The beauty of concepts is that they allow you to do pretty much anything. Car concepts will often be introduced with insane performance numbers and designs that will either leave you gasping for more or turn away in horror. This year, Kia allowed themselves a little technological orgy in the Telluride concept introduced yesterday at the 2016 Detroit auto show.
Looks-wise, the buzzword with the Kia designers was “future”. They drew inspiration from the art of Syd Mead, known not only for his futuristic cityscapes, but also for his designs for sci-fi movies such as Tron, Aliens and Blade Runner. It also reintroduces a full-size, seven-passenger SUV to the Kia lineup, an idea that Kia tried once, to little success, in the form of the Borrego. The boxy silhouette and squarish front end look like they belong to Rolls-Royce more than Kia, but the front grille hints at the maker’s signature hourglass design. To further the concept of utility, the Telluride features 90°-opening front doors and rear hinged back doors for easy access. The cockpit is dressed in black, which puts the focus on all the technology available. The concept is meant to embody the epitome of Kia luxury.
Where the fun really lies is on the inside. Kia’s designers let loose and gave the concept a flight of creative technologies and features such as Smart Sensors, a set of vital sign detecting sensors located in the seats, Light Emitted Rejuvenation (LER), an LED panel mounted to the roof of the vehicle that emits therapeutic light to help relieve jet lag and energize the passengers. Rear passengers also receive the royal treatment with the centre console–mounted Swipe Command that allows them to select the media and play it either through the car’s seven-speaker sound system or via a set of wireless headphones.
In Kia’s dreams, the Telluride is a hybrid, V6-powered vehicle rated at 400 hp also capable of achieving a fuel economy of 7.8 L/100 km. According to Kia, however, there are no plans to bring the Telluride to production, but the automaker reminds us that they can deliver products that are usually close enough to the concept they follow. Wink wink, nudge nudge. An incursion of Kia into the realm of full-size SUVs could be an interesting play, and we’ll see if they can at least manage better success than the stillborn Borrego.