This doesn’t look like a production model

Kia finally pulled the covers off of the Telluride, giving us our first look at the automaker’s full-sized SUV. The debut took place at fashion designer Brandon Maxwell’s event during New York Fashion Week. In keeping with Maxwell’s Texas-themed Spring Summer 2019 collection, the Telluride was dressed up in rough, off-road specification, complete with custom bumpers, skid plates, and an aluminum and wood roof rack.

The Kia Telluride Debuts Looking More Like a Concept Than a Production Model
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It’s not often that you see a production model make its debut by wearing a lot of extra equipment. One look at the Kia Telluride that showed up at Brandon Maxwell’s fashion show in New York and you’d think that it was a dedicated go-anywhere off-roader. While it can fulfill that role in some respects, the Telluride is, first and foremost, a full-sized, three-row, mainstream SUV.

But let’s not rain on Kia’s parade, either. The Korean automaker chose a unique event to unveil a one-of-a-kind version of the Telluride that embraces the spirit of the Wild West. It wears a deep green body color that’s similar to the one used in the concept version when it was unveiled at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

The muscular SUV also received a number of functional components that were added to showcase its go-anywhere functionality.

Custom bumpers and skid plates were installed. There’s a pair of rally spotlights on the SUV’s massive front grille. Even the roof was fitted with a customized aluminum and wood roof rack with leather straps. Speaking of leather, the SUV’s door handles and side mirrors are also covered in the material. There’s nothing “normal” or “standard” about the Telluride that was unveiled at Brandon Maxwell’s fashion show. It even has a snorkel on the front-passenger side, and it sits on a set of 20-inch wheels wrapped in Burly 265/50R-20 off-road tires.

The bespoke additions continue in the interior where the one-off Telluride is covered in natural wood trims and saddle-inspired double-stitched leather. There are more leather details on the dashboard, door panels, and grab handles. Even the cargo area is swimming in metal and leather trim.

The Kia Telluride Debuts Looking More Like a Concept Than a Production Model
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It’s incredible to think that Kia would use this approach to debut the production version of the Telluride. The SUV’s actual public debut will take place at the 2019 North American International Auto Show, but it’s hard to imagine being anymore surprised when this one-off creation is already around. Perhaps this is Kia’s way of creating an apt synergy between the customization potential of the Telluride with the spring collection of Brandon Maxwell’s fashion label. If that is the case, consider the plan a resounding success.

Kia’s plans for this one-off Telluride are unclear, but don’t be surprised if it ends up in an auction house in the near future.

Given the way it looks and all the extra content it has, there’s no other place it could end up in. Wherever it goes, this one-off Telluride is already one for the books. You don’t even see an automaker take this approach when its debuting a model as important as the Telluride, but it did. And here we are, talking about it like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Further Reading

2019 Kia Telluride Spyshots Exterior
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Kia Telluride.

2016 Kia Telluride Concept Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Kia Telluride Concept.

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IRVINE, Calif., September 8, 2018 – Breaking new ground, a bespoke version of Kia Motors America’s largest and most refined SUV – the all-new 2020 Telluride – made its first public appearance today at 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.

“Telluride summits Kia’s SUV lineup and forged a surprising new path with its runway debut at New York Fashion Week,” said Saad Chehab, vice president of marketing communications, Kia Motors America. “Only a brand as forward-thinking as Kia could collaborate with Brandon Maxwell to launch the Telluride ahead of its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in January.”

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.

“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.”

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.

About Kia Motors America

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Kia Motors America continues to top quality surveys and is recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands and 50 Best Global Green Brands by Interbrand. Kia serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and offers a complete range of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 800 dealers in the U.S., including cars and SUVs proudly built in West Point, Georgia.*

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