To be fair this is actually my girlfriend's car but I drive it almost as much as she does. Everything about this car is average: the interior, the exterior, the performance. Nothing impressive. But I have actually become a Kia fan because of the reliability. We've had this thing on several long road trips with no problems. Other than maintenance items and a transmission fluid change at 45k miles due to hard shifting this thing has never let us down. I have a rear-wheel drive V8 and am looking for an 4WD SUV for winter. I just might get a KIA Sportage of my own.
Reliability is the only thing I really like about this car but that makes everything else much more bearable.
All of the improvements I'd recommend they've probably already done on the newer models of the Sportage. These include nicer interior, especially more comfortable seats. A more powerful engine and better handling. But like I said if you want a used SUV that is reliable I would definitely consider one of these.