We absolutely did not see that coming.
Korean marque Kia has unveiled its Telluride 3-row 8-seater SUV in the most unlikely of places, and in the most unlikely of forms. The Telluride has existed as a concept since early 2016, but this week the big Korean left its mark in near-production form, albeit dressed up in look-at-me off-road kit, at New York Fashion Week.
The big Telluride took centre-stage at the fashion show of Brandon Maxwell. As part of a deal with the brand, where Kia would donate money to Maxwell’s childhood school in Marfa (in Texas), the Telluride got pride placement at his New York fashion show. The Telluride seen isn’t 100% production-spec though, if you didn’t guess already; Don’t expect to find a spare wheel, leather tie-downs, a snorkel or a mounted ladder even on the options list.
What’s important to bear in mind is that this is very much a production-gestation of the Telluride, which we’ve only thus far seen as a concept. As such, the bold aesthetics of the concept car have been softened for production, with less in-your-face details like the headlights and taillights, but maintaining the overall squared-off look that had people gathering round it back in ’16.
The cabin of the Telluride reveals its true intent: To offer more space than its previous range-topping SUV, the Sorento. Where the Sorento only sits 7 at maximum capacity, the Telluride will offer 8, and decent room for luggage. But on this (fashion) showcar, it’s clear to see that aesthetics took precedent over technics, so there’s lashings of hard-wearing cowboy-boot leather on the dash-top and door cards; Whether that’ll make production we can’t say, but don’t pin your hopes on it.
We know that the Telluride will also differ from the Sorento in another key aspect: The powertrain. The Telluride will get motivation from a V6 petrol engine, something the Sorento does not offer and the North American market will appreciate greatly. You can tell that they’re the primary focus of the Telluride, from the way it’s designed to the way it’s packaged. There’s little chance that the Telluride will make it to Australia given that it’s a left-hand drive offering, though we’re made to understand that Kia Australia has raised the issue with head office in South Korea and may get an interesting answer back.