American truck manufacturers have a new country to keep their eye on. With the onslaught of new trucks from Japan (not the least of which is 2005's Tacoma X-Runner and 2004's Nissan Titan) and rumors of trucks coming out of Germany as well, another challenger arises as South Korea's Kia shows off their KCV-4 Mojave midsize Pickup Truck at the Chicago Auto Show.
But the sweat doesn't need to bead up just yet. The Mojave is a concept vehicle only, and, interestingly, Kia says that they have no current plans to actually produce any truck for the American market. Kia has no production facility in the United States capable of producing a midsize truck for this market and so no target date exists for a production vehicle. However, the Mojave concept, designed in Nam Yang, South Korea, was built in the US and will hopefully have a chance to test its mettle as Kia and Hyundai build their new 4,300 acre vehicle proving grounds facility. Coincidentally, the proving grounds will be located near California City, CA, in the Mojave Desert.
Taking the cues from the newest trucks for the American market, the Toyota Tacoma X-Runner and the Dodge Dakota (both of which, for 2005, are significantly larger than their predecessors), Kia skips the small truck market where Asian manufacturers Toyota and Nissan started and goes directly after the exciting midsize market. Manufacturer representatives that we spoke with at Dodge, Toyota, and Kia were all saying the same thing: Americans want bigger, tougher trucks, that trucks are becoming family vehicles, and the midsize market meets the needs of the family - moving groceries, not concrete - without the bulk and expense of the full size form factor.
This isn't the only lead that Kia has followed from the American market. The Mojave sports the midgate feature popularized by the Chevy Avalanche and takes it a step further. The rear seats fold down and the rear glass lifts up manually, and then the rear wall (the front wall of the bed) slides forward to meet the front seats at the touch of a button on the dash. So you can choose between four forward facing seats for taking the kids to school, or, with the midgate at the far forward position, you have a midsize two seater that can haul home your goodies from Home Depot on a Saturday. With the midgate in the rear position, the bed is 71 inches long, in the forward position, 86 inches. For comparison, the 2005 Dodge Dakota Club Cab, currently the largest in the midsize market, clocks in at 78.8 inches.
as the hard numbers go, the Mojave's wheelbase is 130 inches with a total
length of 210 inches. Its body-on-frame construction is considerably longer
than the Kia Sorento platform on which it is based. Rack and pinion steering
is designed with 4-wheel steering in mind for the future. Powerplant is a
3.8-liter, DOHC 24-valve V6 with an estimated 280 horsepower coupled to
a 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Wheels are 20
inches across with 20-inch sport tires.
Visit our Kia Mojave photo gallery from the Chicago Auto Show to see more pictures of the Kia Mojave and to watch a short video showing the movement of the midgate from front to rear and back again.