South Korean car giant Kia will finally join the booming double-cab ute segment with an all-new model coming to Australian showrooms in 2025.
The top-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes will soon have a new challenger in Australia.
Kia has today told dealers in a confidential briefing it will have a double-cab ute in Australian showrooms in 2025.
Limited information was shared with dealers during the biggest meeting of the year – held in Sydney – however they were advised in general terms what customers can expect.
Kia dealers in Australia were told to expect a “genuine and serious rival” to the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, which have been the top-two selling vehicles in Australia for the past six years in row.
The as-yet unnamed Kia ute will likely supercharge the brand’s sales in Australia after it overtook its South Korean sibling Hyundai for the first time locally last year – and continues to lead its in-house competitor so far this year.
Dealers were told Australia has been at the centre of the development of the Kia ute, and the project has been underway since 2020.
For now it remains unclear whether Hyundai will adopt a version of this vehicle – given the companies share many models but with different bodywork – or go in its own direction.
As previously reported by Drive, while Kia intends to tackle the heavy-duty diesel-powered double-cab ute market in Australia – one of the fastest-growing segments locally – Hyundai dealers have been advised the company is exploring the possibility of the Santa Cruz light-duty “lifestyle” pick-up.
Kia dealers were told the model code of the company’s new ute is ‘TK’, but for now the name it will wear in showrooms is yet to be announced.
According to information shared with dealers at the conference, the new Kia pick-up will have the same towing and carrying capacity as the top-selling utes locally. That means a maximum tow rating of up to 3500kg, and a maximum payload of close to 1000kg.
It is unclear which engines will power the new model, however dealers were told the vehicle will use diesel, not petrol propulsion.
This could mean the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel in the current Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe family SUVs, or a version of the 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel in the Genesis GV80 luxury SUV.
An electric version may follow, given Kia head office has previously confirmed it is developing two electric pick-ups, although they may be different sizes to the one Australia is getting.
Bucking the industry trend of forming partnerships – such as the jointly-developed Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50, and Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok – it appears Kia has elected to go it alone.
This means it has done more exhaustive testing on this vehicle than any other that precedes it in the Kia range; and it is understood to have bought a fleet of Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger vehicles to use as benchmarks throughout the engineering program.
Even though the top-secret Kia ute has been in development for three and a half years, few spy photos have emerged.
The first glimpse of the new Kia pick-up – which will also debut a new heavy-duty ladder-frame chassis for the company – appeared on South Korean social-media websites in November 2022.
Spy photos have shown camouflaged prototypes which appear to borrow design cues from from the Kia Mohave SUV in South Korea.
However these may be early test “mules” built using existing parts to cover the underpinnings of the new model, and therefore we are yet to see any clues about the final design.
A number of Kia dealers canvassed by Drive said a double-cab ute is “long overdue”, and noted that the brand is ready to take the next step in its growth in Australia.
While a number of dealers shared their excitement about the confidential Kia ute, for now the company remains tight-lipped about the project.
However, Kia has acknowledged it will enter the pick-up market at some point in the next few years.
“Kia is currently developing a future pickup truck model that will be highly capable and fit for purpose. Additional details will be confirmed in due course.”