Having expressed interest back in January of introducing a body-on-frame SUV along the lines of the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest, Isuzu MU-X and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Kia has now reportedly set its sights on introducing a rival to the incoming Toyota Land Cruiser 300.
According to Australia's motoring.com.au, the project, of which very little is known at present, will result in the yet-as-unnamed model riding on a ladder-frame chassis set to be provided by the marque's first pick-up, and allegedly equipped with not only a locking differential but also a low-range transfer case.
"Our desire, if we were to bring in an upper-large SUV, would be a ladder-frame execution. The Australian market, the way they look at upper large SUVs are looking into Land Cruiser or Prado territory and a ladder-frame SUV has specific capabilities, in off-road ability and towing capacity, that your monocoques just aren't designed to deliver," the South Korean automaker's Australian Product Planning Head, Roland Rivero, was quoted as saying.
"If you did want to penetrate that particular segment, you'd have to have an offering closer to a ladder frame vehicle. Or if not, if it was alongside a large SUV, in that it was say built off a ute platform, they could achieve a similar result. So it'd be a nice to have, if we had a ladder-frame SUV".
Despite the existence of the unibody Telluride at the top of Kia's SUV line-up, Rivero stated that it, unlike sister brand Hyundai's Palisade, won't be offered with right-hand-drive as "there's no capacity to add another factory line" to the West Point Plant to Georgia to accommodate right hooking markets.
"Telluride is off the cards in this current generation for right-hand drive. It's doing extremely well in the USA and Canada, but unfortunately for us, we can't get it in right-hand drive. Are we missing out on Telluride? I think any market that doesn't have Telluride would feel like they're missing out".
Rivero's denouncing of the Telluride comes after Kia South Africa CEO, Gary Scott, told The Citizen in February that while a right-hand-drive Telluride "would be a great test for us of local consumers' appetite for the brand at that price point, the retooling for right-hand-drive won't be that substantial".
If approved for production though, the body-on-frame offering could well be geared for right-hand-drive markets and therefore South Africa, with speculation being it could utilise the 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel engine from Hyundai's upscale Genesis division that produces 205kW/588Nm in the GV80. Given the green light, expect it to only arrive in 2023, around the same time or a year after the pick-up's unveiling.
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