Kia Sportage (2016 – 2021) Review
Kia Sportage (2016 – 2021) At A Glance
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 It's since been replaced by an all-new 2022 Sportage.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.