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Kia ute: release date and key specs revealed for pick-up rival to Hilux and Ranger

 

For the first time, Kia admits it is developing a ute – and the Hilux and Ranger are directly in the diesel pick-up’s sights for a 2025 arrival


South Korean manufacturer Kia today confirmed one of the car industry’s worst-kept secrets: it will release a Kia ute / pick-up truck, with the model codenamed ‘TK’ set for a release date in Australia in 2025.

Chasing Cars can provide the first details of the 2025 Kia ute today. The model is a mid-sized ute benchmarked against the segment-leading Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, with an aim to match the towing and payload capacities of those utes.

Kia ute 2023 front 3/4 development car
Kia’s dual-cab ute has been spotted testing in recent months

Key features and specifications of the Kia ute:

  • 2025 release date
  • Benchmarked on Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger
  • Powered by a diesel engine at launch
  • Australian development work ongoing
  • Fully electric version under consideration
  • All-new body-on-frame platform

A spokesperson conceded that “Kia is currently developing a future pickup truck model that will be highly capable and fit for purpose.” 

Chasing Cars understands that additional information was today provided to Kia Australia’s dealer network, including that the 2025 Kia ute will be powered at launch by a diesel engine. Both 2.2-litre four-cylinder and V6 diesels are understood to be under consideration.

Kia Telluride Ute 2022 Watermark
Our artists rendered the Kia ute wearing Telluride styling – but it might look more akin to the Mohave

Diesel first, electric version under consideration

Further, it is understood that an electric version of the Kia ute is also under consideration. A leak communicated by Performance Drive in late 2022 suggested that an EV powertrain served by a circa-123 kWh battery would become available, providing a driving range of about 450 km and high power and torque figures.

Even though Kia is part of the Hyundai Motor Corporation, Chasing Cars understands that the Hyundai brand will not release its own iteration of the Kia ute in Australia until a fully electric version becomes available. Hyundai is pursuing a strategy of eliminating diesel engines from its range in favour of hybrid and electric powertrains.

0523 Kia Mojave white
In Korea, Kia already sells a body-on-frame V6 four-wheel drive – the Mohave

Kia, meanwhile, will remain stridently committed to diesel long-term in Australia and abroad. The diesel Kia ute could produce outputs of about 150kW/500Nm as a four-cylinder or 190kW/600Nm in six-cylinder format. At the 2025 launch, the diesel lineup will be the focus.

3.5 tonne towing capability likely

Towing capacity of 3500 kg will be targeted for the diesel model though the mooted electric version might have a marginal dip in towing ability.

It is also likely that the Kia ute’s all-new ladder-frame platform will be able to accommodate petrol and hybrid engines, again making the model responsive to the rapidly changing emissions regulations landscape in Australia and abroad.

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport sliding
Target number one for the Kia ute: the Toyota Hilux

It is likely that by 2025, when the Kia ute is released, there will be a number of hybrid and fully-electric options in the commercial vehicle space.

Chinese brand LDV has already released an electric ute that costs nearly $100K – but Volkswagen and Ford are feverishly working towards the launch of related Ranger Lightning and E-Amarok electric pick-ups, with the latter high on Volkswagen’s agenda to bring to Australia.

Hilux, Ranger benchmarked by Kia engineers in Australia

Kia has developed an all-new body-on-frame platform for the ute model. This platform will effectively replace the underpinnings used by the Korean-market Mohave four-wheel drive, which is body-on-frame and has an available V6 engine.

Australia will be a key market for the Kia ute, and Chasing Cars understands that Kia R&D and engineering teams have worked in Australia to benchmark the Hilux, Ranger and other popular utes.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2023
Kia engineers have been benchmarking the Hilux and Ranger (pictured) on Australian roads

Four-wheel drive utes were the second-largest vehicle segment by sales share in Australia in 2022 – Aussies bought 195,208 4×4 pick-ups last year. The Toyota Hilux nabbed 24% of sales, while the Ranger accounted for 22% and the Mitsubishi Triton 12%.

Formal development on the Kia ute started in 2020.

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