Kia Sportage SUV

£17,465 - £29,510

The Kia Sportage is the Korean brand's contender in the crowded compact SUV class that's dominated by the Nissan Qashqai. Since its launch five years ago, the class has grown massively – today most carmakers field a small SUV of some description.

Closest to the Sportage in price and positioning are models such as the Qashqai, the Mazda CX-5 and the new Hyundai Tucson. However, there are so many others to choose from that you need to consider the ageing Sportage's pros and cons very carefully. On that point, it's important to know that an all-new Sportage arrives in 2016.

Until it shows up, though, the current version remains a popular, good-looking and good-value SUV. It comes with a market-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty and Sportages in sensible specifications and bright colours hold their value well. In addition, there are attractively priced three and five-year service packages to help budgeting for running costs.

There are three engines to choose from: a 1.6-litre petrol, a 1.7-litre diesel and two 2.0-litre diesels. The last two engines are available only on four-wheel-drive Sportages, badged KX. The remainder power only two-wheel-drive versions.

Our favourite is the 1.7-litre diesel. It's economical, but can easily haul a fully loaded Sportage. Unless you frequently indulge in mild off-roading, the absence of four-wheel drive isn’t an issue. However, if you want your Sportage with an automatic gearbox, then your only option is one of the four-wheel-drive 2.0-litre versions.

The Sportage leans a bit in corners and can be easily unsettled by a bumpy road. It's generally comfortable, but if you want a fun driving experience from your crossover, you should look at something like a Mazda CX-5.

The model has a roomy interior and an impressively large boot, featuring additional storage under the floor. Visibility is generally good, although because the rear window is quite shallow, rear parking sensors are a must.

Trim levels couldn’t be simpler. Two-wheel-drive versions are badged from 1 to 4 and four-wheel, KX 1 to 4. In both cases, 3 is available in Sat Nav form. Trim level 1 offers alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and air-conditioning. Our pick is 2, which is generously equipped with a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone air-con, half-leather seats and rear parking sensors.

Not surprisingly, given its long warranty, the Sportage is a generally reliable car. It's safe, too, with Euro NCAP awarding the model five stars for crash protection and safety kit including electronic stability control, hill-hold and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.