15 Best & Worst Kia Sportage Years (With Facts & Stats)

The Sportage is a quirky compact crossover that was first released in the US for the ’98 model year.

It’s known for its quality, durability and extroverted styling and boasts a variety of driver-assistance technology.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the best and worst years of the Kia Sportage…

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Kia Sportage Are:

The best Kia Sportage model years are 2023, 2022, 2021, 2019, 2014, 2010, and 2008. The worst model years of the Sportage are 2017, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2006, 2001, 1999, and 1998. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Kia Sportage?

Kia has produced a lot of great Sportages in the model’s lifespan.

Listed below are those that deserve to be viewed as the best of the best...

2023 Kia Sportage

The 2023 Sportage is the first of a new generation and is a unique option in the segment thanks to its extrovert styling.

Aside from offering the latest infotainment and safety tech, the 2023 Sportage is available in hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Tucson and the Toyota RAV4 Prime.

  • Edmunds: 3.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.7 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2023 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“The tech on the car for the price is crazy. Comfort is very good on longer trips and the ride quality is good.  I would buy it again.  It’s a great vehicle in this class.”

2023 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“There are a lot of things to like about this car. The ride, the interior, the quietness, the smooth shifting transmission, the interior room and the array of technical features.”

2022 Kia Sportage

The 2022 Kia Sportage did not receive any bold changes, but for those looking for value and practicality in a base model, the LX model was granted the Value Edition package, which included features such as 18-inch alloy wheels and heated front seats that were previously exclusive to the higher-end trims. 

The 2022 Sportage was the last in the generation so it’s safe to say that it will be the most refined, benefiting from any hard-learned lessons from earlier models.

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: NA
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2022 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“I love this car and it’s tech. It rides smooth and is very comfortable inside. The acceleration is good and responsive. It has a lot of driver assistance features but doesn’t go overboard with the whole “take over” the steering and braking fads going on now in new vehicles…”

2022 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“Love my new car! It’s sporty and rides so smooth. The only thing I wish I had more of is power. It doesn’t accelerate very quickly but overall, so far, I love it and recommend this car.”

2021 Kia Sportage

The 2021 Kia Sportage had no significant changes on paper but what is worth noting is that there were two additions to the line-up, namely the Nightfall Edition and Nightfall Edition Premium options which give the vehicle a glossy black finish in certain areas.

The 2021 Sportage stays true to form offering a nice spacious cabin and satisfying ride-and-handling characteristics.

  • Edmunds: 4.8 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: NA
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2021 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“2021 Kia Sportage SX Turbo, Pacific Blue with Beige interior package (really tan with charcoal edges, HOT! It has every smart safety upgrade, including the fact it can park itself either by backing into a slop or parallel. And then it can unpark itself. It has lane departure, but also will keep one in the lane utilizing adaptive cruise control as you go…”

2019 Kia Sportage

The 2019 Kia Sportage was dubbed as a carryover model due to having no significant upgrades, but it is worth emphasizing that this model year had significantly fewer complaints than some of the earlier models according to NHTSA statistics.

The 2019 Sportage has a speedy turbo engine, plenty of features and a swanky interior.

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: NA
  • JD Power: 83 / 100

2019 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“Most comfortable, best driving machine I have ever owned and I traded a much higher priced SUV for this small gem. I get a lot more gas mileage than what was advertised and it corners much better than the Acura I traded for it and it’s much quieter.”

2019 Kia Sportage, Kelley Blue Book review:

“My Kia Sportage is an awesome car. Not only is it a nice-looking car, but it also runs perfectly. It does what I want it to when I want it to. It has been all over this country and it just doesn’t quit. It is comfortable and easy to operate.”

2014 Kia Sportage

The 2014 Kia Sportage makes the best years list due to its good driving manners and stellar reliability.

Compared to the sub-par 2011, 2012 and 2013 models, the 2014 Sportage was relatively problem free.

  • Edmunds: 3.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2014 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“The 2014 Sportage has meet my needs and expectations, I really love it! The compact size is perfect, the interior & exterior design is great and It’s a smooth ride that handles very well, doesn’t feel clunky at all. So far, its been very reliable with no major issues to report!”

2010 Kia Sportage

The 2010 Kia Sportage, unlike the later model years, comes in only the entry-level LX trim and the slightly better EX trim, but the great ratings and extremely positive reviews give this model year an edge over the others on this list.

2010 was one of the least problematic models made with only a handful of complaints on the NHTSA website.

If you’ve got your eye on a used 2010 Sportage make sure the car has been properly maintained and the owner can provide documented proof of this.

