• Truck Rewind: Kia Mojave Pickup Truck Concept: Kind-a Sort-a Maybe?

    The Kia Mojave Pickup Truck Concept (KCV-4) debuted at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show. According to insiders, this truck came very close to production. How close? There were reports of several heavily disguised test mules running around in the desert. It could have been a contender in the midsize truck segment.

    Believe it or not, this concept had provisions for four-wheel steering, similar to the Delphi Corporation’s Quadrasteer system used back in the early to mid 2000’s in GM trucks.

    The concept was called the Kia Mojave and it was a slick little pickup powered by a turbocharged or supercharged 280 horsepower 3.8-liter V6. It  had a mid-gate feature like the Chevrolet Avalanche, where the rear bulkhead lowered to increase the bed-size by several inches. – TFLcar

    Nowadays, there are some pretty powerful Kia/Hyundai 4-cylinder direct-injected turbocharged engines that could have worked as well.

    In-bed side storage, side-body steps and a multi-configurable bed were part of a package that looked fairly production-ready.

    So, what happened? Why did Kia pull out so close to production?

    There was never an official explanation as to the axing of the Kia Mojave Pickup Truck Concept, but several speculate that the idea of competing against the big three, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and the Honda Ridgeline was just too much for Kia at the time. Others think that, after the poor sales of the Kia Borrego truck-based SUV (which came along a few years later) – Kia was justified in canceling the project.

    Interestingly, Kia and its parent company Hyundai are planning on releasing a car-based pickup truck similar to the Honda Ridgeline. Sure, it won’t compete with truck-based mid size trucks, these little truck-lets like the Hyundai Santa Cruz may do well in the U.S.  That is, IF they ever build it.

    Still, I wonder how well the Kia Mojave pickup truck would have done in the USA. Obviously, the concept would have been toned down in its production version. I think all-wheel steering and the radical cockpit would have vanished in favor of a more conventional design, but that’s speculation based on a nonexistent product.

    What do you think? Would you buy a small Kia pickup truck?





    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    22 thoughts on “Truck Rewind: Kia Mojave Pickup Truck Concept: Kind-a Sort-a Maybe?

      1. Mercedes has awesome Turbos and SUV type coupes that have great ground and body clearance which lets you sit high to see over traffic, gives you clearance on rough roads and pulling up to curbs and when you get in you don’t have to fall down or crawl out of it. My ex almost bought one and traded the Tacoma for a GLC and the birds were singing until they told us no German cars come with remote start and it was like a gunshot went of with a 00 buck shot and killed the birds. Here was luxury without remote start, no thanks. But the luxury was too much anyways because the controls were too complicated and we prefer simplicity which is a luxury in itself.

    1. Hmf, did not know about this concept. Leave it to Kia/Hyundai to have the smarts to put 4 wheel steering on a truck. Biggest non luxury item on a truck today, is not being able to park conveniently, it is a bit of a pain in a 6.5 box in crew cab. My Denali could turn in 37.4-ft a midsize truck with the shortbed is 40.1-ft and 44-ft for the long bed so even in a midsize 4 wheel steering would be a luxury above all luxuries in something like a Tacoma, even luxury cars 2/3 the length of a truck have 4 wheel steering and it is starting to stick now with Cadillac, Acura, Porsche and a few more.

      KIA/Hyundai is producing gas turbo’s now capable of more torque per litre than a diesel at lower rpm’s and they have sports cars for a third of the price of a Porsche that keeps up with Porsche. I just hope if they do build a truck that it does not drive like the KIA Sportage I owned, it was like the Ridgeline and the suspension was very limited like the Ridgeline, more car like than a truck. But the 4 wheel steering would be tempting even with a suspension like the Ridgeline. My 2012 Sportage at the time was a 4cyl Turbo with 264HP and I raced my 2004 Audi A6 with 300HP with a V8, all the way from a dead stop to 100mph and neither vehicle moved more than 1/2″ of each other, it was a complete dead heat, closest race I have ever witnessed or been in, those turbo motors are fast. Ford has proven that in the Truck world. Just hope they do a Turbo in a V8 so we get the sound with all the rest of the diesel like benefits and acceleration.

      Wonder where Ford left off with the 4 wheel steering they were testing a few months ago on the F150’s?

      1. Rambro – – –

        R: “My Denali could turn in 37.4-ft a midsize truck with the shortbed is 40.1-ft and 44-ft for the long bed..”

        What’s the WB on the Denali? MY ’96 Ram Club Cab with 6.5-ft box turns in 38 feet with 4WS: it has a 139-inch WB.

