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Kia Tasman 2025: all you need to know about Korea’s new pickup

Olek Novak

This is Chasing Cars’ rolling coverage of everything you need to know about the automaker’s first ever pickup destined to shake up the ute market

Australia’s highly competitive ute market is soon to receive a brand new entrant in the form of the Kia Tasman, the first vehicle of its kind from the Korean automaker.

While yet to be officially unveiled, nor officially named, details for the ute – widely expected to be called the Tasman – are beginning to emerge as its 2025 launch nears, including recent spy pics.

Set to go head to head with Australia’s three most popular vehicles, the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max pickups, Kia – Australia’s number four car brand in 2023 – will have high hopes for the vehicle as it joins the lucrative segment.

2025 Kia Tasman ute render in progress. Credit: Sustvin
A render in progress of how the new Tasman could look (Credit: Sustvin)

As we inch closer to the arrival of the all-new Tasman make sure you bookmark this article as we’ll provide rolling coverage as it happens, right here in one place – and make sure to also keep an eye on our new car calendar for every new vehicle launching in 2024.

January 2024 – latest spy photos revealed 

The first images have emerged of what looks to be a close to production-ready Kia Tasman in camouflaged form. 

A video published to South Korean YouTube channel Woopa TV and further images published to New Autopost give us our best look yet at a bold and chunky design with commanding road presence.

The Tasman ute has been spotted in what looks to be a close to production-ready state (Image Credit: Woopa TV)

The vehicle pictured has a tall, upright body featuring a large grille, vertical headlights and rear lights, seemingly in line with Kia’s current design language. 

Black roof rails and some relatively pronounced black panelling atop of the wheel arches also feature, as well as an integrated step in the rear bumper for easier tray access. 

While the interior is mostly camouflaged like the exterior, we do get a clear glimpse of certain elements like the centre console which retains a traditional gear lever as well as a two- and four-wheel drive mode selector.

An glimpse of the Kia Tasman’s interior as featured on Woopa TV on YouTube

The Woopa TV video also points to space in the middle of the chassis as potentially being able to accommodate a battery pack for future electric variants too.

August 2023 – new render and electric speculation

New renders courtesy of Sustvin show how a production version of the new Tasman could look, sporting similar exterior styling to the Kia EV5 and EV9 electric SUVs, and delivering a menacing road presence.

Considering the new ute is likely to hit the market around 2025, is it possible that it will be a pure electric offering?

2025 Kia Tasman ute render. Credit- Sustvin
A render of how the Kia Tasman ute could look (Credit: Sustvin)

While this is certainly possible, earlier reports by Chasing Cars indicated that the Kia ute will be initially launched with a turbo-diesel engine to help make it competitive against the likes of Hilux and Ranger.

However, speaking on the electric front, it would be unlikely that the new Kia ute would be developed just with turbo-diesel power in mind.

If the hard work has been done to build a ground-up body-on-frame platform, Kia is very likely to want to ‘future-proof’ the ute to also cater for electric motors and battery packs within the same platform. 

June 2023 – significant market share expected 

Kia has high hopes for its new pickup and aims to have significant market share in the Australian pickup industry.

Isuzu D-Max LS-U+ 2023 front 3/4 3
Utes like the Isuzu D-Max (pictured) made up the top three positions on the Australian sales charts in 2023

Kia Australia’s chief executive officer, Damien Meredith, said that the brand predicts that the Kia pickup is capable of capturing a major share of the lucrative local ute segment.  

“We believe we can still do 10 percent (of the ute market share in Australia)”. 

That means that Kia is aiming to sell around 20,000 utes per year – certainly a big task ahead. 

Kia ute 2023 front 3/4 development car
A Kia ute development car was spotted early in 2023

If Kia is planning to sell around 20,000 pickups a year in Australia, that would put it in line with the likes of the Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton, which both sold around 20,000 4×4 variant units during 2022.* 

*Sales figures were current as of June 2023

June 2023 – what else do we know?

Australia will have plenty of input into development 

Like some of the major ute players in the market, Kia Australia has confirmed to local media that its pickup will have significant input from the local design team. 

Kia ute 2023 covered up on road
A Kia ute development car spotted on the road overseas

When asked about how much input Australia will have, Meredith replied, “As much as possible. Lots of development to suit our market. Australia’s role is being seen as a very important one”. 

Kia Australia’s general manager of product planning, Roland Rivera, explained that Kia’s pickup has and continues to be developed in part locally. 

A team headed by company’s chief engineer of ride and handling, Graeme Gambold, has been hard at work developing the chassis in a variety of tough Australian conditions.   

Kia ute 2023 front end close up
The front facia of a Kia ute development car, which wore a Kia Mohave face

This is very likely due to the fact that Australia will be one of, if not the biggest markets for the Kia ute when it launches. Other core markets will include countries such as South Africa, South America and Thailand, but Australia could be number one. 

Ranger and Amarok key benchmarks for Kia pickup 

Kia Australia has openly said that other utes such as the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok were the key “benchmark” for developing the Kia pickup. 

“It was critical that [Kia’s development team] understood what the key benchmarks were,” Meredith said. 

2023 Ford Ranger Raptor in code orange with a black leather interior
The Ford Ranger pickup is a key benchmark for Kia

At the press conference with Australian media, Kia told Chasing Cars that it had been planning a pickup project for quite some time. And that in terms of key market benchmarks, the target has been a moving one.

“In the last couple of years when we started the conversation (about developing the pickup), there wasn’t an all-new Ranger”. 

Both the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger nameplates remain the primary benchmarks in large part due to sheer popularity – they’ve long been the top two best-selling utility vehicles on Australian soil. 

Volkswagen Amarok 2023 Life thumbnail
As well as the Ranger, the Volkswagen Amarok is another key benchmark for Kia

However, Kia Australia has also name-checked the Volkswagen Amarok, now technically twinned with Ranger in its recently released second generation, as something of a quality and integrity benchmark.  

Pickup will ride on own platform, SUV version a possibility 

Unlike the Thai origins of many of today’s popular pickup and ute ranges, Kia’s new pickup will be built in Korea.

It has also been confirmed by Kia Australia that the new pickup will not ride on an existing platform, meaning that Kia would have needed to build its own ladder chassis platform for the pickup. 

This means that the Kia pickup will not be SUV-based, like Hyundai’s North American Santa Cruz ute, for example, which utilises a unibody chassis and is based on the Tucson. 

Hyundai Santa Cruz 2022 front 3/4
Unlike the Hyundai Santa Cruz (pictured), the Kia Tasman won’t be SUV-based

Although unconfirmed, an SUV version of the Kia pickup could happen – much like how the Ford Everest exists alongside the Ranger – however Kia Australia did not confirm this at such an early stage. 

Kia won’t just offer 4×4 dual cabs, entire range expected 

It seems that Kia will work to bring a full lineup of pickup utes to market in Australia, and not just high-spec 4×4 dual-cabs. 

“We were very adamant that we needed to put the entirety of the segment, the entirety of the category, and strategically target all the major parts of it,” Meredith said at the event. 

A wide-ranging lineup like that of the Toyota Hilux (pictured) is expected for the Kia ute

This means that the future Kia lineup could include tradie-spec 4×2 work utes right up to flagship 4×4 dual-cab utes for work and play. 

Pricing hasn’t been confirmed just yet, but it wouldn’t be wrong to estimate that Kia’s pricing is competitive against the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. 

It’s feasible that Kia might also offer a high-end performance-oriented variant to take on the likes of Ranger Raptor.

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