The familiar SUV trades wheels for tracks to climb ski slopes

Introduced in 2003, the Kia Sorento has been redesigned twice as of 2016, with the most recent upgrade being launched in 2014. The third-generation SUV made its formal debut at the Paris Motor Show and shares underpinnings with the Kia Sedona and Hyundai Santa Fe. The new generation brought a new, sportier design and a more upscale cabin, as well as a brand-new engine in the form of a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. In the U.S., the SUV also carried over with the familiar 2.4-liter four-pot and the 3.3-liter V-6.

At the 2016 SEMA Show, the Sorento family received a brand-new and rather unusual family member. Although just a concept car that won’t be put into production anytime soon, the Sorento Ski Gondola is exactly what its name suggest: a gondola with seating for four that can tackle the roughest terrains thanks to its heavy-duty tracks. Built by LUX Motorwerks and packed with numerous aftermarket features, the custom Sorento also employs autonomous drive and a bespoke interior.

It’s arguably one of the wildest concepts presented at the 2016 SEMA Show and proves that Kia has the ability to think out of the box and create unique vehicles.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Sorento Ski Gondola.


There are many tiny details that may go unnoticed upon a quick glance, but there’s no way you can miss the Dominator tracks that replaced the wheels. Finished in black and orange to provide a strong contrast against the Silver Metallic paint, the tracks turn the family-friendly SUV into a go-anywhere, cold-weather machine.

There's no way you can miss the Dominator tracks that replaced the wheels.

Kia also equipped the roof with a custom metal rack that provides ample storage for skis and poles, as well a LED light bar for optimum visibility at night and during snow storms. A second LED light bar was mounted in the revised bumper. The front fascia is rounded off by headlamps with black, silver, and orange accents. The profile of the SUV also sports modifications, including tiny cameras instead of side mirrors and a door handle delete.


The interior was also heavily modified, to the extent that the two rows of seats are facing each other. The cabin was designed exactly as a ski gondola and needs no driver input, as the SUV is equipped with autonomous drive. The vehicle can be controlled with a tablet placed on the center console, but there’s no steering wheel. Entering and exiting the vehicle is easier thanks to the rear doors being converted to suicide-style panels, while the cargo area offers additional space for boots, bags, and other ski-related gear.

The cabin was designed exactly as a ski gondola and needs no driver input.

The revised interior comes with custom door panels, dashboard, and center console, with almost all surfaces wrapped in black and orange leather. The remaining plastic elements also feature orange accents, while the door panels are highlighted by orange stitching. Several cameras provide the person controlling the car with a good view of what’s happening outside. Finally, a waterproof Line-X treatment protects the cabin against the ice and snow that may find its way inside.


2016 Kia Sorento Drivetrain
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Note: Standard Kia Sorento drivetrain shown here.

There’s no word as to what motivates this

shaped Gondola, but we do know that the SUV is available with three different engines, so I guess it could be any of them. The range begins with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, while the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-banger cranks out 240 horses and 260 pound-feet. Finally, the 3.3-liter V-6 brings more oomph for the Sorento, sending 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of twist to the wheels. Or in this case, the tracks. Obviously, there’s no need to talk about performance here, as this Sorento was built to climb hills and ski slopes rather than hit 60 mph as quick as possible.


2016 Kia Sorento Ski Gondola High Resolution Exterior
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The Sorento Ski Gondola has what it takes to stand out among other SEMA concepts, no matter how spectacular, simply because it takes the idea of sporty utility to new heights in a literal sense. Kia was also smart enough to take advantage of the current autonomous car trend and put together a vehicle that can climb ski slopes by itself. Granted, we won’t find out if the Sorento Ski Gondola is as useful as it sounds and whether it has the ability to pilot itself up the mountain as advertised, but this concept could open the door to other unconventional ideas and, why not, maybe a production version for commercial use.

  • Leave it
    • Might not be as capable as it looks
    • We won’t see it in action anytime soon
Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert -
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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Press Release

Taking the idea of a sport-utility vehicle to new heights – literally and figuratively – this custom Kia Sorento was built by LUX Motorwerks to tackle snow and ice as it gets you and your fellow skiers up to the top of the mountain for another run. The luxurious and self-driving Sorento Ski Gondola is all about climbing to higher ground in style, comfort and warmth.

2016 Kia Sorento Ski Gondola High Resolution Exterior
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Dominator Rubber Tracks powdercoated orange make this gondola a go-anywhere cold-weather machine. A custom metal roof rack supplies ample storage for skis and poles while the cargo area provides abundant space for boots, bags and other gear, all easily accessible thanks to the removal of the B pillar and the rear doors being converted to suicide-style doors. Up front, the Sorento’s headlights were painted black, silver and orange and LED light bars were installed for increased visibility in all conditions.

2016 Kia Sorento Ski Gondola High Resolution Interior
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The Sorento Ski Gondola’s interior has been upgraded with custom door panels, dash and center console, which houses a personalized tablet. The interior has also been given a reboot of black and orange leather to compliment the orange and PPG Silver Metallic paint of the Sorento’s exterior. Throughout the interior the floor was given a durable waterproof Line-X treatment to protect against the ice and snow that may find its way inside.

Photo Credit: Kia

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