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Toyota RAV4


Kia Sportage

Summary

Toyota RAV4

An all-new Toyota RAV4 doesn't just happen. Over the life of the model, there have been four generations over 25 years, which suggests that Toyota invests a lot of time and effort in the development of its mid-sized SUVs.

Now there's a fifth-gen version. The Toyota RAV4 2019 model is more advanced, more high-tech, safer, smarter and more spacious than any version that has come before it.

So, what's it like? Presumably pretty good, right? Read on to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is a handsome, well-priced contender in a crowded mid-sized SUV market that includes the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Toyota's RAV4 and Hyundai's Tucson. The latest generation has, however, been lacking in a key area since its launch in 2016. Has Kia sorted the oversight with this facelifted model?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Toyota RAV48.3/10

This could well be the most complete Toyota model ever made. The brand has nailed the brief with this mid-sized SUV, and in a market where it has traditionally been one of the go-to players, customers now have even more reasons to look at the RAV4 than ever before.

We can't wait to see just how well it stacks up against its rivals in a comparison test. Stay tuned for that.


Kia Sportage7.9/10

Key improvements to the Sportage have made Kia's second best seller even better again, with more safety and a nicer ride the net result. There are plenty of variants to choose from, too.

Our pick is between the Si Premium in petrol or diesel - the AWD oiler is great if you have distance to cover, while the petrol powered car will be lighter and cheaper to maintain if you do your best work around town.

Do the changes to the Kia Sportage for 2018 change your opinion of the car? Let us know in the comments below.

Design

Toyota RAV48/10

This is perhaps the most masculine RAV4 ever - it's like the brand is trying to appeal to dads this time around, as well as mums.

And while it might look like it has take a step up in size, a lot of that comes down to the exterior design and the platform the brand has built the new model off.

The dimensions are as follows: the new model is 4600mm long in GX, GXL and Cruiser guise - which is 5mm less than the previous model. The Edge version is a touch longer at 4615mm. In terms of width, the new model is 1855mm (GX, GXL, Cruiser) and 1865mm broader in Edge guise - so, 10mm and 20mm wider than the old model. As for height, the new model is 1685mm (GX, GXL, Cruiser) or 1690mm (Edge), which is 30mm/25mm lower than the existing model.

That translates well to interior dimensions, too - there's plenty more space, and the cabin has a lot more design flare than it used to.

But the exterior design is the real talking point - the comments on our Facebook walk around video were divided, but I reckon in person it looks really beefy. The standout is the Edge model, which brings a different look - it gets a model-specific front bumper design, grille, skid plate, wheel-arch mouldings, fog-lamp surrounds and rear bumper. It also rides on distinctive 19-inch alloys.

Lower grade models also look pretty slick, and even the low-grade GX with its 17-inch rims looks pretty smart, especially in the bright blue hue.

You'll have to use your imagination to figure out what it would look like with side steps, or a body kit with a more outlandish rear spoiler... though we have no doubt someone will do it. And hey, if you wish there was another soft top version of the RAV4 like we saw way back in the 1990s, you'll be sadly disappointed - it's a hardtop only affair.

Check out the interior photos to see what you make of the fake leather trim... More on the interior below.


Kia Sportage8/10

We're big fans of the Sportage's stylishly bold looks that are proportionate to its size, and thankfully Kia's designers haven't mucked about too much with an already good design.

For the exterior, the front end has been lightly massaged with a new grille design, while the HID headlights on the GT-Line have been dropped in favour of a full LED cluster. 

The fog lamp apertures on the Si and Si Premium have also been redone with sharper lines for more masculine look or, as Kia says, a bit more menace. They also now score LED daytime running lamps across the lineup.

Out back, the tail-light arrays have been tweaked, while the lower bumper has also been tidied up to better match with the chrome trim, as well. The GT-Line's rear faux skid plate has been changed, too.

New wheel designs have been added in all three sizes (17-, 18- and 19-inch in size) as well. Steel Grey is a new colour.

Interior wise, photos will reveal nothing has changed from the 2016 facelift, save for the addition of updated multimedia systems across the range and redesigned steering wheel. Interior dimensions were increased when the PE model was launched in 2016.

