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Auto Show : 2013 Chicago Auto Show

Kia Cross GT Concept: Chicago Auto Show

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author photo by Nick Palermo
  • "Purely conceptual" design study for a large, premium crossover.
  • Unique, honeycomb-pattern panoramic roof and rear-hinged doors.
  • Seamlessly integrated touch-sensitive controls and display.

Kia's latest midsize crossover SUV, the 2014 Sorento, shared the brand's 2013 Chicago Auto Show stand with a larger and far wilder crossover, the Kia Cross GT Concept. The 4-passenger vehicle is based on the same platform used for the GT sedan concept that Kia showed at the 2011 LA Auto Show.

The all-wheel drive Cross GT is powered by a parallel hybrid system that combines a V6 engine with an electric motor. Kia says the system is good for 400 horsepower, 500 lb-ft torque and a 20-mile all-electric range. Among the Cross GT's unique design elements are rear-hinged "suicide"doors in back, a honeycomb-pattern glass roof, displays and touch controls integrated seamlessly into the dash and extensive use of renewable interior materials.

Although Kia calls the Cross GT "purely conceptual," Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America's executive vice president of marketing and communications, indicated that a similar model may eventually reach production.

"Our customers are looking to the Kia brand to offer relevant vehicles in the premium segments that take value to new levels of sophistication," said Sprague. "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."

That design direction is reminiscent of the current Kia Sportage, especially in back. Styling up front seems inspired by the stylish Range Rover Evoque, with narrow headlights. No current crossover, however, sports rear-hinged doors. And the honeycomb pattern of glass roof panels is also exclusive to the Cross GT.

Inside, four frameless bucket seats cantilever out from the central tunnel and appear to float above the floorboard. Their leather upholstery is tanned with vegetable oil and colored with natural dyes. Renewable wool and reclaimed wood also dress the interior in environmentally responsible style. In place of a separate display and buttons, the Cross GT uses touch-screen controls that appear right on its smooth, gloss black dash and center stack.

There are certainly some features of the Kia Cross GT Concept that are purely conceptual (like the rear-hinged doors). But chances are, if Kia does bring a larger crossover to market, it will bear more than a passing resemblance to this concept vehicle.

What it means to you: While just a concept according to Kia, the Cross GT includes some attributes that could make it to production. We'd love to see its hybrid V6 powertrain with all-wheel drive, for one.

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Kia Cross GT Concept: Chicago Auto Show