Kia Sportage (2016 – 2021) Review

Kia Sportage (2016 – 2021) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
There's little to fault with the Sportage. It's a really good, great value crossover that's very easy to recommend.

+One of the best crossovers on the market, well-equipped, seven-year warranty, practical and spacious.

-Dull to drive, weak petrol engines, divisive styling.

Insurance Groups are between 11–25
On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure

The Kia Sportage is one of the UK’s most popular family cars. Launched in 2016, it’s the chief rival to the Nissan Qashqai and the countless other SUVs in this crowded market. It’s also backed by a seven-year warranty, while even the entry-level Sportage ‘2’ comes with a long list of standard equipment. A facelift in 2018 means later cars are even better, thanks to new engines, including a 1.6-litre diesel unit with mild hybrid technology. It's since been replaced by an all-new 2022 Sportage.

The Kia Sportage is the family SUV for people who don’t fancy a Nissan Qashqai. That might be a bit unfair, but the Sportage has been playing second fiddle to the Qashqai for many years. So why should you choose the Kia over the all-conquering Nissan?

Let’s get the obvious point out of the way first: the seven-year warranty. It means that even a launch model – this generation of Sportage arrived in 2016 – is covered until 2023. Buy a 2018 facelift car, and the Sportage is guaranteed until 2025 (assuming you don’t exceed the 100,000 miles cap).

But to paraphrase Alan Partridge, there’s more to the Kia Sportage than this. Even without the benefit of a long warranty, the Sportage would be a worthy alternative to the Qashqai. Good enough to be the king of the mainstream SUVs, in fact.

Not everyone likes the styling, but we think it is ageing well, especially since the 2018 facelift. This is certainly true of models with LED headlights and ‘ice cube’ fog lights. The 19-inch alloy wheels – standard on all except the Sportage 2 – do a grand job of filling the arches.

Inside, the Sportage looks very Germanic, but while it can’t quite match the premium Europeans in terms of perceived quality, the actual quality is very good. A Sportage will see you through to the end of its warranty without a problem.

It’s also very well-equipped. Kia has ditched the basic Sportage 1, which means the ‘2’ is the new entry-level model.

It features 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other trim levels are even more lavish. Heck, the GT-Line S feels almost premium.

The Sportage has always felt at its best with a diesel engine. This is certainly true following the 2018 facelift, thanks to the addition of a 1.6-litre diesel engine with mild hybrid technology. It offers the best blend of performance and economy, and is wildly superior to the 1.6-litre petrol engines. The non-turbocharged petrol unit is best avoided.

Most Sportage models will leave a Kia showroom in front-wheel-drive guise, but all-wheel-drive is available as an option.

It makes the Sportage feel a little more surefooted, although all versions are thoroughly pleasant to drive. Ride quality suffers a little on models with 19-inch wheels, so this could be one reason to opt for the Sportage 2.

It’s by no means a fun car to drive. However, the raised driving position, light steering and predictable handling combine to make it perfect for its target market. We’d certainly recommend a post-2018 Sportage over a Nissan Qashqai, which is showing its age.

Come for the seven-year warranty, but stay for the long list of standard equipment, the impressive cabin and the mild hybrid diesel engine. Still want that Qashqai? 

If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Kia Sportage review

Ask Honest John

Should I buy a car without a full service history?
"I am considering buying a Kia Sportage from a main dealer with 30,539 miles on the clock. It was first registered in February 2017 with a 66 plate and is priced at £16,750. It has one registered owner. My concern is the car only has year three and four service history, with years one and two missing. The dealer cannot find the record either. What are the potential pitfalls in proceeding? Should I use it to negotiate a better price? "
A patchy service history can be very serious. Not only could this void the seven-year Kia warranty but the car may have also suffered undue wear and tear due to the fact the owner has skipped vital maintenance tasks, like an oil and filter change. I'd expect the dealer to find the missing service history or offer the car at a much-reduced price (at least a 20 per cent discount) to reflect the fact it has no manufacturer warranty.
Answered by Dan Powell
What should I replace my Nissan Note with?
"Our 2010 Nissan Note has been a faithful servant but it is time to move on. I am looking for something more refined, quiet and confident feeling on Motorway and A roads and with a bit more space and more up to date. I also like the idea of more safety and other modern kit like parking sensors and cameras. The Note also lacks a bit of oomph for overtaking and Welsh hills. My budget is under £15,000 for a 2017 or, ideally, newer car, with good reliability (I'm used to Japanese cars) and decent fuel economy. A good all-rounder that can cope with holidays, camping and visiting relatives as well as everyday use would suit. Your advice would be welcome as we tend to buy a car and keep it for a good while and so I don't want to mess up. "
By the sounds of it, you probably need more space than a family hatchback can offer but don't want a car that feels too big to drive. If that's the case, I would have a look at an SUV. There are no bad choices of the cars you mention above and you can read reviews of the lot on Honest John but the model I would go for is the Kia Sportage. Why? The Kia Sportage is well equipped and nice to drive, and you can choose from petrol, diesel and hybrids – avoid the entry-level versions and you'll find they all have plenty of power for overtaking and dealing with hills. The Sportage has loads of room inside – loads of space on the back seat and a boot that'll swallow pretty much anything you throw at it. It's also well designed with plenty of smaller storage spaces and boot that has handy features like shopping hooks and a 12V socket. All models are well equipped with an infotainment screen that has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so you can mirror the display of your phone. The best part of the Sportage is that you'll have no problem finding a car that has the balance of its manufacturer's warranty.
Answered by Russell Campbell
Which tyres should I choose for Kia Sportage?
"I have a Kia Sportage 2.0-litre hybrid diesel 2019. So far so good. The tyres from new are Continental 245/45/R19 98W and have done 18,000 miles. My local Kia dealer suggests Ilink 245/45/19 W 392 as a good value replacement at £132 each. Mileage circa 8,000 per year. "
When it comes to choosing new tyres, it's worth putting your car reg into a website like Kwik Fit or Blackcircles (plenty more to choose from). They'll tell you what tyres fit your car and rate them for things like dry/wet weather grip and noise. They also have user reviews that should give you a good idea what's option is best for you and your budget. I've never heard of IIink tyres but if the reviews are good, I see no reason not to use them, although they're unlikely to perform as well as a household brand.
Answered by Russell Campbell
Can I change my Kia Sportage wheels for off-road driving?
"On your advice I have bought a Kia Sportage. I’m just wondering about the wheels. It has low profile tyres and I’m concerned that these may not be sufficiently robust for off-road driving. Is it possible to replace the wheels (19-inch) with a smaller size wheel and high profile tyres? "
I am not sure which generation Sportage you bought – a new model has just been released – but you should be able to swap your 19-inch wheels for 16 or 17-inch versions that'll allow for more off-road-biased tyres.
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

What does a Kia Sportage (2016 – 2021) cost?