Practicality

Toyota RAV48/10

The cabin of the new RAV4 is a big step up in quality, but also in terms of space smarts.

There is good storage available throughout, with a cup holder count of four (two front, two rear in the fold-down armrest), bottle holders in all four doors, and reasonable loose item storage up front near the shifter, between the seats, and even a small Kluger-like shelf in front of the front passenger. Rear seat occupants get a map pocket, and it's not one of those nasty mesh ones.

Human room is really good, too.

Up front there's great seat comfort and pretty good levels of adjustment, though the front passenger seat is quite high in all models, and you can't get electric front passenger adjustment on any model.

The second-row space is exceptional - possibly class leading, in fact. I'm 182cm (six-feet in the old money) and with the driver's seat set to my position I had inches of legroom space, good toe wiggle room, good shoulder room and excellent headroom. If you're a parent with tall teens, this will definitely do the trick - and if you're kids are little, there's easily enough room for a pair of child seats (maybe even three, but we'll have to get CarsGuide Family reviewer Nedahl Stelio to conduct that test on the new RAV4!).

The luggage capacity is a big improvement, too - the boot size is now 580 litres, up 33L on the existing model, with the boot space dimensions extended by 65mm. The boot also features a reversible liner for the dual-level boot floor setup, and there's a cargo cover (or tonneau cover, if you prefer) for the storage space as well. Fleet buyers or dog owners will be able to get a cargo barrier at some point, too. My main complaint for the boot is the electric tailgate system is quite slow.

The GXL, Cruiser and Edge models are fitted with roof rails - helpful for adding a roof rack system.


Kia Sportage8/10

Again, there are no changes to the packaging of Kia's clever little mid-size SUV. If you ever idly wonder 'how many seats does a Kia Sportage have?', the answer is just five.

Storage spaces are plentiful and clever in the Sportage, with two cup holders in the centre console, room for larger bottles in all four doors, as well as a pair of cup holders in the centre rear armrest. 

A pair of ISOFIX baby seat mounts are fitted to each of the rear outboard seats, but the centre rear sash belt is mounted in the ceiling, and it needs to be disconnected if you want to make the most of the large cargo space. It's a pain, to be honest, and it takes away from the car's otherwise good practicality.

The 60/40 split rear seats – which offer plenty of rear legroom even with the front seats ratcheted back - can't be dropped via switches in the rear cargo area, but they do slap down quickly and firmly with the pull of a lever on the sides of the rear seats to increase luggage capacity. 

There is 466 litres of boot space with the seats up – more than the sales-leading Mazda CX-5 – and 1455 litres of boot size in the full-flat position. Boot space dimensions remain the same.

The base Sportage does miss out on a few items that are on the higher grade cars, like an electronic handbrake, while the top-shelf GT Line gets an inductive wireless phone charging tray (Qi).

A cargo net and tie-down hooks can be found in the cargo area of the SLi and above models, and there's a full-sized spare underneath the boot floor on every model. There are also LED lights in the cabin throughout the range.

Despite the Sportage being a medium SUV in size, it fits four adults easily, and three across the rear at a pinch. The driving position is slightly higher than expected, but it's still well suited to both short and tall drivers. 

Controls for commonly-used systems, like the illumination controls for the dashboard, fall easily to hand, and aren't buried in the menu in the multimedia system.

New multimedia systems feature throughout, with a larger 8.0-inch screen for all models except for the base Si (it gets a 7.0-inch screen, but no CD player – what, you haven't heard of an MP3 player?), while all models can be teamed with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also digital radio in the top spec car, along with smart adaptive cruise control.

Price and features

Toyota RAV49/10

How much is a Toyota RAV4? Well, that depends on which model in the range you choose. Here's a price list - model by model - that should act as a guide to the trim levels. These prices are before on-road cost (also known as RRP), but not drive away prices. You may have to wait a little while for deals.

The line-up kicks off with the GX, the standard features levels are generous.

