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Used car tests

Used Kia Sportage (Mk4, 2016-2021) review

Our full used buyer’s guide on the Kia Sportage, covering the Sportage Mk4 that was on sale between 2016 and 2022

Verdict

When Auto Express celebrated its 30th birthday in 2018, we had to pick the brand that had made the most progress during that time. It wasn’t a tough decision to make, with Kia given the award because of the way it had transformed itself since the brand reached the UK in 1991. This was most apparent with the Mk4 Sportage, which was Kia’s biggest-selling model when it was current. Its popularity illustrates how accomplished it is, as well as how many there are to choose from; almost 40,000 Sportages were sold in the UK in 2017. Only the earliest cars are now out of warranty, but check carefully before buying because reliability wasn’t a high point for the Kia SUV in our 2023 Driver Power poll.

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Mid-size SUVs are hot property on the new and used markets, and one of the favourites – as voted by you in our Driver Power surveys – is the Kia Sportage

While the original Sportage of 1995 wasn’t anything to get excited about, its successor was a big improvement, and by the time the third-generation edition arrived in 2010, Kia had really hit its stride, with a car that looked as though it was still at the concept stage. 

After that model, the Mk4 didn’t look as distinctive, but it was undoubtedly a better car, with its more modern dashboard, the latest safety tech and a further improvement in cabin quality. It was no wonder it claimed pole position in our 2019 Driver Power used-car survey, beating 99 other models in the process.

History

The fourth-generation Sportage reached UK showrooms in February 2016, priced from £17,995. There was a choice of 130bhp 1.6 GDi or 174bhp 1.6 T-GDi petrol engines, along with a 114bhp 1.7 CRDi diesel, and a 2.0 CRDi in 134bhp and 182bhp forms. 

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A revised Sportage went on sale in August 2018, with a 114bhp 1.6 CRDi unit replacing the 1.7 CRDi, and the 182bhp 2.0 CRDi engine gaining mild-hybrid tech and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. 

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The line-up was streamlined in May 2020, with the 1 and 4 trims being dropped and a 3 added, to sit alongside 2, GT-Line and GT-Line S. An eight-inch touchscreen with navigation was standard across the range from this point, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Which one should I buy?

The 1.6 CRDi was a big advance over the  1.7 CRDi in every way, and the 1.6 T-GDi is much perkier than the non-turbo 1.6 GDi, while the eight-speed automatic transmission is significantly slicker than the six-speed that came before on the 2.0 CRDi.

All Sportages were well equipped, with the 1 having alloy wheels, air-con, cruise control, a reversing camera and a seven-inch touchscreen display. The 2 added sat-nav, upgraded interior trim, privacy glass, heated front and outer rear seats, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, plus dual-zone climate control. 

The 4 (superseded by the 3) came with 19-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, leather trim, front parking sensors, electric seat adjustment and a panoramic glass roof. GT-Line was in effect a sportier 2, while the GT-Line S was a sportier 3 or 4.

Alternatives to the Kia Sportage

You;re spoiled for choice here. The Hyundai Tucson is closely related to the Sportage, so shares many of its traits, while the SEAT AtecaVW Tiguan and Skoda Karoq also share much with each other (and the Audi Q3), and they’re all worth shortlisting. Meanwhile, the Vauxhall Grandland is based on the same platform as Peugeot’s 3008 and the Citroen C5 Aircross, so many of the oily bits are common across these models, all of which you should consider. 

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A less obvious contender is the MG HS, which, as with the Kia, comes with a seven-year warranty, or you could check out the Renault Kadjar, which is related to the Nissan Qashqai. We’d also recommend a closer look at the Ford Kuga and the Toyota RAV4, as well as the Mazda CX-5.

What to look for

Ulez

All diesel-engined models are Euro 6-compliant, so you should be able to drive in clean-air zones without paying any charges.

Hybrids

From October 2019, all diesels featured mild-hybrid tech, but Kia claimed similar fuel economy and CO2 figures for standard and hybrid models.

Lights

A few owners swapped their headlamp bulbs for aftermarket items. Some of these are illegal and can damage the electronics, however.

Tyres

It has been reported that the factory-fitted tyres can perish prematurely. That’s why many owners have switched to Michelin, Bridgestone or Continental.

Interior

If you’re after a car interior that’s easy to live with and you don’t care if it’s rather dull, then look no further. The Sportage’s dashboard is designed for ease of use and is of a very high quality (and even more so in the posher models, which come with extra design details to lift the ambience), but it’s lacking any wow factor. 

But the build quality is impressive throughout and so is the packaging. There’s lots of room for adults in the back, and wide-opening doors mean easy entry and exit, while boot capacity is 491 (439 mild hybrid) or 1,480 litres, depending on whether or not the rear seats are folded down.

Prices

About 60 per cent of the Sportages on the market have a petrol engine, while the other 40 per cent are diesels. A third of those diesels have hybrid tech, while one in three has an automatic transmission. Just a third of Sportages on the used market have four-wheel drive.

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Visit our sister site Buyacar to get a great deal on a used Kia Sportage, or to check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.

Running costs

All Sportages need to be serviced every 12 months or 20,000 miles, except for the 1.6 T-GDi, which cuts this to every year or 10,000 miles. Check-ups generally alternate between minor and major, with the former priced at £95, or so. A major service for the 1.6 GDi costs around £300, while it’s about £350 for the 1.6, 1.7 and 2.0-litre diesels. Maintenance for the 1.6 T-GDi costs between £170 and £500. 

The standard check-up costs include fresh brake fluid every two years and new coolant every 10 years or 100,000 miles. All engines are chain-driven, apart from the 1.6 CRDi, which has a cambelt that needs to be replaced every 16 years or 160,000 miles, at a cost of £560.

Recalls

Kia has a pretty good record when it comes to issuing recalls, and sure enough, this generation of Sportage has never been the subject of one. The Sportage Mk3 (made between 2010 and 2016) was recalled just twice, while the second-generation model (2005-2010) was the subject of just one campaign. 

However, since the Sportage Mk4 was launched in early 2016, Kia has issued two dozen recalls that take in most of its other models. In some cases the action is the result of mechanical glitches, such as steering-rack failures (Soul), faulty door locks (Rio), a perished fuel- filler neck (Picanto) and fuel-pump failures (Stinger). But many of the problems are down to electronic and electrical issues, including some with Kia’s plug-in hybrid models, such as the Soul EV and e-Niro.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

Out of 75 cars in the 2023 Driver Power survey, Kia had 14 entries, ranging from second (Sorento Mk4) to 70th (Sportage Mk5). The Sportage Mk4 fared much better than its successor with a 19th place, owners loving the cabin versatility and space, the dash layout and the amount of boot room. They’re not so impressed by the performance, driving experience or infotainment, while 52nd for reliability is disappointing.

Looking to sell your current car quickly and for a good price? We’ve partnered with Motorway to bring you the best offer from its network of UK dealers...

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