SUVs

Kia shows technology-packed Telluride concept at Detroit auto show

This full-size SUV relaxes passengers with therapeutic interior lighting.

Bruce Benedict
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Kia's Telluride features a more upright, old-school SUV shape.

Kia

Here's something a little different: an SUV that actually looks like an SUV. Kia introduced the Telluride concept at the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit wearing a more traditional truck-like shape. This is in stark contrast to most current SUVs hitting the market adopting rounder and more crossover-like appearances.

The boxier shape wears a large version of Kia's tiger nose grille flanked by recessed quad-LED headlights with a polished-metal skid plate below. It rides on large 22-inch five-spoke wheels. Accessing the rear seats is made easier through rear-hinged back doors that can swing open 90 degrees. The overall look signals a possible new design direction that could potentially find its way onto a future large SUV, says Kia.

The Telluride concept is built on a modified Sorento platform that's been stretched by 11.9 inches. In all, it's 4.4 inches taller, 4.7 inches wider and 9.5 inches longer than the Sorento. The fact that the foundation begins life on an existing platform signals that a production version of the Telluride isn't just a pipe dream.

Smart sensors embedded in the seats can monitor passenger vitals.

Kia

You'll find the most interesting features inside of the Telluride with a variety of "in-cabin health-and-wellness technology." The four captain's chairs making up the first and second rows feature embedded smart sensors that can read a passenger's vital information, and display them on screens in the door panels. If occupants are groggy or suffering from jetlag, the smart sensors will activate a light-emitted rejuvenation system mounted above for a therapeutic light treatment to perk people up. I wouldn't mind watching a nice light show to recharge my batteries after a long day in the office or just lounging in the reclining middle seats.

The infotainment system is controlled by a swipe command interface integrated into the second-row center console allowing those in back to select music to play over the seven-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. There's also a set of Harman Kardon headphones that can charge wirelessly when stored in the center console, while smart phones can also wirelessly charge in a compartment in the center stack up front.

Powering the Telluride is a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that combines a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor to deliver a net output of 400 horsepower. Kia says the gas engine is responsible for 270 horsepower, while the motor brings 130 horsepower to the party. Power goes to all four wheels, with Kia expecting more than 30 mpg from the drivetrain on the highway.

Kia says the Telluride is just conceptual at this point, but with enough interest could make it into production, to slot above the mid-size Sorento in the Korean automaker's SUV lineup.