It feels wishy washy and it's noisy too
Good driving position and user-friendly dash, but rear view is limited
Lots of safety provision as standard and good crash test results
Feels solid and should prove reliable
Doesn't come close to most SUV rivals for space or practicality
Loads of kit for the money
Two diesels engines are offered, but the 1.7 is rather lifeless at low revs and the 2.0, which powers the four-wheel-drive versions, still needs to be worked in some gears though it is much quicker. Both diesels are noisy when revved hard, too. In fact, our pick is the more refined 1.6 petrol, which is also perkier than the smaller diesel and cheap to buy. There's also a 2.0 petrol which we've yet to try. The Sportage is quite comfortable to ride in but it tends to bounce up and down on uneven roads and the steering lacks feel which makes the car unnerving to drive on motorways and winding roads. There's a good deal of wind and road noise at speed, too.
Some of the cabin plastics feel a bit cheap compared to a Nissan Qashqai or Volkswagen Tiguan and the switches don't move with the same precision. However, it's easy to get comfortable and the dash is a doddle to use, although thick front pillars and a small rear windscreen hamper some visibility. Unfortunately, space and practicality are not a strong point for the Sportage: four can sit comfortably but a large central tunnel makes life difficult for a centre rear passenger and the boot isn't any bigger or more clever than a small family hatchback's. On the plus side, even entry-level '1' trim brings plenty of kit including alloys, air-con, four electric windows, a rain sensor, Bluetooth and cruise control. '2' trim includes parking sensors and a sunroof, while '3' adds more treats. There are Isofix points on the two outer rear seats, complete with top-tether points.
Although some of the cabin materials feel a bit lightweight, the Sportage feels solid and well built. It also comes with a reassuring seven-year warranty, and it's a good sign that the previous incarnation of the Sportage was the overall winner of the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey. All models come with a full array of safety kit, including active front head restraints, stability control and curtain airbags that extend back to the rear seats, and the Sportage achieved the maximum five stars in crash tests by Euro NCAP, including 93% for adult occupants and 86% for child occupants, which beats a BMW X3. You can deactivate the front passenger airbag if you want to place a rear-facing child seat here.
The Kia is cheap considering how much equipment you get and it shouldn't cost too much to run as long as you stay away from the optional automatic gearbox, which saps fuel. Re-sale values are pretty strong, too. Just bear in mind that the Sportage isn't particularly practical and it's not that great to drive.