Kia's Australian division wants a body-on-frame SUV to take on the Land Cruiser

Kia will soon follow rivals Toyota and Ford into the body-on-frame midsize pickup segment with a model called Tasman. The truck is nearly ready for production, and the brand's Australian arm wants to use it as a diving board to jump into the growing body-on-frame SUV segment.

On paper, the project is simple. Toyota, Ford, and Isuzu have been doing it for decades. The Fortuner is based on the Hilux, the Everest is related to the Ranger, and the MU-X is very close to the D-Max under the sheetmetal. Cast in this light, turning the Tasman into something along the lines of a Kia-branded Land Cruiser makes sense: The platform is already there. It just needs a longer roof and maybe more seats.

In practice, it takes more than a series of neatly-aligned puzzle pieces to create a new model. Kia's Australian arm told CarGuide it would "love" a body-on-frame SUV and that it will be "negotiating hard" with executives in South Korea to get one. The model would fill a gap in the range, too: Kia still sells a heavily updated version of the Borrego (remember that one?) known as the Mohave in some markets, and reports claim that the off-roader will retire in the not-too-distant future. Whether it will be replaced by a Tasman-based model is up in the air, though.

"At this point in time, you need a strong global case, not just an Australian business case," Roland Rivero, the general manager of product planning for Kia Australia, pointed out in an interview with the publication. "What we need for it to happen is other markets, major markets that source Tasman, that also want to have a ladder-frame SUV," he added. South Africa and the Middle East are two that come to mind.

Would the company's American division take a body-on-frame SUV? It might, ruggedness sells relatively well, but nothing is official. Here again, the path from the assembly line to your nearest Kia dealership isn't as straightforward as it might sound, and the theoretical SUV has a major hurdle to clear: homologation. It will be based on a truck that will not be sold in the United States due largely to the Chicken Tax. The platform seemingly wasn't developed with American roads in mind, so putting it in the same showroom as a Telluride could cost a fortune.

"At the end of the day, we need all of the stars to align for something like that to happen," Rivero concluded.



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