1996 Kia Sportage

  • 1996 Kia Sportage Base Hard Top Sport Utility

    Base Hard Top Sport Utility

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.0L I4
    • MSRP
  • 1996 Kia Sportage EX Hard Top Sport Utility

    EX Hard Top Sport Utility

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.0L I4
    • MSRP
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  • Review

1996 Kia Sportage Review

A bargain-priced offroad SUV from Kia.

Reviewed by Automotive on


Introduced in 1995, the Kia Sportage classifies as a sport utility vehicle that competes in the competitive offroad-oriented segment of the market. Drivers familiar with later Sportage models are in for a slight shock. Instead of a bargain-priced SUV or a crossover SUV, the original Sportage serves as a fairly average offroad model. The 1996 Kia Sportage retains this design from the original release in 1995.

While the 1996 Kia Sportage looks like a somewhat average SUV offering, it performs solidly enough to make a viable choice in its price range. The Sportage fares poorly against higher-priced vehicles, but it holds its own against similarly priced models. Drivers looking for a low-priced offroad vehicle may find that the Kia Sportage fits their needs well.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Kia Sportage, Kia Sportage EX

What's New

The 1996 Kia Sportage comes with a two-wheel drive option. The Sportage also comes equipped with a driver’s side knee airbag.


Measuring 159.4 inches long, the 1996 Kia Sportage seems like a fairly small SUV, making it almost as short as the Jeep Wrangler. The base model only has power window, power locks, and power mirrors as standard features. The Kia Sportage EX features alloy wheels as standard equipment. A roof rack and an exterior spare tire mount also remain available as options.


The Kia Sportage includes only a few comfort features as standard equipment. The Sportage EX adds cruise control to the minimalist base model. Both can add an AM/FM radio, a cassette player, and air-conditioning as optional equipment. The 1996 Kia Sportage EX can also get leather seating as an option.

Performance & Handling

The acceleration and maneuverability in the 1996 Kia Sportage feels a little weak on roadways. The offroad performance seems better, but still not on the same level as some competitors. The small size proves a little misleading, since it performs about as well as lower-priced offroad SUVs. Standard four-wheel drive marks the main performance highlight, since it gives the Kia Sportage good traction in most situations.


While the Sportage serves as a low-priced vehicle, the standard safety features remain typical for an SUV. The 1996 Kia Sportage comes equipped with dual front airbags and rear-wheel anti-lock brakes. The driver’s side knee airbag marks a novel feature to the Sportage, providing additional leg protection in the event of a crash.

EPA Fuel Economy

Kia Sportage 2.0-liter four-cylinder, four-speed automatic: 16/20 mpg city/highway
Kia Sportage 2.0-liter four-cylinder, five-speed manual: 17/21 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Four-wheel drive

You Won't Like

  • Poor-quality construction
  • Small cargo space
  • Different design from most of the Sportage lineup

Sum Up

A bargain-priced offroad SUV from Kia.

If You Like This Vehicle

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See the New 2017 Sportage.

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