By Michael Kinney
NEW YORK- Out of all the companies that attended the 2022 New York International Auto Show (April 13-24), it’s hard to find one who tried to make a bigger splash than Kia. Their display included several automobiles from past lineups, the 2023 Sportage and even a futuristic concept SUV.
Yet, there were two automobiles that Kia officials were focused on presenting to the public as they unveiled the 2023 Telluride and the 2023 Niro.
“These two products are what I hope customers come to the show to take a look at,” said Kia Chief Designer Tom Kearns.
For long-time Kia customers, the Telluride is a familiar name. From the moment the three-row eight-passenger SUV first hit the market three years ago, it became one of the company’s most popular vehicles. More than 93,000 units were sold in 2021.
With large passenger room, the Telluride arrives with two all-new trim levels for 2023: X-Line and X-Pro. They are made specifically for owners who want a more rugged personality with features and capabilities that allow the Telluride to go almost anywhere off-road.
Both all-wheel-drive models offer a roster of exclusive upgrades and enhancements over other Telluride trims X-Line model replaces the former Telluride Nightfall Edition.
When designing the 2023 Telluride, Kearns and his design crew didn’t want to make any drastic overhauls.
“With the Telluride, we’re just tweaking what customers already love about it,” Kearns said. “We can’t keep these in stock. So we just tweaked a few things.”
Those slight changes include upgrading the technology that was already part of the Telluride. Which includes a standard WiFi Hotspot and optional digital key supporting compatible iPhone, Apple Watch, and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
The X-Line’s key elements are a 0.4-inch-higher ride height, a new Tow mode, roof rails, a redesigned grille, and trim-specific 20-inch wheels.
The X-Pro comes with a 110-volt outlet in the cargo area, swaps the 20-inch wheel for 18-inches with all-terrain tires, and has an increased tow rating of 5500 pounds
Customers will have a choice of four drive modes – Smart, Eco, Sport and Comfort. Each uses different settings for powertrain, drivetrain, and steering effort mapping to provide the desired driving experience.
Kearns was especially proud of the job his team did on the exterior design.
“You notice the grille, the lighting and the wheels,” Kearns said. “We’ve got a couple of new packages with the X-Line and X-Pro. And the interior, the display. It’s just kind of a tweaked version of the telluride.”
The redesigned Telluride is expected to go on sale near the end of the third quarter.
On the other end of the spectrum for Kia is the Niro, which is the company expanding its brand into the EV market.
While its variety of color schemes and design will undoubtedly be the first elements that customers notice about the Niro or its street name, the Aero Blade. But Kia officials want to make sure and point out the improving technology that is making their EVs even more efficient.
“Kia’s electrified vehicle momentum continues with the launch of the all-new second-generation Niro, which offers more refinement, versatility, connectivity, and technology than ever,” said Kia America COO Steven Center. “The 2023 Niro was designed for today’s needs and sustainable future mobility.”
Whatever stage of going electric customers find themselves, the Niro has them covered. The new lineup includes all-electric, plug-in hybrid and traditional hybrid variants.
The Niro EV is expected to have a target range of 253 per charge. The Niro Hybrid is expected to achieve 53 mpg combined and an estimated driving range of 588 miles.
According to Kearns, its design is a key reason why the Niro will function well on the roads. Air is channeled through an opening and then exits out the back via a similarly sized opening.
The strakes on the door molding also help direct the air where Kia wants it to go through the Aero Blade.
“The Niro is pretty much all new. Especially from the exterior. It’s called the Aero blade. It’s a two-tone feature that also serves to aid in aerodynamics,” Kearns said. “But it also just kind of gives it a cool look. It offers the customer the ability to personalize it with different colors.”
Kearns knows how important the EV market is going to be for Kia now and going forward. He believes they have the lineup that can challenge any other company out there.
“EVs are huge,” Kearns said. “We’ve also got our dedicated EV, the EV6. For customers wanting to look at an all luxury vehicle, dedicated electric, solely, 100 percent, come check out the EV6.”
The Niro’s are expected to go on sale this summer. Pricing has not been announced yet.
Story & Photos: Michael Kinney Media
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