With the success of the Telluride, it could happen.
The 2020 Kia Telluride is impressive beyond words but a hardcore off-roader, it is not. Kia has marketed the Telluride a "rugged" SUV with some offroad capability but we wouldn't recommend tackling the Rubicon trial in one. From the moment the Telluride was revealed, Kia has hinted at a more offroad oriented version with greater performance than the current model but such an addition has yet to be introduced.
But what if instead of making the Telluride more capable, Kia introduced a new SUV built specifically for offroad use? Speaking with Motoring, Kia's chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, talked about the possibility of an even larger SUV for the Australian market based on a more rugged platform.
"We need more [SUVs]. We need probably one or two bigger ones, to be quite honest. That would help us dramatically," Meredith said during a Q&A session. The Telluride is not currently offered in Australia's right-hand-drive market despite the massive success the model has seen here in the United States. Australia is rumored to get the mechanically-identical Hyundai Palisade, so it may only be a matter of time before the Telluride makes its way down under.
Regardless of the Telluride's availability, Kia's Australian division is already thinking outside of the box in terms of future models. "There's definitely room above Sorento, or even beside the Sorento, in a ladder-frame form," said Kia Australia product general manager, Roland Rivero. Such a vehicle from Kia could go toe-to-toe with the rugged Toyota Prado (a stripped-down version of the Lexus GX).
It just so happens that Kia's sister company Hyundai is developing a pickup truck for the Australian market, which could be converted into an SUV. Kia has proven it can dominate the three-row crossover segment with the Telluride and now we'd love to see the Korean automaker focus on challenging the likes of the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner.
Of course, Kia has no official comment on such a model. "KMAu has no comment to make on that issue whatsoever," said company spokesman Kevin Hepworth. "As soon as anything is available, we'll let you guys know, for sure, but there is no need to comment on something that doesn't exist at this stage."