        But my mid-size Frontier Crew Cab Long bed(6-ft) requires 49 feet (!) for a turning circle , without 4WS.
        My 95-inch WB, 2-Dr Wrangler (solid axles all around) needs only 34 feet without 4WS.

        So, I wonder if a similar turning circle that from 4WS can be achieved be revising the front “axle” geometry?

        R: “Wonder where Ford left off with the 4 wheel steering they were testing a few months ago on the F150’s?”

        Perhaps the business case wasn’t there. Seemingly good ideas don’t necessarily make it in the market place the economics don’t calculate right.


        1. CORRECTION – – –

          “…Ram Club Cab with 6.5-ft box turns in 38 feet with 4WS…” should be “…Ram Club Cab with 6.5-ft box turns in 38 feet WITHOUT 4WS…”


        2. The Frontier has a horrific turning circle. I just had a rental this week in Seattle and it’s awful. It feels worse than my F150 supercrew lang bed.

          I also test drove a Frontier crew with the Long bed and a almost missed the turn out of the parking lot.

          1. The Honda CRV has a 104″ wheelbase with a 37.4 turn radius, its terrible for that wheelbase. My 2004 Sierra Denali quadsteer had a 143.5″ wheelbase with the same turn radius. Some vehicles are worse than others. I imagine it comes down to safety concerns for hard emergency cornering. If you let the front axle turn to much you risk roll over during torcher testing and that varies from one vehicle to the next. With 4 wheel steering there is very little risk of a roll over with a tight turn radius during an emergency evasive maneuver as the entire vehicle skates and shifts sideways not just the front end. Makes for a comfortable ride on a windy road. You would have to experience it to appreciate it.

        3. There are other advantages Bernie. My Denali had a 143.5″ wheel base with the same turn radius as a Honda CRV SUV.

          The 4 wheel steering also gave you an advantage for trailer whip on the highway, skid control, more maneuverability, better cornering and backing up a trailer is made easy. Imagine a trailer hooked up to the front of your truck so you push the trailer into place with your front steer axle, how easy would that be? It is the same with a steer axle in the rear, a trailer cant get away and you steer the trailer where you want it to go. Just a luxury for truck owners, more of a luxury for luxury truck owners than for luxury cars and it is on cars today.

        4. And I said this to rambro several times the 4ws was an expensive option that the people was not going to buy for little better convenience turning better. I suspect Ford might drop it to just the same.

    2. The market is there…..but for some reason that I just do not understand, KIA/Hyundai insist on being followers instead of LEADERS.
      The Santa Cruz was exactly like nothing else….what a superb place to be in a busy market place.

    3. Hyundai is working on a ” Hilux Fighter” presumably they have it already to go. Problem is getting a factory site in Thailand. They are looking at 2020/21 for production. Yes it will be a diesel

    4. Would you buy a small Kia pickup truck? Sure, If it is close to the Santa Cruz concept then Yes. I would like a midsize vehicle that can handle 3 car seats across the 2nd row. I don’t need it to be #1 off road capable. I need descent all wheel drive and a good turning radius. Also, I would like it to hold 500lbs of 4×8 sheet stock out of the elements if the middle row is unoccupied. I would like it to be more affordable than the Odyssey/Sienna and less hideous than the Ram PMC and Ford TC.

    5. Legions of Americans are driving around in decrepit Ford Rangers and old S10s. We’re all dreaming of the day somebody has the market smarts to offer a truly small, truly affordable, very light duty pickup. That day is nowhere in sight. Even the Ridgeline, Tacoma and Santa Cruz (concept) are midsize, not small. Fans of inexpensive small trucks have been totally abandoned in the US market. We’ll just keep our old hunk of junk small trucks running till the salt melts the frames, I guess.

      1. Totally agree Scott. Trucks deserve more and we need more competition like what we have in the SUV market. Over there you can buy anything you want. Trucks are the best selling because they are needed today and they deserve better options. We even had faster trucks with AWD 25 years ago like the Syclone and Typhoon. DO you remember when an old car or SUV in any trim could beat a car or SUV today. We had faster full sized trucks like the Supercharged Tundra, the SRT 10 and we had midsize trucks and small trucks with V8 options. And we had short bed regular cabs.

        I have been saying it for years despite the praise from journalist the truck market has gone to shit. Pretty bad when Mexico has more options than the United States of America and Canada.

    6. One of the really neat things about this concept is that you could push a button and the Mojave’s rear bed would stretch into the passenger compartment. That’s because the power-operated rear wall would slide forward to extend the bed from 71 inches to 86 inches in length, enough room to fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood.

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