Standard gear includes auto LED headlights (hoorah - no xenon, projector or HID bulbs!), taillights and daytime running lights as well as LED front fog lamps, heated and folding electric exterior mirrors, auto wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels with temporary spare (optional full-size wheel available), fabric seat trim, a urethane steering wheel, air conditioning with rear vents, an 8.0-inch multimedia touch screen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a sound system with six speakers stereo, AM/FM/DAB radio, one USB port, plus a GPS navigation system with SUNA live traffic is standard - yep, sat nav on every model.

There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto - yet. The brand has announced it will be fitting the iPhone iOs / Android mirroring tech to all models from the fourth quarter of this year, and every version sold before then can be retrofitted with the integration. No DVD player, though, and no CD player or CD changer. You'll just have to upgrade to the MP3 age, man.

Hybrid GX models add dual-zone climate control AC and smart key / keyless entry central locking with push button start. All GX models get an electric park brake and rear mudflaps.

The safety on offer is also solid, with all grades getting auto emergency braking with day/night pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, lane keeping assist (manual models with a slightly lower-grade system), adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go for auto models, high-speed only for manuals), auto high beam lights, road sign recognition and alerts, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and seven airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain and driver's knee).

Next up the model range is the GXL, which adds roof rails, window tint at the rear, 18-inch wheels with a 17-inch temporary spare, front and rear mudflaps, "premium embossed fabric seats", a leather steering wheel and shifter, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control, Qi wireless phone charging, keyless entry and push-button start.

The camera has active guidance lines on the display, plus you get three front USBs and two rear USBs.

Third up the ranks is the Cruiser grade, which is visually differentiated by a silver grille, chrome door handles, a "moon roof", 19-inch alloy wheels with a temporary 18-inch rims for the petrol versions (18-inch black alloys with a temporary 17-inch spare for hybrid versions).

The Cruiser's interior almost feels like it has been with the "premium package", with leather-accented seats, heated front seats, 10-way electric driver's seat adjustment with memory settings, leather-accent door trims, a 7.0-inch driver info display, ambient lighting, a reversing camera with a 360-degree monitor, a power tailgate and a nine-speaker JBL sound system with subwoofer.

Top of the range in the model comparison is the RAV4 Edge, which almost looks like a sport edition for outdoorsy people. It can be had in "Jungle Khaki" paint - none of the others can - and inside there is "Softex" fake leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, but the driver's seat weirdly loses the memory function. A panoramic sunroof is optional ($1300) in this grade.

No model comes with a heated steering wheel, nor is any equipped with a seat belt extender or Homelink smart garage door opening. But you will find a tool kit and a spare wheel under the boot floor in each instance - no tyre repair kit here.

On the topic of colours (or colors, if that's how you spell it where you're reading this), there is only one no-cost option colour in the range - Glacier White. The other options are Crystal Pearl (white - not available on GX or Edge), Silver Sky (not available on Edge), Graphite (grey), Eclipse Black, Atomic Rush Red, Eclectic Blue and Saturn Blue (dark blue - not available on Edge). There is no proper green hue, to speak of, but the Jungle Khaki paint for the Edge is close enough.

As for accessories, you should be able to get floor mats in every one of these straight off the showroom floor, and you should be able to get a bull bar, nudge bar or snorkel if you shop around.

How many seats in the RAV4? Five is the answer - there is no third row seat setup, so if you need seven seats, you'll have to shop up to a Kluger or Fortuner.


Kia Sportage8/10

If you're currently asking yourself: 'Hmm. How much is a Kia Sportage?' The answer now is: 'Well, a little more expensive than before.'

The Sportage has jumped in price across the board, thanks mainly to the addition of new standard driver aids like auto emergency braking (AEB) and lane keep assist. Previously, these systems were only available aboard the top-spec GT Line.

Looking at all the Kia Sportage models, the entry level Si now costs $29,990 (up $1000) and its standard features include cloth seats, 17-inch alloys, reversing sensors and reversing camera (with moving guidelines), fog lights, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, an updated 7.0-inch multimedia touch screen with Bluetooth and streaming, three 12-volt plugs and a USB port.

You can access your iPhone or Android equivalent via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too.

A diesel version of the Si – complete with a new eight-speed auto and standard all-wheel-drive – will cost $35,390, an increase of $1400.

The Si Premium adds satellite navigation, front parking sensors, LED running lights, 18-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio and JBL premium sound system with eight speakers. The petrol version has an RRP of $32,390 (up $1400) and the diesel is $37,690.

