Used 1997 Kia Sportage

1997 Kia Sportage
List price range

Pros

  • Slick styling, cheap price, spunky DOHC engine

Cons

  • Build quality, cargo room, cheap interior materials

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Many residents of the Midwest and along the East Coast don't know what the heck a Kia is. Kia's are built near Seoul, South Korea, and are currently sold in western and southeastern U.S. markets. The company builds an inexpensive compact sedan, called the Sephia, and a wonderfully affordable sport utility called the Sportage.

Part-owned by Ford and Mazda, Kia relies heavily on resources from both companies as it struggles to its feet in a tough marketplace. The Sportage is the product of a collaboration between Kia, Ford, Mazda and suspension-tuning guru Lotus. Designed from the start as a sport utility, the Sportage sports tough ladder frame construction, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive, and a Mazda-based powerplant.

Two trim levels are available: base and EX. Base models are well-trimmed, including power windows, tinted glass, split-folding seats, a remote fuel door release, power mirrors and a rear defroster. Power door locks, a theft deterrent system, and a spare tire carrier are newly standard for 1997. The EX adds cruise control, rear wiper and a remote liftgate release. Optional are a roof rack, air conditioning, premium stereo, CD player, leather interior, an automatic transmission and a limited slip differential.

A wide variety of colors are available on the Sportage's smoothly styled flanks; few of which appear to have originated from the minds of the folks currently in charge of painting Matchbox cars. The look is rugged yet cute; perfect for family duty in the burbs. Off-road, we found the Sportage confidence-inspiring, but it didn't feel as tight as a Toyota RAV4.

For most owners, that won't matter. Few SUV's actually leave the pavement, and on the pavement is where the Sportage shines. Lotus engineers worked wonders here, and the Sportage is stable and comfortable. The seating position is high and upright, visibility is outstanding, and the layout of the dashboard and controls is top-notch. Rear seat riders enjoy lots of room and support, afforded by "stadium style" elevated seating. From the driver's seat, the Sportage looks and feels much more substantial than its low price would lead you to believe. Our only quibble with the Sportage's interior was the lack of storage space, though this year's standard spare tire carrier certainly helps.

Kia hopes the younger families and active singles that will be buying the Sportage will find its affordability a welcome trade for some cargo room. With a loaded 4WD EX topping out at around $21,000, we think they've got little to worry about.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Kia Sportage.

Sportage EX 4x4 Time to let go of it.
jkwh50a, 11/14/2002
I purchased this Kia new in 1997, except for the Check Engine light which came on all the time during the first 3- 4 years, I have not had any major problems. I currently have 107,000 miles on it and it still starts and runs good every day. Just oil changes every 5,000 miles and a front gear clutch at 59,000, covered by warrantee. I am now in the market for a new car and am considering KIA again. I feel I got my moneys worth out of this car. I did also replace the front windshield glass 3 times due to stones, maybe the Kia glass is too soft I dont know.
Great Little SUV
Bob, 10/31/2005
This vehicle has been a proven performer. With the proper maintenance I have driven 83,000 miles without any repairs. (I forgot I did replace the horn.) It is a joy to drive and very comfortable on long trips. I would take this vehicle anywhere without worry.
Nightmare
Elnur, 3/8/2006
Door key cylinder fell inside the door body the day I brought it home. I had nearly 20 visits to the dealership that year for that problem alone. There were times I was entering the car from the passenger side. 2nd year: O2 sensor went, front brakes cylinders (?) collapsed, service light came on and off. I developed tennis elbow using the Kia shift stick For as long as I owned the car: The car shook anytime over 45 mph - multiple visits to dealership. A horrible rattling sound under the driver's side - multiple visits to dealership. Could not get a clear view in the rear when reversing. Overall an annoying, frustrating and painful experience!
3 months, and it's dead
Flintlock, 7/20/2006
I bought the car used to replace my Geo Metro. Paid $1400 for it, thought it was a great deal. It had low miles for a reason. Drove it 1 month and had to replace the fuel pump, major ordeal. Ran for two more months, stalling shaking, bad fuel economy. Now the timing belt broke. I'll fix it, sell it, and drive my Saturn I had to buy because this Kia is such a piece of junk.
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Features & Specs

MPG
17 city / 20 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
N/A
MPG
17 city / 21 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
N/A
MPG
17 city / 21 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
N/A
MPG
17 city / 20 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
N/A
See all Used 1997 Kia Sportage features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 Kia Sportage
Used 1997 Kia Sportage Overview

The Used 1997 Kia Sportage is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 4dr SUV, 4dr SUV 4WD, EX 4dr SUV 4WD, and EX 4dr SUV.

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