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Kia says it channeled the boxy 'purity of old-school SUVs' like Bronco and Blazer
Given consumers' ravenous appetite for them, it's little surprise that Kia is introducing a larger, more upmarket SUV in the Telluride as the newest entry in its lineup. But the automaker turned to classic SUVs of yesteryear as influences for the intentionally boxy and very American design that it hopes will translate with consumers.
Dubbed a midsize by Kia, the Telluride will slot above the entry-level, compact Sorento as the flagship of the Korean automaker's utility-vehicle lineup. Michael Cole, Kia's North America chief operating officer, said the midsize segment is forecast to grow from 1.6 million units sold in the U.S. in 2018 to 1.8 million in five years. "This was somewhere we needed to be," he said.
It's also the first Kia designed specifically for the U.S. market, with its off-road features like on-demand electronic all-wheel drive transferring torque between the front and rear wheels and its strong, stiff body, further emphasized by its unveiling in Detroit on a landscaped "torque track" assembled in surplus space on the Cobo show floor. It'll also be built at Kia's plant in West Point, Ga. "It's very much a U.S.-targeted vehicle," Cole said. "We will have some export. But the message is, made in America, made for America, it's a U.S.-centric car."
Designers at Kia's design center in Irvine, Calif. "wanted to get back to a traditional SUV styling," Chief Designer Tom Kearns said. "So many EVs and SUVs these days are trying to look sporty and more car-like, more sedan-like. We didn't want to go with that approach."
Kearns said his design team members referenced old-school SUVs like the Ford Bronco, old Land Rovers and the original Chevrolet Blazer when creating the Telluride, Kia's largest SUV yet.
"It's not retro, but we like the genuine feel and look, the purity of old-school SUVs with the long hoods, little bit more upright windshield, not a lot of glass angles, tumblehome a little more upright, just feels more purposeful and genuine to us," he said. Read more...