There is a drive away price on the Si Premium of $31,990 and $37,390. If you ask nicely, you might also get a keener price on the other models in your price range.

The SLi petrol will cost you $36,790 (up $2100) and adds gadgets like an auto dimming rear view mirror, front sensors, LED DRLs, extra chrome trim, LED rear lights, electric handbrake, auto up on passenger front window, a 4.2-inch TFT dash screen, sat nav and automatic wipers. 

Diesel adds $5400 for a new total of $42,190 (an increase of $2500).

The price for the top of the range 2.4-litre Sportage GT-Line, meanwhile, is $44,790 (up $1300) or $47,690 (up $1700) in diesel form. It's well equipped, with leather seats, 19-inch alloys, AEB, lane departure warning, an automatic tailgate, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, as well as gadgets like LED headlights and fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, GPS sat nav, vented and heated powered seats, a sunroof and park assist.

If you're looking for a particular colour, there are a few, including Clear White as standard, Steel Grey, Sparkling Silver, Fiery Red and Mercury Blue, while Snow White Pearl and Cherry Black are exclusive to GT-Line. All colours except Clear White add $520 to the price. Looking for orange or gold like in previous generations of the Sportage? Can't help, I'm afraid.

Engine & trans

Toyota RAV47/10

If you love nothing more than deciphering specifications and ratings, you're in for a treat.

The GX, GXL and Cruiser can be had with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which is only available in front-wheel drive layout, but can be had with either a six-speed manual transmissions (GX only) or CVT auto gearbox (GXL and Cruiser). The 2.0-litre motor is good for 127kW of power and 203Nm of torque.

Stepping up in engine size, the GX, GXL and Cruiser models are also available with a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, which teams a four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine (with 131kW and 221Nm) to an 88kW/202Nm electric motor. The total combined power output is 160kW for the 2WD. The figure jumps to 163kW for the AWD, which gets an additional on-demand 40kW/121Nm electric motor at the rear axle. As is Toyota's way, there's no combined torque figure. All hybrid models run a CVT automatic transmission as standard, and you can run on EV mode under light loads.

The top-spec Edge variant is the only model not available with a hybrid powertrain. Instead, it cops a 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with 152kW of power and 243Nm of torque. It has an eight-speed automatic transmission, and comes with all-wheel drive - the AWD system can split torque between 100 per cent front bias down to a 50:50 ratio front/rear, and rear-axle dynamic torque vectoring. It's not a proper 4x4 system, but Edge models also get a terrain select system with mud & sand, rock & dirt, and snow modes.

Now if you're wondering about the diesel vs petrol argument, forget it - there's no turbodiesel available. Nor is there an LPG model, and there's no plug in hybrid either. No turbo petrol, either.

Towing capacity varies depending on the model - but it's safe to say that if you plan on fitting a tow bar and pulling a large load, you ought to get a version with AWD as the load capacity is bigger and better.

The GX/GXL/Cruiser 2WD (or 4x2) petrol models can deal with 800kg braked towing, while the 2.5L AWD Edge model has a maximum braked towing capacity of 1500kg.

The GX/GXL/Cruiser front wheel drive hybrid models offer a measly 480kg maximum towing, while the AWD hybrid models match the Edge, with 1500kg braked towing.

No gross vehicle weight is specified, but the RAV4 range spans from 1515kg (kerb weight) for the entry-level petrol up to 1745kg for the AWD hybrid.

If you're concerned about manual transmission issues, clutch and gearbox complaints, automatic transmission problems, or battery concerns, check out our Toyota RAV4 problems page.


Kia Sportage7/10

Three engine specifications are available across the Kia Sportage range – which, if a friend asks 'where is the Kia Sportage built?', is made in Ulsan, South Korea.

The base 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine in the Si and SLi has been retained, which is a bit of a surprise – we half expected a more modern direct-injection unit to be subbed in. The engine specs of the base 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine in the Si and SLi are starting to show their age. 

It pushes out 114kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm, and is backed by a six-speed automatic that drives the front wheels

Kia's common rail direct injection 2.0-litre turbo diesel specs, meanwhile, are 136kW at 4000rpm, while its 400Nm of torque is available from as low as 1750rpm. Its horsepower is available across the range.

