Kia Sportage SUV Marks 30th Anniversary Milestone

July 2023
  • Over 7 million Kia Sportage have been sold worldwide since the best-selling model’s launch in 1993.
  • Five generations of Sportage have introduced cutting-edge safety, performance and design to drivers around the globe.
  • Gloss black exterior accents, enhanced acoustic laminated glass and meticulously crafted suede seats add to Sportage’s premium appeal.

Upon its inception in 1993, the Sportage has left an indelible mark on the automotive industry. With over seven million units sold across five generations, the Sportage has solidified its position as Kia’s best-selling model globally since 2015, captivating drivers with its distinctive design and inspiring performance. This remarkable achievement underscores Kia’s commitment to delivering vehicles that embody innovation, quality, and enduring appeal.

“The Kia Sportage was a groundbreaking product from day one,” said Tae-Hun (Ted) Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Operations Division. “Over the 30 years since, it has remained true to its revolutionary origins, bringing cutting-edge safety, performance and design to drivers around the world.

Generational Evolution of the Kia Sportage

A pioneering compact SUV, the Sportage holds special significance as Kia’s first unique model exported overseas. The first-generation Sportage stood out with its sleek design, spacious interior, and sedan-like driving experience, setting it apart from traditional off-road-focused SUVs.

Technologically advanced, it featured innovations such as a ‘body-on-frame’ design that enabled a more dynamic stance, electronically controlled on-the-fly 4WD switching, rear coil springs, and the world’s first knee airbags. Thanks to its advanced concept and outstanding product appeal, the first-generation Sportage made a significant impact in the US market, establishing Kia as a successful brand in North America.

First generation Sportage

From the second generation onwards, the Sportage adopted a modern monocoque platform, enhancing ride comfort and capitalising on the growing SUV demand to achieve sales performance exceeding twice that of the first generation. The second generation prioritised quality and safety, ranking first in the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) in 2005.

Second generation Sportage

The third generation, known as the Sportage R (Revolution), showcased its innovative spirit through its design. Its outstanding appeal garnered global recognition and saw the Sportage surpass two million units in sales. The Tiger Nose grille design earned widespread acclaim and prestigious accolades like the iF Design, Good Design, and Red Dot awards. It also achieved impressive safety ratings, including a five-star Euro New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) rating in 2010 and being designated as a Top Safety Pick (TSP) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the US in 2011. Additionally, it consistently ranked first in J.D. Power’s quality surveys (2013 Initial Quality Study, 2015 Vehicle Dependability Study), solidifying its reputation as a stylish, safe, and high-quality vehicle.

Third generation Sportage

The fourth generation focused on safety enhancements and convenience features, addressing the rigorous small overlap front crash tests conducted by the IIHS and incorporating advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It expanded its customer base in the compact SUV segment by adopting downsized engines. Since its introduction in 2015, the Sportage has remained Kia’s best-selling car for eight consecutive years.

Fourth generation Sportage

The fifth generation, introduced in 2021, further prioritised safety with a multi-structure body and increased mid-size SUV proportions. Its striking appearance, inspired by Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, along with diverse powertrain options (e.g. LPG, hybrid, PHEV, diesel, and gasoline turbo) earned it widespread recognition and numerous automotive awards on the global stage.

The 2024 Sportage

To mark three decades of outstanding success, Kia has equipped the 2024 Sportage with enhanced specification, focusing on convenience and safety while further elevating the model’s considerable luxury and design appeal.

Key among these enhancements is the introduction of acoustic laminated glass in the first and second rows, significantly improving interior quietness.

Additionally, Kia has reinforced safety features to align with the SUV’s renowned reputation as a family vehicle.

This includes the incorporation of eight airbags, including first-in-class rear seat left and right-side airbags.

Editor’s note: this press release and accompanying photos are based on the Korean market specifications.

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