Sportage was sold in either a four-door or a two-door soft-top convertible. The first-generation Sportage was discontinued in North America for 2002 and worldwide for 2003 and put on hiatus until a second generation model was ready. The four-door model measures just a quarter of one inch longer and the same width as the Geo Tracker, but boasts 130hp (97kW) and optional four wheel drive. The 1998 Kia Sportage was the world's first production vehicle to be equipped with a knee airbag. This first generation model (1995-2002) sold in low numbers even domestically in South Korea, however, and post-Hyundai takeover models (1997-2002) were recalled twice for rear wheels dismounting while driving.
From 1995, the Sportage was built in Germany and European buyers only received German-built versions, while the rest of the world received Korean-built versions.
After a 2-year hiatus, the 2005 Sportage returned, sharing its Elantra-based platform with the 2005 Hyundai Tucson. As part of the shift, the Kia Sorento now becomes Kia's compact off-road SUV, and the Sportage moves to become Kia's first crossover SUV. The Sportage will also have a 2.0L I4 Diesel engine available in the United Kingdom. Pricing starts at just over US$16,000. Critics and fans of the original, pre-Hyundai Sportage complain that it is considerably larger than the original Sportage and has none of the earlier offroad capability, the two keys for its success. However, buyers of the second generation model are likely to favor the available 173hp (129kW) V6, with 178 pounds of torque (241 N·m). The ride is considerably more comfortable, quiet and fun. Overall fit/finish and quality is noticeably improved over the 1st generation model. Facelift model of the second generation was introduced in May 2008. Since 2007, it is manufactured in Slovak plant in Žilina.