Its new eight-speed auto is linked to a front-biased all wheel drive system that can send 40 per cent of torque to the rear wheels for extra 4WD traction.

The top grade GT-Line's engine size is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, and sports ratings of 135kW at 6000rpm and torque specs of 237Nm at 4000rpm. It uses a six-speed auto and is only available with AWD. It's not offered with an LPG conversion from the factory.

Towing capacity of the 2.4-litre motor is 1500kg, the 2.0-litre petrol can tow 1600kg, while the diesel can move 1900kg of braked trailer; we will do a towing review soon, but it'll be fine with a small van or boat behind it.

There is no manual transmission available.

Curious about the diesel vs petrol sales breakdown? Kia Australia says the split is 35 per cent diesel, 65 per cent petrol. 

If you are wondering if the Kia Sportage uses a timing belt or chain, all variants of the engine use the latter. A chain is preferable to a timing belt as it gives a longer life.

When it comes to diesel problems, clutch problems or transmission problems, the Sportage has been a good performer since the latest generation launched in 2016. A JD Power reliability rating study ranks it well, with few problems, complaints, issues or common faults. Check out our Kia Sportage problems page for more.

Oil type and capacity varies with engine.

Fuel consumption

Toyota RAV49/10

The 2.0-litre petrol model claims official combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres for the manual, and 6.5L/100km for the auto. We've leave you to figure out the km/l numbers!

Fuel economy for the 2WD hybrid is 4.7L/100km, while the AWD uses a claimed 4.8L/100km -two new petrol benchmarks for the segment. It's like an eternal eco mode!

Fuel use for the Edge's AWD 2.5L engine is 7.3L/100km - this engine is only in the Edge model, yet it still undercuts most of its rivals with similarly-sized engines and AWD.

The fuel tank capacity is 55 litres in size across all models, but it's fair to say your mileage will vary based on the drivetrain.

On test, I was extremely impressed by the dash-displayed average in the AWD hybrid models I drove - 5.5L/100km in the car that we drove through the city and outskirts of Adelaide to the hills; and 5.8L/100km for the version that did a longer freeway stint.

The Edge model saw a return of 10.5L/100km displayed, while the GX 2.0L manual indicated 8.3L/100km, and the GX 2.0L CVT was showing 9.2L/100km.


Kia Sportage7/10

From a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 7.9 litres per 100km, we saw a best combined fuel economy figure on the dash of 10.1L/100km over 100km in the 2.0-litre petrol Si Premium.

Our diesel test, meanwhile, returned a best combined fuel economy mileage figure of 7.2L/100km over 150km, versus a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 6.8L/100km.

The 2.4-litre engine is claimed to return a combined fuel economy figure of 8.5L/100km.

All Kia Sportage models have a fuel tank capacity of 62 litres, while the weight of the car varies between 1532kg for the 2.0-litre FWD, 1642kg for the 2.4-litre AWD and 1736kg for the AWD diesel.

Driving

Toyota RAV48/10

The all-new RAV4 lives up to our expectations.

The brand has some form when it comes to vehicles that have been built off the "Toyota New Generation Architecture", or TNGA, which underpins the new Corolla, Camry, C-HR and Prius. So we expected the RAV4 to be good to drive, more fun than the last one and more confident and refined, too. And it is.

The drivetrains are perhaps the most impressive piece of the puzzle - and yes, the hybrid is the standout. The way the petrol engine, CVT transmission and electric motors work together to ensure the best propulsion in any given circumstance is, quite frankly, excellent.

There is easily enough performance for the vast majority of families, too - sure, you won't be bragging about a scorching "0 100 acceleration" time, but the hybrid RAV4 gathers speed with less effort than you might think, as the battery can give you a boost when you plant your right foot.

And it doesn't sound bad, either, aside from a little bit of whirring from the drivetrain at lower revs. There's a little bit of road noise to contend with - the bigger the wheels, the thinner the tyres, the more noise you'll notice - but it's never deafening, even in the back seat.

