The 2020 Kia Telluride SUV made its debut at New York Fashion Week on Saturday, months ahead of its anticipated auto show reveal.
The eight-passenger Telluride, which will join Kia’s lineup as its largest utility vehicle, took center stage at fashion designer Brandon Maxwell’s show Saturday evening. The customized, three-row utility vehicle hit the runway sporting a Western-inspired trim with saddle-leather accents.
New York Fashion Week, a bonanza of parties, events and fashion shows traditionally held in mid-September, is an unconventional venue for a vehicle launch. But Kia Motors wants to align with fashion tastemakers and such a large-scale reveal could help the brand capture the desired attention.
The venue and the high-end trim lent designer chops and a touch of glamour to the larger, soccer-mom style SUV.
“At a fashion show, there’s this palpable sense of excitement like launching a rocket,” James Bell, a Kia spokesman, told reporters before the show.
The process is likely similar to what designers and fashion models experience when readying for a show. It takes a “ton of preparation” to make an impression in such a short window of time, Bell said.
Designed at Kia’s Irvine, Calif. studio, the Telluride on display showcased styling cues and adventure amenities inspired by Maxwell’s Texas-themed spring/summer 2019 collection.
“My mom drove me to school in East Texas in a Kia Sedona, and my adoration for the brand runs deep,” Maxwell said in a statement. “When I left Marfa, Texas, where I designed my SS’19 collection, I started talking with Kia.”
The designer’s take on the vehicle featured a deep green exterior color, off-road tires, a metal- and leather-trimmed cargo area and a custom wood and aluminum roof rack with a leather tow strap. A snorkel for deep-river fording hinted at a sense of adventure.
The specially curated model also featured natural wood interior trim and saddle-inspired, double-stitched leather detailing throughout the dash, door panels, grab handles, outside rearview mirrors and door handles.
Kia said its full-size, three-row SUV features a new V6 engine and measures several inches longer and wider than Kia’s seven-passenger Sorento mid-size SUV. The automaker hasn’t released details, but the Telluride concept shown at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show featured a 3.5-liter V6 hybrid powertrain capable of delivering 400 horsepower.
The Telluride will be assembled at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia and is expected to arrive in showrooms early next year. Kia wouldn’t say whether the Maxwell trim could be available on a production model.