Kia Telluride SUV concept gets production green light

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Two years after breaking cover at the Detroit Auto Show, Kia’s Telluride concept will soon see the assembly line, according to a recent report.

WardsAuto spoke to Orth Hedrick of Kia Motors America, who said the South Korean automaker is soon ready to make an announcement on official production of the seven-passenger SUV.

Australian media the other week found out the Telluride got the green light for production from Peter Schreyer, Kia’s global design chief, meaning the Telluride could debut for the 2019 or 2020 model year, alongside Hyundai’s new Santa Fe replacement.

Initially breaking cover at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, the Kia Telluride gives Sorento buyers some additional room for stuff beyond the third row. When speaking with WardsAuto, Hedrick said that the aging Sorento might not be meeting the needs of older families.

“We see a growing need in our portfolio with buyers who are maybe in the second or third generation of Sorento and they need maybe a little more space,” he said. While the Sorento has three rows of seating available, sparse cargo room limits utility, so buyers with older teens and all their sports gear might be looking to upgrade.


Featuring squared off edges, and a Sorento-inspired front grille, the sporty Telluride concept borrows heavily from the design of the new 2018 Stinger sedan. As Kia shifts upmarket, its revamped products show more pseudo-luxury design elements with sporty flair to compete against the likes of Acura, Infiniti and Alfa Romeo, without stepping on Genesis’s toes. The Telluride looks slated to compete with the Toyota Land Cruiser and Infiniti QX80 in terms of size and refinements.

With both the Sportage and Sorento aging quickly, a brand new seven-passenger SUV could give Kia the sales boost it needs to stay competitive in the crossover-crazy American market.

Since light truck and crossover sales continuing to surge in the US, Hyundai and Kia have felt the pressure, with sales dropping nearly 7 percent for the Sorento and over 10 percent for the Sportage last year. A Kia spokesperson said competition and meager inventory have signaled to the Korean automaker duo that the time is nearing for some significant updates.

The Telluride isn’t Hyundai/Kia’s first venture into the land of larger utilities. Ten years ago, Kia’s body-on-frame Borrego and Hyundai’s unibody Veracruz gave buyers three rows of comfort with room to haul cargo in the trunk. After the Borrego was discontinued in 2010, the then-redesigned, second-generation Sorento crossover helped fill the void.

As we await word on the Telluride’s official production release date, Kia said it will announce a redesigned 5-door version of the Forte compact car and debut a redesigned K900 luxury sedan, the latter of which will be shown off at the New York Auto Show at the end of March.

NEW YORK DAILY TIMES/TNS

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