The braking confidence of the hybrid model is good too - there's very little of that 'wooden' feel that some hybrid brake pedals exhibit, and it pulls up strongly.

I thought the 2.0-litre base petrol engine might feel undercooked - but it isn't. It's really quite vibrant. I sampled it with the six-speed manual (which was an absolutely charmer - admittedly one that will only account for about two per cent of sales) and the CVT auto, which is going to be vastly more popular.

It isn't a 'regular' CVT - like the Corolla it has the brand's 'Launch Gear' system, a conventional mechanical first gear that then steps across to a variable ratio when it reaches 'second' gear. It worked an absolute treat, and I was impressed by the amount of power available, and likewise the refinement of the engine. It's better than you think it might be.

The 2.5-litre non-hybrid in the Edge model has a bit more of a raucous nature to it. The eight-speed automatic does a real good job, and some people will prefer that to a CVT auto for obvious reasons. It was gusty and eager, and on the rainy test loop we drove it, the mechanical all-wheel drive system did a great job at stopping it from spinning up the front tyres, pushing power to the rear axle with a pleasant (yet very minor) drivetrain thunk.

But with the drivetrain tech being so finessed in the hybrid, it's hard to see why you would choose the top-spec Edge over one of the more affordable petrol-electric versions... aside from the look, of course.

As for ride comfort, things are mostly pretty good. There's a bit of jitter at higher speeds over less-than-perfect surfaces, but it was comfortable enough on the highway, and even better around town - an important stipulation, given most people will spend a lot of time running around in their RAV4.

The electric power steering is very nice - predictable and accurate, with some feel to proceedings that other SUVs in the segment simply can't match. It's engaging to drive, and a huge improvement over its predecessor in that regard.

And if you're interested in how the tech performed, the blind spot monitor came in handy because there's quite a blind-spot over your shoulder when you driving, and while the lane departure warning is a little eager, the lane assist system that keeps you centred on highways is quite handy.

If you're wondering about off road specs, here are the details: approach angle - 17.5 degrees; departure angle - 20.0 degrees; break-over / ramp-over angle - not listed; ground clearance mm - 195mm for petrol models, 190mm for hybrids.

How does that translate to off road capability? Luckily, for this launch review, we had a chance to sample the RAV4 in the rough stuff at JAKEM farm outside Adelaide - and look, the tracks that were chosen were probably doable in a Corolla, for the most part, but there was a section of moguls where we managed to get a feel for the hybrid version's active torque split and torque vectoring system (for the rear axle) and it was pretty capable, even on big wheels. The off road drive modes help in that regard, allowing the VSC (stability control system) more leeway, and the Edge model has a centre diff lock, too.

That could be the biggest downfall of the RAV off-road - the rim sizes are big. You might want to fit some 17 inch alloy wheels or steelies with off road tyres, instead of the 18s and 19s that are on higher-grade versions. Sure, they mightn't look quite as tough under the Edge's wheel arch extensions, but the grip improvements could be worth it if you're serious about adventure.

We didn't get to test the wading depth of the RAV4 - and the brand doesn't state a figure, as such. But the 11.0-metre turning radius meant it was easy to pivot through tighter corners off road. The front suspension was a marginally more resolved than the rear over choppy surfaces, but honestly, I wouldn't be thinking of this as a successor to the FJ Cruiser - even if it does have funky design on its side.

One omission is a downhill brake assist system, or hill descent control. You can get that on some rivals in this segment.


Kia Sportage8/10

Kia has taken the opportunity to further tweak the ride and handling of the Sportage to better suit our roads.

The steering gear ratio has very slightly changed, along with new bushes in the front MacPherson strut suspension and front sub-frame tweaks. The Sportage's German-made ZF Sachs dampers have been extensively reworked, as well, to give it a more comfortable ride. 

There is a little bit of difference in all three powertrains, too; there are lighter springs for the FWDs, heavier ones in the rear suspension for the AWD, and three unique different shock tunes for all three engines.

The Sportage is built for a life around town, and the lighter, front-drive, petrol-powered cars are perfect for it. 

The 2.0-litre engine gets thrashy when acceleration is needed up hills, though, with the auto occasionally confused by which ratio to pick and hold. 

