KIA Insider

Kia plotting Toyota Prado rival





Kia Australia has just released the all-new Seltos and also has both a new Sorento and an all-new baby SUV on the way this year – as well as a new Sportage and the eNiro EV due next year.

But its chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, says that’s still not enough SUVs for Australia.

“We need more. We need probably one or two bigger ones, to be quite honest. That would help us dramatically,” Meredith told local journalists during a Q&A session coinciding with the Australian Open tennis tournament, sponsored by Kia.

Kia plans for the larger new Sportage to move upmarket and the all-new Stonic to slot in underneath it, as well as next year’s new Sorento mid-sizer and the just-launched Kia Seltos small SUV.

That won’t be the full extent of the SUV line-up for Kia Australia, however.

“There’s definitely room above Sorento, or even beside the Sorento, in a ladder-frame form,” said Kia Australia product general manager, Roland Rivero.

Kia has an SUV that is larger than Sorento, but the American-built Telluride (pictured here) is manufactured in left-hand drive form only, and it’s based on a monocoque platform and powered only by a 3.8-litre petrol V6.

However, that could change now that the similarly US-only Hyundai Palisade, which is also available with 3.5-litre petrol V6 and 2.2-litre diesel power, has been al but confirmed for Australia as soon as late this year.

Meredith has previously said he would prefer a large SUV based on a full chassis, which would allow the towing capacity and potentially the off-road capability to challenge Toyota Prado on local turf.

It just so happens Hyundai Motor Company is developing just such a vehicle and it could be based on the same ladder frame as the dual-cab 4×4 utes that both Hyundai and Kia are hoping to deliver as early as 2021.

And if Hyundai and Kia are indeed planning SUV versions of their pick-up – as the Everest is to the Ford Ranger – they might conceivably offer straight-six turbo-diesel power too.

Most importantly, such a vehicle would have that all-important ladder chassis and the ‘tough-road’ design that has been missing in Kia SUVs since the Sorento migrated to unibody design.

Unfortunately, Kia Australia is keeping totally schtumm on the subject of a ute for the local product range.

“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.”