Kia’s answer to the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger will arrive here in 2025, codenamed TK
More details of Kia’s first ute have emerged via Australian dealer sources, including confirmation that the Korean brand’s first direct rival for the top-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger will go on sale here in 2025.
Other information apparently revealed to Australian Kia dealers today include the fact Kia’s first ute will be codenamed TK, powered by a diesel engine and based on an all-new ladder-frame platform.
Kia also told its dealers the all-new ute, development of which began in 2020, was benchmarked against both the market-leading HiLux and Ranger in order to achieve competitive towing and payload capacity targets.
Kia Australia would not confirm any of the information leaked to carsales today, but issued the following statement:
“Kia is currently developing a future pickup truck model that will be highly capable and fit for purpose. Additional details will be confirmed in due course.”
Back in March, Kia Corporation announced that not one but two all-electric utes will be among 17 new EVs it plans to launch globally by 2030, including a “strategic model for emerging markets” and a “dedicated electric pickup truck”.
So far there’s no confirmation of a battery-powered version of Kia’s first ute for Australia, but today’s fresh information augers well for a model that’s been on Kia Australia’s wish-list for almost five years.
While a Hyundai-badged version of the new ute being developed by Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group is no longer guaranteed, disguised prototypes of a dual-cab Kia ute have been spotted in South Korea on at least two occasions since late 2022, showing it will wear a similar front-end design to the Kia Mohave large SUV sold in the US and Korea (pictured here).
carsales understands Kia has conducted intensive ute market analysis Down Under and that engineers from various Kia R&D departments have visited Australia multiple times over several years to study competitors.
Indeed, Australia is expected to be one of the world’s biggest markets for the first Kia ute, which Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith said back in 2019 would help the Korean brand reach 100,000 annual sales.
Kia sold more than 78,000 vehicles in Australia last year, placing it third behind Toyota and Mazda, and while at least three Chinese brands also have lofty sales aspirations, 100,000 sales would have positioned Kia second behind Toyota last year.
At the time, Meredith said Kia’s first ute would directly target Australia’s most popular utes by offering a full range of body styles and powertrains, but we expect it will first emerge in volume-selling dual-cab 4×4 pick-up form.
While EV and perhaps hybrid versions will follow, Kia’s all-new mid-size one-tonne ute now appears likely to be launched with a single diesel engine, most likely Hyundai-Kia’s trusty 2.2-litre CRDi four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which currently offers 148kW/440Nm but would need to deliver at least 150kW/500Nm to be competitive.
Hyundai Motor Group’s circa-210kW 2.5-litre T-GDI four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine could also be offered in other markets.
However, a future trump card for Australia could be the bullocking 204kW/588Nm 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel that debuted in the Genesis GV80, which would give the Ford Ranger’s optional 184kW/600Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo a solid run for its money.
Given it is being tested on public roads and Australian dealers have now been given details including 2025 launch timing, the first Kia ute could be revealed and enter production as soon as late this year, but more likely in 2024.
Digital images: Kleber Silva via Behance.net
Keyword: First Kia ute confirmed for Australia in 2025