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Future models - Kia - Telluride

Detroit show: Green light for Kia’s full-size SUV

Size matters: The five-metre-long Telluride concept was revealed two years ago at the 2016 Detroit motor show.

Big Kia Telluride concept set to become a reality, but Australian future unclear

Kia logo15 Jan 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in Detroit

KIA’S hulking Telluride full-size SUV has been given the green light for production but it remains unclear whether it will be built for right-hand-drive markets such as Australia.

The Telluride concept was first revealed two years ago at the 2016 Detroit motor show and a production version would sit above the current largest member of Kia’s SUV family, the Sorento.

Kia Motors president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer confirmed to Australian journalists at the Detroit motor show today that the Korean car-maker was developing a production version of the Telluride, simply stating: “Yeah, we are working on that car, actually.”

When asked if it was likely that the production-ready Telluride would be produced in right-hand drive, Mr Schreyer said he was “not aware”.

It is also unclear when the roadgoing version will be revealed, when production will kick off and where it will be built.

Kia Motors Europe chief designer Gregory Guillaume said the production version of the SUV would not be offered in all markets the company operates – but should extend beyond the US.

“In Europe it doesn’t make that much sense,” he said. “It is a more difficult segment for us. We are pretty good with Sorento with large SUV in Europe.”

However, Mr Guillaume denied the Telluride would be restricted to the North American market, as is the case with Subaru’s upcoming seven-seat Ascent large SUV.

“I could imagine that there are other markets that would be interested in taking it … apart from America, so there could be other markets that are interested,” he said.

“For example, the one we used to have before the Mohave (large SUV), it was pretty popular in Russia and those countries.”

Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith told Australian journalists that if right-hook production is confirmed, the local arm would study the case for its introduction to this market.

“If it is developed in right-hand drive, we would look at it very seriously,” he said.

“I think that if your portfolio of SUVs is empowered at the top end and empowered at the bottom end, it is going to be better for the brand and you give yourself more opportunity to sell more cars.

“The answer to the question is, if it is developed in right-hand drive and if it is available to Australian market, we would look at it really seriously.”

The seven-seat Sorento is the largest SUV in Kia’s arsenal in Australia, measuring 4780mm long, 1685mm high and 1890mm wide.

The Telluride concept was based on a modified version of the Sorento platform and measured 5001mm from nose to tail, 1800mm from roof to road and 2009mm across its considerable flanks.

It used a plug-in hybrid powertrain combining Kia’s 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with a 97kW electric motor for a total output of 298kW, with power sent to all four wheels and combined-cycle fuel consumption quoted at 7.8 litres per 100km.

The Telluride concept also had an unusual 2/2/3 seating layout and doors opening to 90 degrees for easier entry and exit, while the cabin was fitted with ‘Smart Sensors’ for monitoring occupants’ vital health information, which could be displayed on screens mounted in each door.

While in the US it would go up against bigger large SUVs such as the Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition, it would have few rivals in Australia as an upper-large soft-roader.

Other upper-large SUVs include the harder-core Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser.

Kia Design Centre America chief designer Tom Kearns, who oversaw the Telluride program, said at the time of the concept’s release that it “makes an aesthetic statement for the Kia brand as a bold, all-new luxury SUV with an abundance of advanced technology, focusing particular attention on the experience and comfort of second-row occupants”.

“Longer, wider and taller than the recently redesigned Sorento CUV, Telluride allows us to envision what a full-size seven-passenger SUV from Kia could look like,” he said.

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