The 2013 Chicago Auto Show is here, and Kia is one of the few automakers unveiling a new concept car in what has been a generally uninspiring show. Behold the Kia Cross GT — what happens when you make a high-riding premium SUV out of the GT concept from the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. That concept was for a premium rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan, and the Cross GT furthers that idea but adds all-wheel drive, a high-roof SUV body and expanded cargo room.
The concept is considerably larger than Kia's current big CUV, the Sorento - 15.7-inches longer in the wheelbase, 8.4 inches longer overall and 4.9 inches wider. The automaker has not had a big seven-seat SUV in the U.S. since the discontinuation of the ill-fated Borrego SUV in 2010. That model arrived at precisely the wrong moment in 2008 as the country reeled from record-high fuel prices, a collapse in SUV sales and a global recession. The Cross GT concept, however, is decidedly more station wagon than truck or crossover, and may be better tuned to the market if Kia decides to continue its push upscale.
Outwardly, the Cross GT is attractive. Lines penned by Kia's top stylist, Peter Schreyer, continue to look good in a larger wagon body style. The car is not identical to the GT concept from L.A., but there's a definite family resemblance with some of Kia's other products; it also forwards a new upscale look that Kia apparently is interested in trying.
No word yet on if Kia is planning to put the Cross GT into production, but the company has a ready-made platform for it with the Hyundai Genesis.