Kia Sportage SUV

£17,465 - £29,510

The Kia Sportage is a good-looking compact SUV available with a choice of punchy yet economical engines and the reassurance of a long seven-year warranty. It's popular on the used-car market, so doesn't depreciate badly, meaning you'll get more of your money back when you sell it. It also comes with Kia's Care-3 or Care-3 Plus fixed-price servicing packages.

Rivals include the newer, stylish and more popular Nissan Qashqai, as well as the efficient and fun-to-drive Mazda CX-5. If you prefer the superior ride and handling characteristics of a conventional hatchback, your options include that excellent all-rounder the Ford Focus and the classy, smooth-riding Volkswagen Golf. These are very different cars, though, lacking the high-ride height and great all-round visibility of a compact SUV such as the Sportage.

There's a choice of three engines: a 1.6-litre petrol, a 1.7-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre diesel. The 1.7-litre diesel offers the best blend of performance and economy, although the petrol is impressively efficient, too. The 2.0-litre diesel is reserved for all-wheel-drive versions of the Sportage and comes in two different power outputs. It's the only engine offered with an automatic gearbox, so if you must have an auto, it'll be at the expense of the 1.7-litre diesel's superior fuel economy.

Regardless of engine, the Sportage is a comfortable car with a soft ride that means it leans in corners and can bounce a little on poor roads. If you want a sportier yet still comfortable drive, you'll be better off with a Mazda CX-5. The petrol engine is a little underpowered, while the 1.7-litre diesel is a relaxed cruiser and offers good overtaking performance.

Trim levels couldn't be simpler. There are four of them and – true to Kia's common-sense appeal – they're simply called 1, 2, 3 and 4. Plentiful equipment forms a big part of the Sportage's appeal. Even the basic 1 trim has alloy wheels, body-coloured handles and mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, a fully adjustable steering wheel and driver's seat, cruise control and air-conditioning.

You only have to go to trim level 2 for an electrically powered panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, reversing sensors, part-leather seats and dual-zone automatic air-conditioning. Trim 3 brings bright zenon headlights and black leather seats, and top-spec 4, LED rear tail-lights, smart entry, satellite navigation and a powered driver's seat.

Generously equipped but also safe, the Sportage received the maximum five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP, plus it has a good roster of safety equipment, including a full set of airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. It's not perfect reliability-wise, but owners seem to be generally happy and in any case, the model comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, which is more than can be said for any of its rivals.

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