If any other automaker announced they wanted to bring back the van, we would have expected something practical and utilitarian. We’d picture a family-friendly minivan or perhaps a commercial vehicle for small businesses. But when a company like Kia says it, we expect something entirely different. After all, this is the company that gave us giant hamsters.
So when Kia said they wanted to bring back the van, they weren’t thinking soccer mom. No, they wanted to re-imagine the fun, ’70s-style “activity vehicle” for today’s consumers. Picture what a 21st century Scooby-Doo and the gang would drive.
Enter the KV7, a new concept unveiled at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. On first glance, the KV7 looks like a slightly larger Soul. Kia decided to embrace the idea of a van as a box on wheels. The A-pillar and windshield design are more vertical than what we find on most mini-vans, emphasizing the KV7′s box-like shape. Adding to the box motif are the vertical LED headlights and horizontal rear brake light.
The KV7′s dimensions aren’t that far off from traditional mini-van designs. The KV7 stretches out 191.85 inches long and 80 inches wide with a 122-inch wheelbase. Under the hood is Kia’s Theta II 2.0 GDI turbocharged engine and an automatic six-speed transmission. Kia claims 285 hp and estimated 30 mpg.
The gullwing side door opens to reveal an interior that’s even quirkier than the exterior. Rotating banana-yellow seats? Check. Teak wood flooring? Check. Floating table-top touchscreen computer? Check. Retractable dash board? Check.
Again, if this were any other company, we’d expect an eventual production model would have very little in common with the concept. But once more, this is Kia. As Kia proudly reminds us, its production models like the Soul, Forte Koup and Sportage didn’t venture too far from their original concepts. We’ll have to wait and see what the production version of the KV7 will look like.
Until then, we’ll just have to start stocking up on the Scooby Snacks.
GALLERY: Kia KV7 Concept
GALLERY: Official Kia KV7 Images