It turns out, this isn't a high priority for Kia.
The 2021 Kia Telluride is a smashing success, proving that the Korean automaker can break into new segments with a class-leading product. Though the Telluride excels as three-row family hauler, its unibody construction leaves a lot to be desired for off-road enthusiasts. Speaking to the Australian media, Kia has hinted at building a more rugged body-on-frame vehicle to rival the Toyota Land Cruiser and a proper pickup truck, not just a rebadged Hyundai Santa Cruz.
The viability for either of these projects in the United States was always dubious at best, but a recent interview with CarsGuide may pour cold water on either model happening at all. "There would be a lot commonality for ute-based large SUVs," said Kia Australia General Manager of Product, Roland Rivero. "But for now, with resource and prioritizing of numerous global projects, that would be lower on the list."
"That by no means means it's a dead duck, but the priority right now with resources is where the biggest volume is at," he added. A pickup truck-based SUV with capable off-road prowess would likely prove successful in a market like Australia, but there are broader challenges to develop a vehicle like that for a global audience. Even a massive automaker like Toyota struggled to sell the Land Cruiser in the US, and decided to discontinue it after 2021. We'd love to see Kia build a Bronco/Wrangler rival, but it seems like such a model is still years away.
As for Kia's long-rumored pickup truck, it looks to be lower on the priority list as well. "We still haven't got a clear direction on what's going to happen with LCV (light commercial vehicle), that's the honest truth," said Kia Australia COO, Damien Meredith. "We would hope that in the next couple of years that something does occur with LCV for our brand, not just for Australia but globally."