|Body and chassis|
|Class||Compact SUV (1993–2005)
Compact crossover SUV (J) (2004–present)
The Kia Sportage is a compact crossover SUV (compact SUV until 2005) built by the South Korean manufacturer Kia since 1993.
First generation (NB-7; 1993–2004)
The first-generation Kia Sportage was developed with a Mazda Bongo engineering base platform. It shares many mechanical components such as the engine, transmissions (early versions), and differentials with the Mazda line of vehicles. This was during Kia’s alliance with Ford and Mazda, which involved Ford/Mazda providing technology and Kia providing inexpensive manufacturing facilities for Ford.
Early in 1994, an experimental project was attempted between Kia Motors with Daimler-Benz AG. A small number of converted three-door convertibles into two-door pickups, designated GLL200, were produced. Actual production numbers have never been verified, but rumored to be no more than a 25 units assembled. All were test marketed through franchise dealerships in Seoul, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan. The collaboration was soon abandoned as Daimler unexpectedly withdrew before a formal agreement was achieved.
From 1995 to 1998, the Sportage was built by Karmann in Germany; thus, European buyers received German-built versions between these years, while the rest of the world received South Korean-built versions. It was launched in Asia in July 1993 but European sales did not start until two years later.
The Sportage was sold in either a five-door SUV or a three-door soft-top convertible. Kia initially developed the wagon in standard length form, but in circa 1996, the company released an extended length version. This stretched model—mainly sold in Asian markets under the name “Sportage Grand”, but also as the “Grand Wagon”—featured a 305 mm (12.0 in) longer body utilizing the same wheelbase, an increase in luggage capacity from 1,570 to 2,220 liters (55.4 to 78.4 cu ft), and the relocation of the spare wheel from the tailgate to underneath the floor.
Kia offered three Mazda-sourced engines in the Sportage, beginning with the 2.0-liter FE DOHC inline-four gasoline unit producing 95 kW (128 hp) and the 2.0-liter RF inline-four diesel rated at 61 kW (82 hp). Diesel-engined models were mostly restricted to European markets, as was the more basic single overhead camshaft (SOHC) version of the 2.0-liter FE gasoline inline-four. Delivering 87 kW (117 hp), this gasoline engine was available from 2000 onwards. In North America, the 2.0-liter FE DOHC engine produced 130 hp (97 kW) and had optional four-wheel drive. The 1997 model year Kia Sportage was the world’s first production vehicle to be equipped with a knee airbag.
This first-generation model (1993–2002) sold in low numbers even domestically in South Korea, and post-Hyundai takeover models (1997–2002) were recalled twice for rear wheels dismounting while driving. The first-generation Sportage was discontinued in South Korea in 2002, and in North America after the 2002 model year. By 2003, most international markets had discontinued the Sportage range, although it did remain on sale in some developing countries until its second-generation replacement arrived in 2005.
The Kia Sportage scored the lowest possible result in the Australian ANCAP crash tests – one star out of five. As well as a failure of the seat belts, the vehicle structure collapsed.
Second generation (JE/KM; 2004–2010):
After a two-year hiatus, the model-year 2005 Sportage returned, sharing its Elantra-based platform with the 2005 Hyundai Tucson. The Sportage also had a 2.0 L straight-4 Diesel engine available in the United Kingdom. Pricing starts at just over US$16,000. Critics and fans of the original, pre-Hyundai Sportage complain that it is considerably larger than the original Sportage and has none of the earlier off-road capability, the two keys for its success. However, buyers of the second-generation model are likely to favor the available 173 hp (129 kW) V6, with 178 lb·ft of torque (241 N·m). Overall fit/finish and quality is noticeably improved over the first-generation model.
Facelift model of the second generation was introduced in May 2008. Since 2007, it is manufactured at the Žilina Plant in Slovakia. A second facelift was introduced in the UK in early 2009 only a few months after its first facelift.
The Sportage was named as one of the most reliable vehicles from the 2009 Consumer Reports reliability survey. The Kia Sportage ranked second in the “20 least expensive 2009 vehicles to insure” list by Insure.com. According to research, the Sportage is one of the least expensive vehicles to insure. Low rates tend to reflect a vehicle’s safety.
The second-generation Kia Sportage earned a top rating of five stars in crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) judged it merely acceptable for frontal and side-impact crash, performance, and poor strength of its roof in a rollover.
|Moderate overlap front:||Average|
|Head restraints & seats:||Poor|
Third generation (SL; 2010–2015):
The SL series Kia Sportage was released in April 2010 to Asian and European markets, followed by the North and Central American markets in August 2010 for model year 2011. Australian models were released in October 2010. It currently uses a 2.0-liter Hyundai R diesel engine with 184 hp (137 kW). Also, a 2.0-liter Theta T-GDI gasoline engine was available. The third generation receives a mid-generational refresh for the 2014 model year, with new headlamps, fog lamps, etc.
In China, the third generation, called the Sportage R, was released by Dongfeng Yueda Kia in October 2010, and is to be built and marketed alongside the previous generation rather than as a replacement of the existing model.
The Sportage won the 2011 Car of the Year (originally “Auto roku 2011 na Slovensku”) in Slovakia and “Truck of the Year” nomination of International Car of the Year. The Kia Sportage was top of the JD Power Survey for 2012, it was the only car in the survey to score five stars across all categories, from mechanical reliability to ownership costs and the dealer experience.
The third-generation Kia Sportage received a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States. Earning the award became tougher in 2010 when IIHS added the rollover crash test, which measures roof strength and is twice as stringent as the federal requirement. To pass this test, a vehicle’s roof must be able to withstand the force of three times the vehicle’s weight (acceptable rating). The federal standard requires a roof to hold 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight.
|Small overlap front:||Poor|
|Moderate overlap front:||Good|
|Head restraints & seats:||Good|
In South Africa, the Sportage took the 2013 Standard Bank People’s Wheels Award for “SUVs and Crossovers – City & Suburban”.
Fourth generation (QL; 2015–present):
Kia unveiled its newly redesigned Sportage at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2015, with plans to bring it to market as a 2016 model. The company said the contrasting sharp edges and smooth surfaces were inspired by modern fighter jets.
There are three gasoline engines, as well as one diesel engine in the line-up. The gasoline options are a 1.6-liter, 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter, offering around 97 kW/161 N⋅m, 120 kW/200 N⋅m and 138 kW/241 N⋅m respectively, while the diesel is a 2.0-liter turbo that will produce around 135 kW/400 N⋅m. A 130 kW/265 N⋅m 1.6 T-GDi turbo-gasoline with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and a 136 kW/400Nm 2.0 R-Series diesel. Front- (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) configurations are available.
In North America, the new Sportage will be offered with three trim levels (LX, EX, and SX). Much like the previous model it will come available with two inline-four engine choices, a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter and a turbocharged 2.0-liter. The 2.4-liter produces 181 hp (135 kW) and 175 lb⋅ft (237 N⋅m), while the turbocharged engine makes 240 hp (180 kW) and 260 lb⋅ft (350 N⋅m), with small differences in performance dependent on whether FWD or AWD is configured. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2017 Sportage received a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
|Small overlap front:||Good|
|Moderate overlap front:||Good|
|Head restraints & seats:||Good|
|Front crash prevention:||Superior|
|Child seat anchors (Latch) ease of use:||Acceptable|
The Sportage won the 2016 Red Dot Award for Car Design.
The Sportage was Kia’s best selling model worldwide in 2016, overtaking the Rio.
|Calendar year||United States||Canada||Global||South Korea|
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