2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD
2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
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Used cars: Kia Sportage, 2000-2002

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By Chris Chase

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When the original Kia Sportage first went on sale in Canada in 2000, it was already seven years old, having been launched elsewhere in the world in 1993. No wonder, then, that it felt relatively crude compared to its competitors, which included the car-based Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Even the Suzuki Vitara, which was similarly rear-wheel drive and truck based, seemed somewhat more advanced than the Sportage of the time.

The last first-generation Sportage was sold in Canada in 2002, when the name went on hiatus until the redesigned, second-generation model went on sale in 2005, having been engineered alongside the Hyundai Tucson.

Like its Hyundai sibling, the new Sportage was a car-based crossover with front-wheel drive mechanicals that could be optioned up to an automatic all-wheel drive system. The base engine was a 2.0-litre four-cylinder (140 hp/136 lb-ft), while the upgrade was a Sportage-first 2.7-litre V6 (173 hp/178 lb-ft), both of which were shared with the Tucson. Transmissions were a five-speed manual (four-cylinder only) and a four-speed automatic.

2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD
2009 Kia Sportage LX V6 AWD; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

The 2009 Sportage got updated styling inside and out and a few new standard features, but the mechanicals remained the same.

In 2005, fuel consumption figures ranged from 10.6/7.8 L/100 km (city/highway) for a four-cylinder, front-drive, manual transmission model, to 12.4/9.4 for a V6, automatic, all-wheel drive version. By 2009, those figures had improved to 10.3/7.8 (four-cylinder, manual, front-drive) and 11.7/8.8 (V6, auto, AWD).

Like the Hyundai Tucson, the Sportage has held up well, earning an above-average used vehicle reliability rating from Consumer Reports. A number of the same trouble spots crop up, though. Dead batteries, caused by a radio that siphons electricity even when the car is off, have been an issue, and the Sportage is affected by the same anti-lock braking recall as the Tucson. A stalling problem seems to be linked to an engine misfire ultimately caused by a clogged fuel filter.

2005 Kia sportage EX-V6
2005 Kia sportage EX-V6
2005 Kia sportage EX-V6; photos by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

Consumer Reports also notes a couple of problems that it doesn’t specifically address in the Tucson. One is with the car’s cruise control system, which frequently refused to “set.” According to this and this, the cause is a burned-out brake light bulb. If the cruise doesn’t work AND the stability control warning light comes on, the cause might be a bad brake light switch (located down at the brake pedal assembly). This was addressed in a recall issued in 2009.

CR mentions faulty climate control blowers. I couldn’t find much anecdotal information online, but did come across a couple mentions of noisy blowers, possibly caused by bad bearings. I also found two or three mentions of air conditioning that blows cold for a half-hour or so, and then cycles off and won’t turn on again for about 15 minutes; another symptom is visible vapour from the vents while the A/C is on. The probable cause, say owners posting on-line, is a temperature sensor designed to keep the A/C evaporator from freezing up during prolonged use of the air conditioning.

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