Kia's Telluride Concept Merges Great Looks With New-Age Horseshit

If you’re a fan of Kia’s recent design direction (which I am) then I’d suggest just looking at the pictures here. Kia’s new Telluride full-size SUV concept looks great, and is a refreshing departure from what we’re used to seeing. Just don’t read the press release. Especially if you’ve just eaten.


The Telluride is a wonderful example of how a really promising concept car can be made into an absurd, inane caricature by just typing a few paragraphs. You know you’re off to an exciting start when you read the PR’s first line:

Glimpsing a future that is grounded in reality but not bound by the present,

I think I saw that on a Succesories™ poster. There was an eagle on it, soaring. The PR goes on, explaining the concept’s hypothetical position in the Kia lineup, letting you know it’s not actually getting built, and giving a nice little hint as to where it’s about to go off the rails:

The Telluride, a striking three-row, seven-passenger, luxury SUV concept features a modern and upright shape, muscular stance, and state-of-the-art technology to care for its occupants. Purely conceptual, the Kia Telluride is based on an existing platform and reveals the brand’s interest in potentially offering a premium SUV positioned above the current hot-selling Sorento.

Did you catch the hint? It’s the infinitive there: “to care.” This cloyingly nurturing word choice sets the Telluride up for it’s conceptual hook:

The large cabin allows the middle seats to recline nearly flat and include large fold-away footrests for sublime comfort. All four seats include a series of precise diamond-cut openings in the seatback, each embedded with Smart Sensors to capture a passenger’s vital health information. Once obtained, these vitals are displayed on the interior door panel screens, which then systematically synchronize with a Light Emitted Rejuvenation (LER) system. The LER system utilizes a massive, wing-shaped LED panel mounted beneath the oversized sunroof that displays a pattern of therapeutic light to treat desynchronosis (jetlag) and improve the passengers’ energy levels.


Oh boy. ‘Smart Sensors’ that capture your vital health information, and then send that information to a ‘Light Emitted Rejuvenation’ system? And this LER system can “improve passengers’ energy levels?”


Shit, they should have just gone all out and installed an Orgone-energy powered Aura Recalibration System (OE-ARS) and been done with it.

All this vaguely new-agey, crystals-and-crap magic sauce Kia poured over this concept is a shame, because without all that, what they have here is a really strikingly well-designed SUV.


In a landscape where most full-size SUVs resemble cyborg wildebeests, the Telluride is crisp and handsome. The blunt and unashamedly rectilinear front end feels like the best parts of ‘70s and ‘80s American truck design, and the side profile exhibits some very pleasing proportions with smart, unfussy detailing. The rear suicide doors are a welcome and useful innovation in this segment, and I even like the novel taillight treatment.


Kia’s managed to make a handsome full-size SUV that doesn’t look like a massive brute, and that’s a nontrivial achievement. They just need to ditch all the healing-force-of-light crap and focus on the great design of this thing.


I hope the design cues from the Telluride concept make it to some production vehicle. The LER system I can, you know, find an aftermarket solution if I need it.

But thanks anyway.

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