The 2002 Kia Sportage is a smaller sport utility vehicle (SUV) for buyers on a budget. Kia is owned by Hyundai, a maker that thought it wise to build its entry-level, budget vehicles under a different name and aimed at younger buyers. It isn’t a class leader, but it is worth a look for its features, fun-to-drive feel, and the option of a manually-operated convertible, something rather rare in this segment. The build quality is decent, although the interior materials aren’t up to par, even in this reduced price range. Buyers wanting performance should probably look elsewhere. But, all things considered, it is a solid buy shoppers on a budget.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed-automatic, five-speed-manual
Models: Kia Sportage
The 2002 Kia Sportage is now offered with four-doors in just one trim level with more standard features than before, but leather upholstery is no longer available. The EX and Limited models have been discontinued. All Sportages are now equipped with body-color door handles and an exterior latch on the rear hatch to ease loading cargo. A Two-Tone Package is available for hardtops, this option group contains two-tone cladding, bumpers and fenders and a cladding-color roof rack and hard-face spare tire cover. The standard list of safety features has been expanded to include seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters for the airbags.
The 2002 Kia Sportage can be had in two body styles, a two-door soft-top convertible and a four-door hardtop with either 2WD or 4WD. There is only one base trim level. It has standard exterior gear that includes 15-inch alloy wheels, intermittent wipers, power door mirrors, partial stainless steel exhaust, front double wishbone suspension, multi-link rear suspension, full-size spare tire, body-colored front and rear bumpers with two front tow hooks, and privacy glass.
The 2002 Kia Sportage uses a truck-style body on frame construction. It is on the smaller side, but that’s typical for vehicles in this segment. The 7.9 inches of ground clearance combined with truck-style construction methods allow the Sportage to handle off-road duties, but it is wise not to test the build quality or risk getting stuck as the optional four-wheel drive is for slippery conditions and not getting out of ditches or deep mud.
The 2002 Kia Sportage offers a solid list of standard interior equipment that includes, power locks, power steering, power windows, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, driver seat with manual adjustable lumbar support, tilt adjustable steering wheel, day-night rearview mirror, four-way front seats, a stereo that can have a CD player, and multiple storage areas. The cabin is decently sized with room for five occupants, and while not luxurious, there is a decent amount of gear for the price, and it is somewhat comfortable.
Performance & Handling
The 2002 Kia Sportage uses a 130-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 16-valve engine that produces 127 lb-ft of torque and hooks up with a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. It may have either two-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive. It should be noted that the four-wheel drive is designed only for slippery surfaces and not for serious off-roading or mudding. The acceleration is substandard and lags behind other in class rivals. Some driving situations, like passing, freeway entrance, and going up inclines, can be problematic when operating a vehicle with such anemic power. Plan ahead and plan to take longer to do things in this vehicle.
The 2002 Kia Sportage's handling is far from car-like or agile, but a wide stance adds cornering stability and there isn’t excessive body lean. The brakes are safe enough but still average. The ride isn’t brutal, but it’s not car-like either. The Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V offer much better ride quality for the money. Noise levels are too high and rather distracting.
The 2002 Kia Sportage has standard safety equipment that includes front airbags to protect the head and upper body, and a driver’s knee airbag that employ force limiters, seatbelt pre-tensioners, side impact bars, child seat anchors, anti-theft alarm system, rear center lap belt, and electronic brake force distribution. Anti-lock brakes are optional for all models. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has performed crash safety tests so the safety gear list will have to suffice for buyers weighing the safety issue in different budget SUVs.
EPA Fuel Economy
Kia Sportage: 17/21 mpg city/highway
- Budget price
- Equipment levels
- Great build quality
- Fun to drive
- Convertible body style
You Won't Like
- Weak engine
- Subpar interior materials
- Cramped rear seat
- Limited cargo room
Reasonably-priced SUV is worth serious consideration.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda CR-V
- Subaru Forester
- Jeep Wrangler
- Toyota RAV4
- Ford Escape