Kia teases an adventurous future for the full-size Telluride SUV
Typically when an automaker reveals an all-new model, it's at an auto show or dedicated event. Not so with the Kia Telluride. Instead, Kia showed the first look at the production eight-seat full-size SUV at this week's New York Fashion Week. And if there's any truth hiding within the show jewelry of the dressed-up Telluride, Kia imagines its large SUV getting down and dirty on off-road adventure.
Kia originally debuted the Telluride Concept at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, and it confirmed the production version in conversations with the press at this year's Detroit show. It plans a proper premiere at NAIAS 2019 but provides a nice, thorough first look with this week's Fashion Week show car.
The production Telluride loses some of the concept's raw power and boldness, but it still looks the part of a rugged full-size SUV. Its headlights have been stretched vertically and its tiger-nose grille toned down a bit, but the upright front-end still leaves a strong first impression. The taillights have been widened but still lend a tall, sleek rear lighting signature behind the muscular rear arches. The green paint ties into the color of the original concept.
Kia has managed to maintain much of the concept's ruggedness while refining it into a production-ready SUV, and it's only added more ruggedness in collaboration with fashion designer Brandon Maxwell. Kia's US design studio has tacked on some aftermarket components and leather accents to make the Telluride blend naturally into Maxwell's Texas-inspired runway collection.
The Telluride show car evokes the spirit of Texas with both functional and cosmetic upgrades. Custom front and rear bumpers add some serious all-terrain robustness, furthered by the skid plates, 265/50R-20 off-road tires and hidden winch. The loaded wood, aluminum and leather roof rack with accompanying ladder, the snorkel and the hatch-mounted spare wheel give the utility vehicle a sense of boundless open-road (and off-road) adventure.
Kia blends the interior and exterior together with saddle-inspired leather trim, which finds use not only inside on the dashboard, door panels and grab handles, but also outside on the side-view mirrors and door handles. The interior also includes wood accents and a metal- and leather-trimmed load area in back.
If you're wondering why Kia chose NY Fashion Week for the first showing of an important new product like the Telluride, you're definitely not alone. But Maxwell helps explain:
"My Mom drove me to school in East Texas in a Kia Sedona, and my adoration for the brand runs deep. When I left Marfa, Texas, where I designed my SS'19 collection, I started talking with Kia. I wanted a partner who could help fill a need in Marfa's public school system, and Kia was looking to create a unique integration for their new Telluride. It was a natural fit as Kia has a long history of philanthropic initiatives that support education."
As part of the collaboration, Kia and Maxwell are donating funds to the Marfa public school system. Kia will also donate a vehicle for use by teachers.
We'll see the standard, non-dressed up 2020 Telluride debut in a more customary setting at NAIAS 2019 in January. After that, Kia plans to get it into showrooms in the early part of 2019. The new SUV will be assembled at Kia Motors America's Georgia facility and will be several inches longer and wider than the seven-seat Sorento. Power will come from a V6 engine.
Source: Kia America