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 79 / 100

2010 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“I bought this Kia new in March 2010 as a second car. This car just hit 100,000 miles today (March 22, 2021). Other than the disappointing warranty coverage and delaminating steering wheel coating previously noted a year ago*, the car continues to be mechanically sound…”

2008 Kia Sportage

The 2008 Kia Sportage is the oldest on this list but is commonly regarded as one of the best compact SUVs at the time it was released.

Owners of this model year have reported reaching 200,000 miles without any significant concern or defect (given that the proper maintenance protocols were observed). 

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2008 Kia Sportage, Edmunds review:

“This vehicle has FWD, but with good snow tires it was the best winter auto ever. I would not hesitate to buy another Sportage. Only been in the shop twice in 8 years other than routine brakes, oil and filter, etc…”

Consumer Scores For Best Kia Sportage Years

Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Kia Sportage model years from reputable vehicle websites:

Model YearEdmunds’ 
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book’s
Consumer Rating
JD Power’s
Consumer Rating
2023 Kia Sportage3.5 / 5.04.7 / 5.081 / 100
2022 Kia Sportage4.6 / 5.0NA81 / 100
2021 Kia Sportage4.8 / 5.0NA82 / 100
2019 Kia Sportage4.0 / 5.0NA83 / 100
2014 Kia Sportage3.4 / 5.04.4 / 5.081 / 100
2010 Kia Sportage4.6 / 5.04.5 / 5.079 / 100
2008 Kia Sportage4.4 / 5.04.5 / 5.082 / 100

Related: Kia Sportage in Snow and Winter Driving? (Explained)

What Are The Worst Years For The Kia Sportage?

The Kia Sportage has also been on the receiving end of several complaints and issues over the years.

Be cautious of the model years listed below.

2017 Kia Sportage

The 2017 Kia Sportage had a lot of engine-related complaints and issues and it is statistically the most problematic model year in recent times.

Several reports indicated engine failure while driving and excessive oil consumption, both of which required significant repairs or even a total engine replacement.

The 2017 Sportage had a total of 42 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 271 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Engine failure
  • Rodent damage to engine harness made of soy

2013 Kia Sportage

The 2013 Kia Sportage had issues similar to that of the 2017 model year.

Reports specified engine power loss and complete shutdown of the vehicle while accelerating.

Here’s one owner’s account:

“My engine seized on the freeway while going 75mph, almost causing an accident. My mechanic said it was an engine recall issue seen often in kias. Premature engine bearing wearing.”

The 2013 Sportage had a total of 31 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 355 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Died while driving
  • Blown engine
  • Connecting rod punctures the engine block
  • Uncomfortable seats

2012 Kia Sportage

The 2012 Kia Sportage also had engine-related problems.

The most common reports specified sporadic jerking and total engine failure with the check engine light illuminated.

This was acknowledged by Kia through its recall campaigns but even vehicles with serial numbers that did not fall under any of the recalls experienced identical issues.

Owners account:

“The engine started quietly knocking and continued to get louder until there was a pop and smoke started coming out of the back of the car and I pulled to the side of the road.”

The 2012 Sportage had a total of 49 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 399 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Engine stopped working while driving
  • Excessive engine noise
  • Rats ate the wiring

2011 Kia Sportage

The 2011 Kia Sportage was very problematic due to engine-related issues (much like the previous entries on this list).

Owners of this model year reported unexpected engine stalling with the check engine warning light illuminated and failure to start up despite multiple repeated attempts.

The 2011 Sportage had a total of 18 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 207 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Repeated engine failure
  • Engine (turbo) oil cooler failed
  • Master cylinder failure

2006 Kia Sportage

The 2006 Kia Sportage also had engine-related issues but the more prominent set of concerns fall under the airbag category.

Reports show that the airbag warning indicator came on with no obvious signs of defect.

Many owners were forced to replace the passenger seat to rectify the issue at a cost of $2000 despite being told this may not actually fix the problem.

The 2006 Sportage had a total of 15 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 168 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Airbag light came on
  • Keyless entry not working
  • Brake lights stay on

2001 Kia Sportage

The 2001 Kia Sportage had a lot of reported problems which were mainly due to a faulty gas tank that leaked and various other engine-related issues.

One owner even stated that he had to undergo two engine replacements.

The 2001 Sportage had a total of 21 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 354 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • 4-wheel-drive stopped working
  • Engine failure
  • AC failure
  • No power, runs roughly, smells

1999 & 1998 Kia Sportage

The ’99 and ’98 Kia Sportages are the most problematic models years on the list, having both been plagued by various issues.

