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Kia debuts three-row, seven-passenger Telluride concept in Detroit

Kia is primarily known for its affordable, increasingly desirable economy vehicles, but if you were to fast forward five years, you might see a very different lineup indeed. The brand is currently mulling the idea of introducing a sports car by decade’s end, and at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, the company showcased another of its ambitious ideas.

The Telluride concept is a large, three-row SUV that brings Kia into uncharted territory. While still a pure concept at this time, the Telluride shows that the automaker is at the very least interested in offering a premium, technology-packed SUV above the current Sorento. Consider the waters tested.

“The Kia Telluride makes an aesthetic statement for the Kia brand as a bold, all-new luxury SUV with an abundance of advanced technology, focusing particular attention on the experience and comfort of second-row occupants,” said Tom Kearns, Chief Designer at Kia. “Longer, wider and taller than the recently redesigned Sorento CUV, Telluride allows us to envision what a full-size, seven-passenger SUV from Kia could look like.”

The Telluride is pronounced, boxy, and muscular, with an upright stance and a commanding “tiger-nose” grill highlighting the front end. While it isn’t shown in the photos, the SUV also features suicide-style doors that open 90 degrees in opposite directions, which presents a welcoming “portal” into the vehicle’s panoramic interior space.

Kia Telluride concept

Inside, the Telluride is adorned with black leather captain’s chairs for the first two rows and a folding bench to accommodate the passengers in the rear. The best seats in the house are undoubtedly up front, though, as each captain’s chair equips a “Smart Sensor” that reads the occupant’s vitals and displays them on the interior door panel screen. Once this is done, a roof-mounted Light Emitted Rejuvenation (LER) system uses LEDs to sooth the people inside and supposedly increase their energy levels.

Related: Kia’s ‘Drive Wise’ brand promises self-driving tech by 2020, fully autonomous cars by 2030

Second-row travelers have yet another toy to play with, a multimedia control system called Swipe Command. Like a smartphone or tablet, users simply swipe across a thin, touch-sensitive band mounted on the console to scroll through media. Speaking of media, the Telluride also equips a seven-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo, which comes with wireless headphones that automatically charge when stowed.

Providing power to all four wheels is a hybrid powertrain that includes a 3.5-liter, 270-horsepower V6 and a 130-horsepower electric motor, resulting in a stout 400hp overall. On the highway, Kia says the Telluride returns more than 30 mpg.