But will it be sold in the US?
You should never underestimate Kia. The Korean automaker proved it can build a sports sedan that can make BMW and Audi take notice with the Stinger, the Soul is one of our favorite small SUVs, and the new Telluride is one of the best full-size SUVs in its class. One segment Kia hasn't tackled yet, however, is the truck segment. Kia has previously said it was considering building a pickup truck to take on the Ford Ranger, but a final decision hadn't been made. However, according to a report by CarGuide, the project has now been given the green light.
Kia Australia's Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith, confirmed that "work has begun" on Kia's new pickup, which is expected to debut in Australia in 2022 or 2023. A Hyundai variant will also launch at a similar time and will likely share the same platform.
Meredith emphasized that Kia's first pickup will not be a "lifestyle vehicle" like the Hyundai Santa Cruz, but a rugged off-roader. "We're talking about a dual-cab, a single-cab - what we've requested is the full gambit for the ute, and that (includes) a dual-cab with diesel and petrol (options)."
What isn't clear yet, however, is whether Kia is planning to launch its first pickup in the US. If it does, it likely won't be offered with a single-cab or diesel option. Kia may also struggle to stand out in the crowded mid-size pickup segment, however, since it will have to compete with established models like the Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, and Honda Ridgeline. Right now, Kia is prioritizing SUVs and crossovers, but a US-bound pickup is looking increasingly likely now that the Australian model has been confirmed.
Hyundai, on the other hand, is expected to unveil a production version of the Santa Cruz concept within the next two years.