Which Kia Sportage Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Kia Motors first introduced its Sportage crossover compact SUV series in 1995. Kia Sportage series was originally designed as family-friendly SUVs and constructed with high quality, durable materials, better configuration, and additional internal space to deliver excellent power, speed, and ultimate comfort while driving the vehicle on the highways.

Unfortunately, all released Kia Sportage models are not built with similar high-end reliability, and some models are considered the most problematic ones.

Thus, if you are interested in purchasing a new or used Sportage, first learn which released years of Kia Sportage models are safe and which are not from today’s article.

Kia Sportage Years To Avoid (List of Years)

Over the years, Kia has modified and improvised its Sportage models style and structural design several times to overcome previous flaws.

The brand also successfully came up with some incredible Sportage models that won most consumers’ hearts, but some also became a headache for the users due to those models’ several troubleshooting issues and defective parts.

What Are The Worst Years Of Kia Sportage?

According to the Kia Sportage Reliability Problems report, 2000, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2017 years of the Sportage models are not worth buying. 

Therefore, now I will be providing a short yet precise overview of why you should avoid these particular Kia Sportage years’ models from your preference list-

2000 Kia Sportage Models:

This year’s Sportage models got 468 complaints, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially issued four recalls against 2000 Sportage models.

Most complaints indicate engine, interior, clutch, and transmission issues. And most highlighted issues among them were engine failure to turn over, rusted frame, and front hub failure.

2001 Kia Sportage Models:

A total sum of 362 complaints was reported against this year’s Sportage models, and NHTSA has officially issued two recalls against 2001 Sportage models.

Most complaints were against their engine, drivetrain, cooling system, electrical, and transmission. And most emphasized issues were 4-wheel drive failure, no power, runs rough, bad odor or smell, and engine failure.

2011 Kia Sportage Models:

This year’s Sportage models got 220 complaints reported by consumers, and NHTSA has also officially published five recalls against 2011 Sportage models.

Most of the complaints came against their engine, brakes, A/C or heater, and interior. And most highlighted issues were engine or turbo oil cooler failure, repeated engine failure, and master cylinder failure.

2012 Kia Sportage Models:

It’s the most problematic released year of the Kia Sportage till this date and got 428 complaints reported.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially issued four recalls against 2012 Sportage models.

Most complaints stated engine, interior, window or windshield, and cooling system problems.

Also, the most highlighted issues among them were engine shuts down while driving, excess engine noise, and poor MPG.

2013 Kia Sportage Models:

This released year’s Sportage models obtained 373 user complaints, and NHTSA has officially issued two recalls against 2013 Sportage models.

Most complaints claimed engine, interior, A/C or heater, and body or paint-related issues. Also, the most highlighted issues were vehicle dies while driving, blown engine, and uncomfortable seats.

2017 Kia Sportage Models:

This released year’s Sportage models obtained 288 complaints, and NHTSA has also issued three recalls against 2017 Sportage models.

Most complaints stated engine, A/C or heater, transmission system, window or windshield, and exterior accessories-related issues. Also, the most highlighted issues were engine failure, transmission slipping, window regulator, and motor failure.

What Makes These Kia Sportage Years Worth Avoiding? 

I assume the earlier discussion on Sportage’s worst-released years already gave you hints of the most common problems of Kia Sportage vehicles.

Still, I would like to highlight and talk about them a little more in this section-

1. Sportage Engine Problem:

One of the most reported issues against Sportage models is the several engine-related issues that the majority of the users encountered.

The engine problem or failure got serious and troublesome with Sportage’s 2012, 2013, and 2017 released models.

Reportedly, consumers have encountered issues or symptoms such as blown engine, stalls, runs rough or dies while driving, excess knocking noise coming from the engine, speed controller failure, poor MPG, and engine cooling system failure.

2. Sportage Interior Problem:

Another commonly highlighted problem is the faulty interior accessories of some particular Kia Sportage models.

Although no major issue or damage was reported so far due to Sportage’s faulty interior, based on the information given in the Copilot’s report, the interior problems were still notable in some pre-2010 and 2013 Kia Sportage models.

That same Copilot’s report also claims that consumers reported significant discomfort handling their vehicles due to faulty interior accessories.

According to the Carcomplaints.com  website, consumers reported experiencing issues such as Bluetooth not responding, radio not working properly, doors opening too easily, uncomfortable seats or faulty seat belts, the raw gas odor coming from the vehicle, as well as overhead noise coming from the Visor, and dome light keep illuminating.

3. Sportage Braking Failure:

Another commonly mentioned problem is the unstable brakes of some Sportage models.

According to the Carcomplaints.com website’s report, Kia Sportage 2011 models got the most complaints against its brakes.

Consumers also claim to notice issues, such as premature wear, squealing noise coming from brakes, ABS light staying on, brakes light switch failure, the vehicle would not start due to locked brakes, master cylinder failure, and park brake light keeps illuminating while driving.

4. Other Sportage Problem:

Besides the above-discussed main problems, some other highlighted issues are the check engine light malfunction, clutch problem, A/C or heater failure, windows or windshield trouble, and cooling system problem.

Based on the wvdot.com website’s article information, the check engine warning light used to malfunction in Kia Sportage’s 1995-2000 years early released models because of the throttle position switch or TPS problems. 

But it seems like after Kia tried to fix the issue, check engine light malfunctioning issues still often occur in recently released models.

Even the clutch failure was reported by several 2000 Sportage users, where they encountered symptoms like clutch not working properly, or clutch master cylinder failure.

Kia Sportage 2001, 2011, 2013, and 2017 released models’ users have reported A/C or heater malfunctioning on their vehicle.

They reported issues like the A/C compressor turning loud and noisy, air conditioning failing to blow cold air, and A/C blowing hot air or heat blowing cold air.

In the worst scenario, complete A/C failure required an entire replacement, including the condenser, compressor, and receiver replacement.

Some users have reported experiencing other electrical connection errors while owning particular Sportage models, but mostly, those were common electrical issues for any vehicle.

Which Kia Sportage Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the KIA SPORTAGE MODEL YEAR COMPARISON detailed report and graphical representation posted on the CarComplaints.com website, you can count the following released years of Sportage models as safe options-  

  • 1995-99 Kia Sportage
  • 2002 Kia Sportage
  • 2005 Kia Sportage
  • 2007 Kia Sportage
  • 2010 Kia Sportage
  • 2015 Kia Sportage
  • 2016 Kia Sportage
  • 2019 Kia Sportage
  • 2020 Kia Sportage


One of the best facts about the Kia Sportage series is that these models do not only ensure durability and reliability, but drivers can also get a pleasant sporty feeling while driving them. However, there are some Sportage models, which are infamous for being troublesome.

Therefore, if you are in the market and looking for a reliable new or used compact crossover SUV model, I recommend going for the Kia Sportage series. But at the same time, be aware of the models that came with lots of mistakes and flaws to be considered the most problematic ones.

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