Kia Sportage Review

If you’re looking for a mid-size SUV that suits pretty much every eventuality of family life and demands minimum effort from you, the Kia Sportage is well worth considering.

Published: 7 December 2022

  • Kia Sportage 2021- review

Summary

The latest, fifth-generation version of the Kia Sportage has a radical new look with its arrow-shaped lighting strips running down the sides of the front grille. Apart from its bold styling, it remains an extremely well thought-through family car that's easy to live with and will rise to just about any occasion.

Pros

  • Loads of passenger space
  • Big boot
  • Generously equipped

Cons

  • Styling not to everyone’s taste
  • Top-spec models are expensive
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

At first glance you might find the high-tech interior design of the Sportage, with its large display screens and absence of physical buttons, a bit intimidating. But it’s generally quite user-friendly. 

The central touchscreen display responds quickly when pressed or swiped, the graphics look sharp and you shouldn’t get lost navigating around the menus. You can use buttons on the steering wheel to control certain features like the stereo and phone.

Comfort

The Sportage is really comfy. Different trim levels have different seats, but they’re all just on the right side of firm – you don’t sink into them but they have some give. Some trim levels have electric seat adjustment, seat heating and even seat ventilation. The back seat reclines to help passengers stretch out or get some sleep.

You get the raised seating position you expect of an SUV and this can make it easier to get into the Sportage than, say, a typical saloon car. 

You get a decent view out of the front of the car; a reversing camera is standard on every version, which is helpful since the view out of the back isn’t as good.

Quality

Volkswagen used to be regarded as the benchmark for a quality car interior among the non-premium brands, but there’s a strong argument that Kia has assumed that position. Everything you use regularly in the Sportage – from the steering wheel, to the door handles, to the buttons, to the glovebox lid – has a premium feel and seems built to last.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

The Sportage is a fraction longer than some mid-size SUVs (such as the Nissan Qashqai or the Volkswagen Tiguan) and that pays dividends in passenger space. You get lots of room for four tall adults and even a fifth grownup in the middle back seat won’t feel too squeezed. As a family car, it has all the space you could really ever need. 

If you have small children, you should have no issues installing a child seat onto the Isofix mounts in the back, or lifting children in and out of the car. The back doors open wide and the height of the seat means you don’t really have to bend down.

There’s a lot of storage space around the interior. Most models also have two USB charging ports in the back.

Boot space

If a large boot space is a priority for you the Sportage is one of the best options among mid-size SUVs. Its 591-litre capacity (up to the load cover) is huge: it’s enough for either several bulky pushchairs, the kit for an under-11 football team, two cocker spaniels or camping gear for a week. In other words, there’s enough space to cover most family’s day-to-day needs.

The hybrid versions have slightly less capacity because their batteries take up some of the space, but even at its smallest 562-litre capacity, the Sportage has a bigger boot than many of its rivals.

Versatility

The Sportage’s back seats fold down in three sections, in a 40/20/40 split, using buttons on the back seats or levers in the boot. That’s a more versatile arrangement than the 60/40 split you get in most of the Kia’s rivals.

The seats fold level with the boot floor and the back bumper is level with the floor, so sliding in anything bulky and heavy is quite easy. You can fold down the middle section of the seat by itself, allowing you to carry a long load with passengers in the back.

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Driving

Driving experience

The driving experience you get in the Sportage is all about ease and comfort. The steering is light, you have a good view out from the driver’s seat and you get a smooth ride over most roads. The manual gearbox slots into gear with little effort and the automatics feel smooth and responsive. It’s not as responsive or as much fun as a Ford Kuga or a Seat Ateca, but It feels nimble enough around town and the reversing camera included as standard compensates for quite large rear blind spots when parking.

Get out of town onto higher-speed roads and the comfort theme continues. The Sportage  doesn’t get bounced around by bumps and holes in the road, although it leans a bit in corners. All in, it’s very secure and stable. That applies on motorways, too.

