The Kia Tasman is en route to Australia in 2025 and there is an unsurprising buzz for it given our market’s huge dual-cab ute sales…Here’s what to expect given what we know so far.

WE’RE ALMOST HALFWAY through this year, which means the Kia Tasman launch could be under 12 months away. In just one year, you might be able to go test drive a shiny new Tasman at your local Kia dealer… That is, if it can stand up to scrutiny in this incredibly competitive ute market.

You would think Kia won’t go into this gun fight with the likes of the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50 and Mitsubishi Triton half-cocked. So that means a focus on key figures including the payload and braked towing capacity, power and torque output from a diesel turbo motor, deep tray with good tie down points that can take a Euro pallet, proper off-road ability via good ground clearance and angles, rear mechanical diff lock, and certainly a low-range transfer case for 4×4 (and additional full-time would be a win), plus all the little things like bright LED headlights, twin screen displays, a selection of work-dog and slick-city spec interiors. Oh, and some nice accessories such as tray covers, a snorkel, some off-road protection gear and light bars would go along way too.

Look, this is all part and parcel for any of the current top-selling utes in Australia, but Kia has never built a car like this before, so there is the element of surprise in terms of what it will deliver.

We know from the numerous conversations with Kia and its local bosses over the last 7 or so years that there has always been a deep desire for a dual-cab ute that could grab some of the headlines sales each month the Ranger and Hilux are renowned for. In fact, it has been alluded to that the ute has been in the works for longer than those rumours have been swirling around. That means there has been plenty R&D work going on in Korea, no doubt benchmarking the best in the business.

Kia Tasman Engines

The Kia Tasman ute is expected to come with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the same as the 148kW/440Nm unit in the Kia Carnival and Kia Sorento. It’s competitive, but may need more power over its current output limit to match rivals like the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux. That seems simple, but the specifics of getting the existing engine to produce, let’s say, 150kW and 500Nm, might involve some complicated improvements and new emissions testing. Given the potential sales on the line if Kia gets this right, there’s a chance the Korean carmaker will go the extra mile and set the engine up to see out one or two generations of the Tasman. Also, the model looks like it is going to be big, which means it will be heavy. That should surely mean at least 150kW and 500Nm, although a bump to 155kW, even 160kW or so would be beneficial in the dual-cab ute arms race.

There’s no diesel V6 on the cards initially. That means no rival for the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok V6 (both use the same Ford engine). There’s also not much glimmer of hope for the future, as both diesel V6 engines available to Kia – one a 3.0-litre inline six and the other a 3.0-litre V6 – are at the end or nearing the end of their production. Perhaps one of those will be revived with revisions, but at the same time it might make more sense to look at something else…

Kia talks about wanting a high-performance version similar to the Ford Ranger Raptor, but it’s not confirmed yet – it just wishful thinking. If this does materialise, however, it would need something to produce an output near the Raptor’s 292kW and 583Nm out put from the 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6. Kia’s 3.3-litre V6 in the Stinger made 274kW/510Nm, so there will be an option on the table. Or perhaps it will be a four-cylinder PHEV with the wick turned up – again, we can only speculate until the time nears.

Kia Tasman Extras

Kia will surely equip the Tasman with a comprehensive suite of safety systems to secure a five-star ANCAP rating, which will enable the potential for lucrative fleet sales.

The big K has access to tons of safety equipment from its in-house parts catalogue, so we should expect the model to dish up whatever it is that ANCAP decides is requisite at the time for a five-star rating. AEB front and rear, traffic sign recognition, lane keep and steering assist, adaptive cruise, lots of cameras and sensors and much more will be there we’re sure.

Anticipating the Kia Tasman

Scheduled for its debut in 2025, the Kia Tasman targets key markets such as Australia, Korea, Africa, and the Middle East. Australia is huge when considering its potential for sales. Having finished fourth for sales in April last month, a boost of ute sales could put it right in the mix for the top-three spots. And perhaps why the latest public mule has been dressed in a ‘Tasman’ inspired wrap.

Artist Richard Boyd-Dunlop, who hails from New Zealand, is behind the latest camouflage wrap we see in the newest photos. It was inspired by some travels he did around Australia, apparently, and regardless of that we do get a decent look at the model.

It will be big, with a bold front end. There’s scope for some unusual styling that could be more ‘American’ and lifestyle oriented, a bit like the Jeep Gladiator. But it will be on a ladder-frame chassis and have a diesel engine. Indeed, Kia might just hit the sweet spot in terms of tradie and 4×4 credibility, while luring others with adventurous styling and flashy specs.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

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