Road tests

New Kia Sportage 2022 review

The latest Kia Sportage has a lot to live up to - can it challenge the best family SUVs once again?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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This is the best Sportage yet. It looks sensational inside and out and does the family-friendly stuff really well. But can it beat the all-conquering Tucson? There are some areas where it’s better, others where it’s not. But Kia needs to sharpen its pencil on prices and deals to sock it to its sibling and biggest rival.

We’re a bit posh, us Brits. Whereas our American cousins pronounce Sportage as in baggage, we take a slightly more refined approach rhyming it with barrage.

Either way, this new, fifth-generation Sportage is still designed for Europe and built in Europe, and as it shares much with our current favourite mid-size SUV, Hyundai’s multi-award-winning Tucson, it has to be good, doesn’t it?

Well, yes, it is. And Kia has worked hard to give its Sportage plenty of points of difference, even if much of the tech under the skin is shared between the Korean siblings.

That starts with the look, although both cars use the latest LED lighting tech to good effect. The Sportage features bold boomerang-shaped LED running lights either side of a super-slim version of Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose’ grille.

The main headlights blend neatly into a larger, lower grille – so much so that you’ll struggle to see them unless they’re on – while in profile the car looks slightly more compact than the Tucson (it’s actually marginally longer) with cleaner surfacing along the sides, too.

At the back, the car takes a clear lead from Kia’s all-electric EV6 with high set tail-lights and the now popular full width light strip. The boot door opening stretches down nice and low for easy access to a 587-litre boot (some way shy of the Tucson’s 620 litres).

Inside there’s even more inspiration from the EV6, with twin 12.3- inch screens; one in front of the driver with clear, easy-to-use graphics plus a responsive touchscreen in the centre for the infotainment. Both screens appear to join in one, smart panoramic sweep.

Beneath the central touchscreen are touch sensitive controls for the climate control, or if you push the button to switch modes, they turn into fast keys for access to infotainment settings. It makes the interior look great but is a bit of a faff to use.

Our front-wheel drive hybrid (predicted to be the best seller) car’s rotary automatic gear selector sits behind a wireless phone charger, with cup-holders (featuring clever swing out parts for smaller cups or bottles) to the side.

There are plenty of other clever features inside, including USB sockets on the back of the front seats alongside a handy hook, while the headrests can be used as coat or bag hangers. Quality is top notch, too.

On interior style alone, the Kia outdoes the Hyundai, although when we allowed the family that lived with our long-term Tucson to play about in the Sportage, they said that rear space in the Kia was slightly tighter. It’ll still be fine for most, though, and the rear doors open usefully wide for easy access.

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Previous Sportage owners will delight in the improved visibility all- round, while the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel is good to hold and gives the car a sporty feel. In fact, the car grips well through bends without too much body roll; it’s not sporty, but then this is a family SUV.

The ride feels a touch firmer than the Tucson’s and things can get a bit bobbly over poor surfaces, although it’s not bad enough to dismiss the Sportage. You’ll be impressed by the refinement, though, making the Kia relaxed and more comfortable on a cruise.

When it comes to choosing a powertrain, there are plenty. Our car was the full (some may even say self-charging) hybrid which blends 1.6-litre petrol power with a small 1.49kWh battery to enable the car to go for a short while on electric power. In fact, it will do its best to run on electricity whenever possible, with the engine cutting in smoothly unless you’re being too violent with the throttle.

With 226bhp and 350Nm of torque the car will get from 0-60mph in a decent 7.7 seconds – slightly quicker than the Tucson. The Hyundai claws things back with an ever-so-slightly better fuel economy figure and lower CO2, but there’s not much in it; we reckon you’d easily get an average of mid to high-40s mpg.

At launch you can go for a mild hybrid 1.6 that uses 48-volt tech to boost performance and efficiency but won’t run on electric power alone. Or you can opt for the entry-level 148bhp 1.6 with no hint of hybridisation. Oh yes, whisper it, there are even a couple of diesels if you really want to go in that direction.

If that’s not enough for you, in a matter of weeks, a plug-in hybrid petrol version will arrive, too, adding a 13.8kWh battery to the 1.6 petrol.

Then there’s a choice of five trim levels ranging from 2 (a strange place to start) through 3 and 4, plus GT-Line and our top-spec GT-Line S model, which gets all the bells and whistles – literally, when it reminds you to check for rear passengers as you get out of the car. Of course, every model gets seven years’ warranty cover, too.

Our Sportage costs £38,645 – more expensive than the equivalent Tucson. It’s more expensive on a PCP, too – put down £9,700 and over 37 months the Kia will cost you £315 a month, the Hyundai £293. But is it worth it? We’ll be putting the two back-to-back very soon.

Model: Kia Sportage 1.6 Hybrid GT-Line S
Price: £38,645
Engine:  1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol plus 1.49kWh battery
Power/torque:  226bhp/350Nm
Transmission:  Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph/top speed:  7.7 seconds/120mph
WLTP economy:  48.7mpg
CO2/tax:  132g/km
On sale:  now

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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