Kia Sportage 2018 review

Red Kia Sportage driving up a hill in the country side

Greg Hill

Posted August 14, 2018

RACV tests the upgraded 2018 Kia Sportage SUV.

Talking points

  • Impressive suspension upgrade.
  • New eight-speed auto complements the diesel's ability.
  • Excellent safety levels across the range.

The Kia Sportage evolution continues with a “product enhancement” upgrade to this worthy SUV’s fourth generation, which was first introduced in 2016. The changes, while not massive, are quite strategic and deliver some significant improvements. 

The primary focus has been on added safety features, although suspension developments also bring a more compliant, refined ride, and there’s an eight-speed automatic for diesel versions. These improvements come at a cost, with price increases from $1000 to $2500 depending on the variant, so the range is now $29,990 to $47,690.

That means plenty of choice, with four trim levels – Si, Si Premium, SLi and GT-Line – and three engines. There’s a 2.0-litre petrol (114kW and 192Nm) for Si, Si Premium and SLi models, while the GT-Line has a 2.4-litre petrol version (135kW and 237Nm). A 2.0-litre diesel (136kW and 400Nm) is available across the range.  

The 2.0-litre petrol models are front-wheel-drive, while the 2.4-litre petrol and the diesel use Kia’s on-demand all-wheel-drive system. Petrol versions retain a conventional six-speed automatic.

Front view of white Kia Sportage driving on road


Advanced safety systems are becoming more common in mainstream vehicles, so Kia has packaged autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision alert and lane-keeping assist as standard across the Sportage range. 

More safety features are included as you move up the range. In keeping with other Kia models that we’ve driven recently, the lane-keep assist tends to intervene early and can be a touch on the aggressive side. 

Styling changes are only subtle, designed to give the Sportage a more athletic look. For a compact SUV, the unchanged cabin space is useful but not abundant. Five adults are a squeeze, although there’s enough leg and head room for all but the tallest people.

The trim quality, fit and finish of the GT-Line diesel we drove had a premium appearance and feel. The seats are leather and there are plenty of soft-touch materials, with harder plastics in high-wear areas. Well-thought-out ergonomics, featuring large, clear instruments, logically placed switches and a centrally mounted eight-inch infotainment screen, all add to the driving ease.

The torque converter-style eight-speed automatic in the diesel models does its work in a fuss-free manner. With smooth changes and the two extra gears providing a better spread, it always seems to be in the right gear to make good use of the engine’s strong torque. This not only helps improve performance and drivability but also reduces fuel consumption by 0.4L/100km, to an official 6.4L/100km.  

The highlight of this product enhancement, however, is the outstanding ride quality and handling agility. Fine-tuning of the new model’s recalibrated suspension and steering by Kia’s local engineering team delivers a set-up that’s well suited to Australian road conditions. 

They’ve dialled up the ride comfort significantly, improved body control and enhanced the steering feel, while maintaining surefooted cornering ability. Improved dampers and bushes not only deliver a more compliant ride but also a quieter cabin.

Adding to Sportage’s appeal in this hotly contested market segment is the reassurance of Kia’s lengthy seven-year warranty and seven-year roadside assistance program.


Kia Sportage GT-Line Diesel


$47,690, plus on-road costs. Price range: $29,990 to $47,690. Premium paint $520.


1995cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, 136kW@4000rpm, 400Nm@1750-2750rpm. Eight-speed automatic transmission. 19-inch alloy wheels, 245/45 R19 tyres. Full-size alloy spare.

Fuel economy

6.4L/100km. 62-litre tank.

Standard safety

Six airbags. Autonomous emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot information. Lane-keep assist. Lane-change assist. Rear-cross traffic alert. Intelligent parking assist. Reversing camera. Front/rear parking sensors. LED daytime running lights. Auto headlights. Rain-sensing wipers. ISOFIX childseat fittings (2).


Eight-inch touch-screen. Satellite navigation. Digital/AM/FM radio. Apple CarPlay. Android Auto. USB input. Bluetooth.

Standard features

Two-zone climate control. Leather trim. Powered, heated and ventilated front seats. Panoramic sunroof. Roof rails. Fully adjustable steering column. Sports steering wheel with paddle shifters. LED headlights. Smart key with push-button start. Heated, folding exterior mirrors.

  • BYD Sealion 6

    2024 BYD Sealion 6 review

    The BYD Sealion 6 is a plug-in hybrid family electric SUV capable of achieving a range of over 1000km if the battery is kept recharged. Can it outshine the Toyota RAV4 Hybird and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the medium SUV segment?
  • Kia EV9 GT-Line

    2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line review

    The Kia EV9 GT-Line is an exceptional family SUV that stands out in every measure. It's a comfortable seven seat vehicle with fully electric propulsion and realistic battery size that delivers over 500km range.