New vehicle announcements always come with fanfare, and this one was no different. Plans for Kia’s new pickup were revealed to the international auto press this week. The announcement was no surprise given the current car-buying climate. Motor Trend helped with the research.
“Cars are so yesterday.” That’s the consensus among new-vehicle buyers over the last 10-20 years. Car and Driver magazine, when asked what most surprised them about the tastes of the American driver said this:
“We are most surprised by the willingness of the public to drive pickups as their everyday mode of transportation. A pickup doesn’t handle well, doesn’t get good gas mileage, isn’t a performance vehicle, and isn’t as comfortable as a sedan. Yet, buyers flock to the showroom to take one home.”
That was in the year 2000. You know what has transpired since.
Since then, one major carmaker turned its back on the manufacture of sedans and coupes, almost entirely, and others are following suit. The rush away from traditional cars and towards pickups makes it surprising that Kia is yet to dip a toe into the pickup market. That’s all going to change, and soon.
Since the advent of the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept pickup, Gildshire has wondered whether Kia will also enter the segment. Now, with the Hyundai’s development fully underway, it was past time for the Korean automaker to come clean. This week, it did. Kia Australia’s COO Damien Meredith has confirmed that Kia will soon have its own pickup. Additionally, Meredith revealed the truck could arrive in Europe between 2022-2023. That’s interesting timing because the Hyundai Santa Cruz will debut at nearly the same time. Mr. Meredith had this to say.
“We’re talking about a dual cab, a single cab-what we’ve requested is the full gambit for the ute, and that (includes) a dual cab with diesel and petrol options.”
Kia’s Australian executives’ confidence is high that the new truck will do well in their market. Meredith himself thinks Kia can take 8-10 percent of the new vehicle market share down there.
If and when the Kia pickup comes to the U.S. market, it will likely offer only gas engines, as diesel engines are out of style here in the States. The powertrain will be shared with the Hyundai Santa Cruz; however, the engine and transmission in the Kia line of trucks will differ from those in the Santa Cruz. In fact, we believe Kia’s new family of Smartstream powertrains will probably find its way into the pickups.
However, even though it will share foundations and general chassis configuration with the Hyundai Santa Cruz, Kia’s new pickup will be closer to a compact in size. Think more first-gen Ford Ranger and Subaru Baja rather than Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Colorado.
Kia burst on to the scene since Car and Driver expressed its surprise that the car-buying public wanted to drive pickups, even when no ranch land was present. There is no reason to believe that they will be anything but wildly successful in the pickup market. After all, they have made serious inroads when it comes to cars. Gildshire will watch for Kia’s new pickup as developments unfold.