Making its world premiere in Chicago, the striking Kia Cross GT Concept was one of the stars of this year's exhibition. Matching elegant form with high-tech functionality, Kia indicates this enticing one-off "hints at the future of the brand's premium aesthetic in a larger package." In this case, a vehicle that's modestly larger than its existing Sorento SUV. Finished in Fusion Copper, the Cross GT Concept draws its inspiration from the power of nature but integrates loads of focused technology to create its own unique vision for tomorrow.

Penned at the Kia Design Center in Irvine, California, the Cross GT features bold front/rear fascia treatments set off by sleek LED lighting elements. Rear-hinged rear doors ease access into the spacious interior while a clamshell tailgate facilitates cargo loading. Even the roof on the GT Concept gets its own design flourish in the form of a multi-element skylight made up of an array of hexagonal glass inserts. As for comparisons to the Sorento, the Cross GT Concept is 8.4 inches longer but 1.6 inches lower than its production relative and also has a 15.7 inch longer wheelbase.

          See all the new vehicles from the Chicago Auto Show

This new could-be Kia is based on the same experimental platform that underpinned the stunning Kia GT Concept, a futuristic upscale sedan introduced at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. While the two vehicles share a similar sense of overall proportion, the GT Concept was rear drive while the Cross GT Concept is fitted with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that's more in keeping with its utilitarian character.  Motivation for the Cross GT Concept comes from a sophisticated, fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain that matches a 3.8-liter gasoline V6 with an evolution of Hyundai's parallel hybrid package that slips a pancake-shaped electric motor between the engine and the 8-speed automatic transmission. Collectively, the pair develops 400 horses and 500 lb-ft of torque while a battery pack mounted beneath the rear floor lets the Cross GT travel 20 miles in pure EV Mode.

          See the Kia GT Concept

Inside, the Cross GT Concept carries on the well-crafted interweaving of sustainability and splendor. The four individual bucket seats are wrapped in Almond-Terra leather tanned with vegetable oil and using only chemical- free natural dyes. Also in the cabin mix are re-harvested American Walnut and renewable wool materials. Key operational systems in the Cross GT are activated by touch screen and a central mouse-style controller while rear passengers can pass the time surfing the Internet and checking out the various infotainment options via flat-panel screens mounted to the headrests of the front seats. 

Will we see a volume-build version of the Kia Cross GT in showrooms any time soon? Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications, KMA, hints that some variation on the theme could happen. "As witnessed by the introduction of the all-new Cadenza at the recent Detroit Auto Show, our customers are looking to the Kia brand to offer relevant vehicles in the premium segments that take value to new levels of sophistication. The Cross GT is the next logical step in that evolution. And while only a concept today, it signals one possible design direction we may explore for the future."


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