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It’s been awhile since I’ve featured Kia in the virtual pages of Rock Father™ Rides, but today’s news brings a throwback to my top picks for what to see at the Chicago Auto Show back in 2016. One of the concept vehicles that I photographed and very much enjoyed was the Telluride SUV – touted at the time as an idea of what a modern, full-sized SUV from Kia might be… but one “not intended for production.” In recent weeks, however, spy photos have been traveling in the automotive circles of pre-production Telluride vehicles that were barely disguised. Now comes the semi-official debut, the first public appearance of Kia Motors America’s “largest and most refined SUV” – the all-new 2020 Telluride, and it happened during fashion designer Brandon Maxwell’s New York Fashion Week show. Created by Kia’s U.S. design studio in Irvine, California, the customized Telluride that appeared on the runway drew influence from Maxwell’s inspiration for the Spring Summer 2019 collection: Texas. This special preview comes ahead of the Telluride’s “official” debut at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

From the Official Announcement: The eight passenger Telluride production model – which will be assembled at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – will provide a new, V6-powered option that is several inches longer and wider than Kia’s award-winning, seven passenger Sorento midsize SUV.          

For Brandon Maxwell, the combination of childhood nostalgia and an exclusive preview of Kia’s largest and most refined SUV provided an opportunity to give back to the Marfa, Texas, community.

14051 2020 Telluride

“My Mom drove me to school in East Texas in a Kia Sedona, and my adoration for the brand runs deep,” said Maxwell. “When I left Marfa, Texas, where I designed my SS’19 collection, I started talking with Kia. I wanted a partner who could help fill a need in Marfa’s public school system and Kia was looking to create a unique integration for their new Telluride. It was a natural fit as Kia has a long history of philanthropic initiatives that support education. Kia is not just funding necessary technological purchases and educational programming to give the children of Marfa the quality education they deserve, but also providing a vehicle for local teachers’ use. I am honored to collaborate with Kia Motors.”

14050 2020 Telluride

The one-of-a-kind Telluride featured in the show provides a thought-provoking glimpse into the creative process that takes place when designers in separate industries collaborate. This specially tailored Telluride includes several nods to Maxwell’s Texas roots, including natural wood interior trim and saddle-inspired double-stitched leather adornments on the dash, door panels and grab handles. Similar leather details cover the outside rearview mirrors and door handles. Outside, the Telluride’s deep green paint reflects the color of the concept vehicle that debuted in Detroit two years ago. Custom front and rear bumpers, skidplates and sidestep sills exude a ranch-ready look that’s backed up with a hidden winch and a snorkel for deep-river fording. Burly 265/50R-20 off-road tires wrap around flat-black alloy wheels and the spare tire has been custom mounted to the rear hatch, which opens to a metal- and leather-trimmed cargo area. A custom wood and aluminum roof rack with a beautiful custom leather tow strap tongue provide the perfect finishing touches.

For those curious, this is what the Telluride was looking like back in 2016…

2016 Kia Telluride Concept

Oddly enough, 2016 was the last time that I drove a Kia as well, specifically the Sportage SX Turbo. You can read that feature here.

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