound system and wireless phone charging. GT Line S is differentiated with the style extras, and it’s the only Sportage that can be optioned with a contrast black roof.

Safety kit is very good on every Sportage, with lane-keep assist and forward collision assist that’ll brake if it senses an imminent collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist. You have to go for 4 or GT Line to get Kia’s clever blind-spot camera system, which automatically pops up a camera view of the side of the car when you indicate.

What else should I know? 

While the lesser models are fairly competitively priced against many rivals, it’s worth noting that alternatives like the Skoda Karoq are usefully cheaper. The plug-in hybrid Sportage is particularly pricey; you can get plug-in hybrid versions of the VW Tiguan and Ford Kuga PHEV for quite a bit less if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of equipment.

There’s no seven seat Kia Sportage. For that sort of carrying capacity, check out the Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008 or the bigger Kia Sorento.

Kia Sportage SUV rivals

Other Kia Sportage models: