Those off-road components won't just be for show.
Kia made a bold statement at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show with the debut of its Telluride SUV. The Telluride was teased as a concept car prior to its unveiling and we think the production car stays true to the rugged concept looks. We had a chance to sit down with the car's chief designer, Tom Kearns, about how the production Telluride took shape and what the future holds for it.
"We developed the theme of the Telluride basically from when we did the concept vehicle, which was three years ago today at the Detroit Auto Show," said Kearns. The Telluride shares a platform with the Hyundai Palisade, which was revealed a few months ago in Los Angeles, though the Telluride has a design all its own.
"We had no idea what Hyundai was doing with their design. We just did what we thought was right for our brand."
The end result, in our opinion, is a more rugged and aggressive looking SUV whereas the Palisade looks more soft and regal. Kia has even been showing off Telluride models with off-road kits such as bull bars, fender flares, lights, snorkels, and lift kits. Here at the Detroit Auto Show, Kia is offering a ride along in these kitted out Tellurides, as Jeep usually does with the Wrangler, and there may be a good reason why.
According to Kearns, these off-road Telluride models aren't just for show. "These are not production accessories yet, just one-off vehicles that were developed for the SEMA show," said Kearns. "Some of these things we could offer in the future. Maybe the snorkel would be a bit extreme, but an aftermarket company could do it."
Kearns couldn't tell us whether or not Kia has already given out the Telluride to aftermarket companies to develop performance parts but we got a strong impression that these parts could be in development. In fact, when speaking about a special off-road version of the Telluride Kearns said, "I know Toyota has some trim levels on their SUVs - the TRDs - and I think maybe in the future that could be a possibility. I would love to see it." Although Kia "can't commit to that yet," we've seen Toyota succeed with its TRD trucks and SUVs, so we think Kia would be smart to enter this space.