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Kia Cross GT Concept Signals Move to Build a Bigger Crossover

2/11/2013
According to Kia, the Cross GT Concept the company introduced at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show "takes Kia in a bold new direction that hints at the future of the brand's premium aesthetic in a larger package." Kia is a design-driven company now, as evidenced by a string of products applauded as much for their styling as their sensibility, and though the Cross GT Concept is designed to seat four people, it is longer and wider than Kia's largest crossover SUV, the 7-passenger Sorento. According to Kia, "the Cross GT reveals Kia's intentions to potentially offer a larger premium CUV than the current Sorento."

Designed in California, the Kia Cross GT is based on the same vehicle architecture that provided the basis for the automaker's Kia GT Concept sedan in 2011, albeit with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system replacing the Kia GT Concept's rear-drive powertrain layout. The Kia Cross GT is a hybrid SUV, equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and an electric motor integrated between the two. The combined power ratings are 400 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque, and Kia claims the Cross GT can travel 20 miles on electricity alone, indicating that the large crossover SUV concept is a plug-in hybrid model.

To get a sense of how large the Kia Cross GT Concept is, consider the existing Sorento model, Kia's largest crossover SUV. The Cross GT Concept adds 15.7 inches of wheelbase, 8.4 inches of overall length, and 4.9 inches of width. The Cross GT Concept is, however, lower than a Sorento by 1.6 inches. With Fusion Copper paint, the Cross GT Concept is equipped with rear-hinged suicide doors and a clamshell tailgate design.

Kia takes an environmental approach with the Cross GT's interior materials. The leather is tanned with vegetable oil, the fabrics are 100% renewable wool felt, and the wood trim is re-harvested American walnut. Additional cabin details include four leather-wrapped bucket seats designed to appear as though they float, anchored to a center console running the length of the cabin. The Cross GT offers an in-dash touch screen that can be operated using mouse control technology designed to keep the driver's hands on the steering wheel at all times. Flat panel display screens are mounted to the front seat headrests, providing rear passengers with Internet access and entertainment options.

Is the Kia Cross GT Concept a glimpse of a future 7-passenger crossover SUV from Kia? "Our customers are looking to the Kia brand to offer relevant vehicles in the premium segments that take value to new levels of sophistication. The Cross GT is the next logical step in that evolution. And while only a concept today, it signals one possible design direction we may explore for the future," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications, Kia Motors America.

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