Even though fuel prices are high and drivers’ wallets under pressure, small 4x4s have never been more popular. As a result, decent second-hand compact SUVs can be costly to buy, as they retain their value so well.
But there’s an exception to every rule, and in the small 4x4 class the Kia Sportage Mk2 is it. Lacklustre looks and a dowdy image have kept prices low, even though it’s very capable at towing, off-roading and family duties. It’s no wonder owners love the Kia; they know how talented it is.
The Sportage Mk2 hit dealers in January 2005, initially with 2.0 or 2.7-litre V6 petrol engines. Within two months there was also a 2.0 diesel, rated at 111bhp but then raised to 138bhp in October 2007.
The 2.7 V6 and 2.0 CRDi had manual or automatic boxes, while all Sportages featured a part-time 4WD system that sent power to each corner only when needed.
From November 2007, 2.0-litre petrol and diesel versions were offered with 2WD and an auto, then in August 2008 a facelift brought a restyled nose and tail, as well as front and rear lights and extra standard equipment.
You’re spoiled for choice here. The Toyota RAV4, Nissan Qashqai (or bigger X-Trail) and Honda CR-V are all highly regarded and more accomplished dynamically than the Kia. They also have solid, well equipped cabins and are very reliable. Problem is, these alternatives all cost more.
This is also true of Land Rover’s even more talented Freelander. It looks more stylish and is more accomplished on and off-road, but it’s not as dependable as the Sportage.