Despite its age, the engine is still a very smooth and tractable unit when coasting around on light throttle, even though its 0-100 performance figures won't disturb a hot hatch.

The 2.4-litre engine fares better, though its AWD drivetrain does take the top edge of its ability to nip up hills.

The Sportage's diesel is light on its feet, even with the addition of the heavier AWD/eight-speed auto drivetrain. It's also impressively quiet, letting minimal road noise into the cabin. 

The suspension changes are small but meaningful, and it's the sum of a few small changes that make up the whole.

This is not an offroad or 4x4 review; after all, the capability of a road-going SUV in brown dirt is minimal at best. Its ground clearance of 172mm, for example, is about 50mm less than that of a Subaru XV, and Kia doesn't even suggest a safe wading depth for the Sportage.

Overall, the newly tweaked Sportage is a comfortable, stable and simple car to drive, with few of the compromises that sometimes come with a taller SUV.

Safety

Toyota RAV48/10

At the time of writing, the hasn't yet been an ANCAP safety rating awarded to the new RAV4 - but the company has stated it anticipates a five-star score under the strict 2019 criteria.

A lot of that comes down to the features available in the new model - and there's plenty of safety tech fitted across the entire range.

All grades are fitted with auto emergency braking (AEB) with day/night pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, lane keeping assist (manual models with a slightly lower-grade system), adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go for auto models, high-speed only for manuals), auto high beam lights, road sign recognition and alerts, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

That spec list is strong, but it doesn't have rear AEB which you get on every CX-5, and there's no head-up display, either. That, combined with an unknown safety score, mean the model range can't quite get a top score here.

All models have a reverse camera along with front and rear parking sensors, but there's no semi-autonomous park assist like you'll find in a Tiguan.

Every RAV4 has seven airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain and driver's knee), and there are dual ISOFIX baby car seat attachments, and three top-tether hooks, too.

Where is the Toyota RAV4 built? Australian-delivered models are sourced from Japan.


Kia Sportage8/10

The base spec Si, Si Premium and SLi have all gained vital electronic safety features including auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, lane keep assist which works with the steering to keep the Sportage in a lane, and downhill speed control. 

Blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic parking is available in the top-spec Sportage Platinum GT-Line.

All Sportages also offer six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, as well as front and rear parking sensors (rear only on Si) and a reversing camera. All cars also have full-sized spares.

A 'variance submission' has been submitted to ANCAP for the updated Sportage, with Kia hoping to receive a top five-star safety rating from ANCAP.

Ownership

Toyota RAV49/10

Toyota recently introduced its new customer promise - a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, which can be extended to seven years extended warranty provided your car has "logbook servicing" - and that doesn't necessarily have to have been carried out by Toyota's own dealer workshops, either.

The brand also has a capped price servicing plan for the RAV4, and no matter the model, the service cost is the same - $210 per maintenance visit, and these are due every 12 months/15,000km, whichever occurs first. That's incredibly good value.

If you're concerned about potential problems or common faults - possibly around battery defects or or issues - Toyota will do a "battery health check" at the five-year point, and will monitor the battery health every year thereafter, with the warranty for that part of the hybrid model drivetrain spanning 10 years.

Our Toyota RAV4 problems page is the best destination if you want to understand reliability ratings find out common complaints, and it should even give you an idea about resale value, too. Oh, and while you might find the info online, it also pays to check the owners manual for info on oil type, capacity and consumption.


Kia Sportage9/10

Kia's seven-year warranty is still among the best in the automotive business, and it includes roadside assist and a free first service at three months.

Capped-price servicing covers the warranty period, as well, with $419 the lowest and $726 the highest service costs over four years for the diesel-powered cars, with a seven-year total of $3695; that's an average cost of $528 per service. Make sure your owner's manual gets ticked.

The petrol engine program costs between $306 and $711 per service. The majority of services are under $400, with seven years of maintenance costs equalling an average of $420-ish, for a total of $2942.

Resale value for most Korean brands is still not as good as some of their Japanese rivals; a 2015 Sportage Platinum diesel, for example, will have lost about 30 per cent of its new value if trading in, or about 12 per cent on a private sale.

Waiting time on new cars is minimal, according to Kia.