Trucks & SUVs

Report: Kia Gunning For Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs Again

It looks like Kia is gunning for Toyota Land Cruiser territory. Not satisfied with the Telluride as its top SUV it is setting its sights on something bigger. Kia has a good rep for building great SUVs, from the Sorento and Sportage to the class-leading Telluride. What Kia thinks it is lacking is a body-on-frame SUV

It wants an SUV with higher towing capacity and off-road capabilities that the Land Cruiser possesses. It is sold in the US as the Lexus LX. What will it offer that the Telluride doesn’t?

After a ladder frame at a bare minimum, it would need three things

2018 Kia Mojave | Kia

After a ladder frame at a bare minimum, it would need three things. First, it will need to have a lot of ground clearance. Locking differentials are also a must. And finally, a transmission set up for crawling. Kia is launching a compact pickup with a separate frame to take on the Ford Ranger. The Kia Land Cruiser target will probably be underpinned by this same platform. 

The downside is that it is not expected to be sold in the US. It appears that Kia is looking at Australia and the Middle East exclusively. “The Australian market, the way they look at upper large SUVs are looking into LandCruiser or Prado territory. A ladder-frame SUV has specific capabilities, in off-road ability and towing capacity, that your monocoques just aren’t designed to deliver,” said Kia Australia planning boss Roland Rivero to CarSales.

RELATED: Why You Should Stop Ignoring Kia SUVs

“It would be nice to have if we had a ladder-frame SUV”

2009 Kia Borrego | KIA

“If you did want to penetrate that particular segment, you’d have to have an offering closer to a ladder frame vehicle. Or if not, if it was alongside a large SUV, in that it was built off a ute platform, they could achieve a similar result. So it would be nice to have if we had a ladder-frame SUV,” he said.

Kia does have a body-on-frame SUV and it is called Mojave in other parts of the world. In the US it was called Borrego. It was only available here in 2009. At the time sales were poor and facing competition from Mercedes and Land Rover Kia quietly stopped US sales after 2009. It is still available in Korea. The Borrego was V8-powered with a ZF transmission and 4×4 capabilities. 

If Kia proceeds the SUV would be powered by a new inline-six turbo diesel

2018 Kia Mojave | Kia

If Kia proceeds with this plan the SUV would be powered by a new inline-six-cylinder turbo diesel. It is currently available in the Genesis GV80 and other Hyundai models but not in the US. It would be released in 2023. So, if Kia is planning for this segment and release date it is developing it as you read this. 

There is a whole new group of Kia and Hyundai enthusiasts as the two Korean sister companies continue to develop class-leading models. And that is good because Land Cruiser fans tend to only be interested in continuing with Land Cruisers. It seems like it would be a tall mountain to climb stealing Land Cruiser folks into the Kia fold. But with these new fans, a Land Cruiser-like offering could give the entire segment a run for its money if the product were to excel like in other categories.