A pickup truck could one day join Kia’s lineup, we learned recently. That info came from Michael Cole, chief operating officer and executive vice president at Kia Motors America, who added that it’s not a priority right now. Even so, it got us thinking about what we’d want in a Kia-branded pickup.
Read on for five things we’d love to see on a potential Kia truck model.
We know a production version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept is well underway, and that the lifestyle pickup will likely be more on-road oriented. So to differentiate itself, Kia’s potential pickup could be more capable when the pavement ends. A higher ride height and an off-road-tuned suspension (at least as an option) on a Kia truck would help set it apart from its Hyundai sibling. Does it have to be a hardcore off-roader like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro or Chevrolet Colorado ZR2? No, but it would be nice if it could at least handle the rutted dirt road leading up to the trailhead.
Kia’s latest crossover, the Telluride, hints at what the brand’s future utility vehicles could look like. If the Telluride’s more rugged look compared to its Hyundai Palisade twin is any indication, a prospective Kia pickup could follow the same path, which should give it a tough persona. Expect a boxy truck with an upright greenhouse to give it a more conventional truck look versus the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz, which is expected to be swoopier and feature the automaker’s SUV design language.
Compact or Midsize Dimensions
Midsize truck sales are on the rise again and major automakers have flocked back to the segment to grab a piece of the action. Should Kia decide to base its pickup on the same bones as the Telluride, expect it to have a similar footprint to key models in the segment like the Honda Ridgeline, Chevrolet Colorado, and Toyota Tacoma. However, because it’s most likely going to be unibody, a Kia pickup truck may only have a single bed and cab combination, which could limit its appeal.
In the event that Kia goes the compact route and takes the underpinnings of the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz as the basis for its pickup, we could possibly get a smaller, more city-friendly pickup. Like the Subaru Bajas of yore, a compact Kia pickup could be a crew cab with a small bed, perfect for urbanites with active lifestyles.
A Reasonable Amount of Grunt
The upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz could get the new naturally aspirated 191-hp 2.5-liter I-4 and eight-speed automatic transmission from the recently revealed 2020 Sonata. That engine should be powerful enough for a compact pickup, but if you want to light its wheels on fire, you need more power. Fortunately, the Hyundai-Kia parts bin has a number of turbocharged engines in it, including a 2.0-liter unit with at least 235 hp. That engine could turn a potential Santa-Cruz-based Kia pickup into a zippy little truck.
In the event that Kia does a midsize truck instead, the Telluride’s 3.8-liter V-6 should be adequate for hauling and towing your toys. The 2.0-liter turbo-four could also work in its higher-output guise, but that could limit its payload and overall towing capacity depending on calibration.
Being a truck, Kia’s future pickup needs to offer actual utility. Whether that’s from a smartly designed compact bed that’s big enough to haul your bikes and surf boards or a midsize truck bed that you can use to do actual work naturally depends on the size of the truck, but having a bed for the sake of having a bed isn’t going to cut it. Look to the Honda Ridgeline as an example. Despite being a unibody truck, the Ridgeline placed second in our recent midsize pickup comparison, beating out the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. Sure, it rides and drives like a crossover, but it’s also surprisingly capable and has a usable bed with smart features like an in-bed trunk and trick Dual-Action tailgate.
Author: Stefan Ogbac