January 10, 2011
Kia Motors America unveiled a concept van, the KV7, today to the world during the first press day at the Detroit Auto Show.
Kia’s Southern California design team was aiming to redefine what a van could be and wanted to build on the styling language of the Soul by “embracing the box.” The inspiration for the design was in the elegant box shapes of sleek mobile phones and luggage.
While the box is still there, the KV7 looks more like a rectangle crossover, but with more attitude than some other boxy-looking rivals (think Scion xB). Kia said the KV7 brings suv-like qualities to the van segment. Unlike traditional minivans, the Kia’s windshield is less vertical, following the look on the Optima and Sportage, and there’s no wedge-shaped nose.
Kia is targeting the vehicle at a group it calls “ringleaders,” people who organize social outings and new road adventures for themselves and their friends.
Like Detroit’s bigger, original, bad-boy party vans of the ‘70s, Kia designed this concept to move groups of people and their stuff, all the while encouraging interaction inside. Kia said its designers “created a highly functional, inviting social space ideal for a gathering of friends.” The four seats, including the driver’s, rotate 360 degrees. The rear has corner mini-lounge with seating for three and integrated storage compartments.
The entire interior has a high-techy clean, welcoming feel to it with the bright lime seats, reclaimed teak wood flooring and sustainable wool and felt.
The KV7’s coolest feature is the slick, rear gull-wing door, providing a spacious ingress-egress for friends and their gear. It provides an entry into the KV7’s lounge-like interior when opened with the pillarless front passenger door.
The KV7’s face is a new take on Kia’s bold, tabbed grille, with vertical LED headlamps integrated into the design to give it a clean look. A continuous line of LED fog lights span the KV7’s entire front end. LEDs are also found on the turn indicators on the outside mirrors and rear of the vehicle that pulse in the direction of the turn signal- all LED elements that Kia is studying for future production vehicles.
Under the hood is Kia’s new four-cylinder, Theta II 2.0-liter GTI, turbo-charged engine, providing up to 285 horses. The six-speed automatic transmission can deliver V-6 kind of performance with an estimated better than 30 miles-per-gallon on the highway
Kia’s production versions of the Soul, Sportage and Forte Koup in recent years have stayed very true in looks to their earlier concepts. Still, don’t look for the KV7 concept to keep those gull-wing doors when Kia manufacturers a version of it.
The automaker’s new design philosophy has clicked with Americans. Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing for Kia, told AutoTrader.com that 80% of all the brand’s new U.S. vehicle sales are coming from the newer models.
JEAN HALLIDAY is a seasoned journalist with the nation’s longest consecutive run covering auto advertising. Her years in the trenches include stints at Automotive News, Adweek and Advertising Age. The native New Yorker now lives outside the Motor City. You can read Jean’s blog at AutoAdOpolis.wordpress.com.