The result of Kia’s desire to “get back to traditional SUV styling.”
Korean marque Kia, known for its value-driven no-nonsense products, have unveiled their plushest & poshest SUV to date in an aim to take on the highly-competitive mid-size American SUV market, rated at 1.6-million units a year (and projected to grow to 1.8-million by 2023). Called the Telluride, the new big Kia’s taken a different approach to design & aesthetics that they reckon will help set them apart in the mid-size segment.
Speaking on the matter was Kia’s North American boss Michael Cole, who explained that the size of the segment meant they had to be there, but took a decidedly bold approach to make a splash.
“It’s very much a US-targeted vehicle. [Kia] wanted to get back to traditional SUV styling. So many EVs and SUVs these Das are trying to look sporty and more car-like, more [saloon]-like. We didn’t want to go with that approach. It’s not retro, but we like the genuine look & feel, the purity of old-school SUVs with the long [bonnets], more upright windshield, not a lot of glass angles, more tumblehome and a little more upright. It just feels more purposeful & genuine to us.” – Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia North America
We have to say, they’ve done a cracking job with this.
The car was designed with style icons like the Ford Bronco and classic Land Rovers in mind, hence the design that was eventually put forwards. But while the exterior is very much a retro-meets-modern affair, the interior is a bit more on par with what Kia’s used to doing. The design emphasises the width of the cabin, and utilises unfinished wood & brushed metallic-like accents to brighten up the appearance. There are also grab-handles that flank the centre console that apparently highlight the car’s adventurous nature (verdict’s out on that one).
Being a large SUV (despite Kia’s repeated attempts to call it a mid-size), you’ll find as many as 8-seats in the Telluride (split 2-3-3 across three rows), but Kia reckons a sizeable number of Telluride’s will be sold as a 7-seater, where the second-row bench gets swapped out in favour of a pair of captain’s chairs.
Under the ‘long bonnet’ lies a V6 petrol engine, putting out 217kW and 355Nm. Power goes to all-four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox and a trick all-wheel drive system that can transfer torque between the axles as and when needed. There will be a plug-in hybrid powertrain setup unveiled later in the year, and that is said to offer up as much as 300kW.
As Cole alluded, the Telluride was very much a car formulated in North America to tackle the North American market. He mentioned a desire to export, but emphasised that the focus had always been trained on hole soil. As a result, don’t get your hopes up that they’ll convert the handsome Telluride from left- to right-hand drive and sell it here. That said, if you’re hankering after a large SUV with as many as 7-seats and a propensity for aesthetic flair, have you tried the Mazda CX-9?