Owners reported varying concerns (engine problems, electrical failure, fluid leakage) but the most significant issue was intermittent engine failure and inability to start. 

A lot of complaints indicated that the owners smelled an odor that seemed to originate from under the hood (fuel-like smell).

This smell was accompanied by other issues while driving such as knocking, buckling, and loss of power. 

The 1999 Sportage had a total of 8 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 491 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

The 1998 Sportage had a total of 5 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 561 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • 4-wheel-drive stopped working
  • Exhaust fell of
  • Engine problems
  • Lunges when you give it gas
  • Window is stuck

Related: How Long Do Kia Sportage Last? (12 Important Facts)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

There are several Kia Sportage model years, both old and new, that have received numerous complaints through the years. 

Take a look at the complaints and problems for each model year of the Sportage below

Model YearComplaints
(CarComplaints.com)
Problems
(CarProblemZoo.com)
2023 Kia Sportage19
2022 Kia SportageNA10
2021 Kia Sportage011
2020 Kia Sportage643
2019 Kia Sportage229
2018 Kia Sportage16102
2017 Kia Sportage42271
2016 Kia Sportage10118
2015 Kia Sportage5128
2014 Kia Sportage1696
2013 Kia Sportage31355
2012 Kia Sportage49399
2011 Kia Sportage18207
2010 Kia Sportage818
2009 Kia Sportage14100
2008 Kia Sportage12121
2007 Kia Sportage9108
2006 Kia Sportage15168
2005 Kia Sportage688
2004 Kia SportageNANA
2003 Kia SportageNA4
2002 Kia Sportage14317
2001 Kia Sportage21354
2000 Kia Sportage18463
1999 Kia Sportage8491
1998 Kia Sportage5561
1997 Kia Sportage3304
1996 Kia Sportage3100

What Problems Do Kia Sportages Have?

  • Engine stopped working while driving
  • Repeated engine failure
  • Excessive oil consumption

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Kia Sportage?

The Kia Sportage is considered a top choice in the highly competitive compact crossover segment, although it comes up against stiff competition.

The Sportage secured the tenth spot (right below the Volkswagen Tiguan and Toyota RAV4), with a good score of 7.9 out of 10. 

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Honda CR-V8.8$26,400 – $36,200City: 27 – 28 /Highway: 32 – 34
Hyundai Tucson8.8$25,800 – $36,800City: 24 – 26 /Highway: 29 – 33
Mazda CX-58.7$25,900 – $38,650City: 22 – 24 /Highway: 27 – 30
Ford Bronco Sport8.4$28,165 – $34,590City: 21 – 25 /Highway: 26 – 28
Subaru Forester8.3$25,395 – $35,495City: 25 – 26 / Highway: 28 – 33
Mitsubishi Outlander8.2$26,095 – $42,695City: NA /Highway: NA
Nissan Rogue8.2$26,850 – $38,130City: 28 – 30 /Highway: 34 – 37
Toyota RAV48.1$26,525 – $36,465City: 25 – 27 /Highway: 32 – 35
Volkswagen Tiguan8.0$26,490 – $37,320City: 21 – 23 /Highway: 28 – 30
Kia Sportage7.9$25,990 – $36,790City: 23 – 25 /Highway: 28 – 32
Jeep Cherokee7.7$29,995 – $39,345City: 18 – 23 /Highway: 24 – 31
Chevrolet Equinox7.6$26,300 – $33,100City: 25 – 26 /Highway: 30 – 31
GMC Terrain7.5$27,900 – $36,600City: NA /Highway: NA
Jeep Compass7.2$26,785 – $34,210City: NA /Highway: NA
Jeep Wrangler7.2$30,295 – $79,995City: 13 – 22 /Highway: 17 – 29
Ford BroncoNA$29,300 – $49,475City: 16 – 20 /Highway: 17 – 22
Ford EscapeNA$26,510 – $36,630City: 23 – 28 /Highway: 31 – 34
Mazda CX-50NA$26,800 – $41,500City: 23 – 24 /Highway: 29 – 30
Mitsubishi Eclipse CrossNA$25,795 – $29,295City: NA /Highway: NA

Source: cars.usnews.com

References

https://www.caranddriver.com/kia/sportage

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/kia/sportage

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Kia/Sportage/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/kiamotor/sportage/

https://www.edmunds.com/kia/sportage/

https://www.kbb.com/kia/sportage/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2022/kia/sportage