Performance

The Sportage offers perfectly adequate performance – it’s not especially fast nor especially slow. The most popular models have between 113bhp and 148bhp, which translates to reasonably nippy acceleration when pulling away from traffic lights, overtaking slow-moving vehicles or joining a motorway. The full- and plug-in hybrid models accelerate noticeably more quickly, especially when the car is carrying a full load of passengers and/or stuff in the boot.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

The Sportage is available with petrol or diesel engines, plus mild-hybrid, full-hybrid or plug-in hybrid power. In any case, the Sportage gives fuel economy that’s good, if not quite outstanding, for this type of car.

According to official figures, Sportage models with non-hybrid petrol power can give average of around 42mpg, with carbon dioxide (CO2 emissions of 152g/km. Non-hybrid diesels can give 54mpg and 136g/km.

The petrol and diesel engines are also available with a mild-hybrid system. For models with front-wheel drive, the petrol mild-hybrid gives slightly better fuel economy than the non-hybrid and the diesel mild-hybrid gives you the same economy as the non-hybrid diesel. In both cases, the mild-hybrid emits less CO2. (Mild-hybrids with four-wheel drive give a lower economy and higher CO2 emissions.) 

Let’s now look at the full-hybrid. Front-wheel-drive models can give 49mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km. Four-wheel-drive models, however, give 44mpg and 146g/km.

Lastly, there’s the plug-in hybrid. According to official figures, it can give you an average of 252mpg if you regularly recharge the battery. Emissions of 25g/km mean drivers of company cars can pay low benefit-in-kind tax rates.

Value for money

Overall, the Sportage offers very good value for money, certainly when considering the amount of space and features included as standard. Even top-of-the-range models, which are priced in premium-brand SUV territory, stack up when you start comparing their features against those of a premium-brand rival that costs similar money.

Reliability & Warranty

This fifth-generation version of the Sportage has been on sale only since late 2021, so it’s too early to make judgements about reliability. However, if history is anything to go by, it should prove to be very dependable: Kia cars regularly feature near the top of owner-satisfaction surveys.

If anything does go wrong, you have Kia’s industry-leading warranty to fall back on, which lasts for seven years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

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Safety

Safety features

Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded a full five-star safety rating to the Sportage. It has has lots of driver-safety features designed to help you out in an emergency. These include automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians and cyclists, lane-keeping assist and an intelligent speed limit system that can detect the limit in force at any given time.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

There are five trim levels to choose from on the Sportage:  2, GT-Line, 3, 4 and GT-Line S. The entry-level Sportage 2 has lots of features including a touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio and Bluetooth, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support; cruise control, climate control, multiple USB ports, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

Every other trim level also has sat nav. Near the top of the range, you get extra luxuries including a digital driver’s display, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable heated seats, a wireless charging pad and a Harmon/Kardon stereo.

GT-Line and GT-Line S models have bigger alloy wheels, deeper bumpers and a rear spoiler for a sportier look.

Engines

There are lots of engines available in the Sportage. You have the choice of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid, full-hybrid or plug-in hybrid power. The only thing you can’t have is fully-electric power. 

The 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine has 148bhp, the 1.6 CRDi diesel has 113bhp. Both engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

Mild-hybrid power (which Kia calls 48v) is available with both the petrol and diesel engine. It’s essentially an extra electrical system that helps improve fuel economy and cut CO2  emissions. The 48v petrol engine has no more power but the diesel does, up from 113 to 134bhp. All 48v models have a seven-speed automatic gearbox, but you do have the choice of front- or four-wheel drive.

Both the full-hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) combine the 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic gearbox. The HEV has 226bhp and can be driven on electric power for a couple of miles at low speed. The PHEV has 261bhp and has an electric-only range of 43 miles. The HEV is available with front- or four-wheel drive and the PHEV has four-wheel drive as standard.

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