CHICAGO -- The Kia Cross GT concept shows what a Kia seven-seater might look like. And it offers a glimpse of the brand's new design direction.

Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Corp. president and chief design officer, says the Cross GT is the next step in Kia's ambitions to move upscale.

He said the concept is the next logical step for his "simplicity of the straight line" design language. For instance, the concept's grille is integrated smoothly into the headlights. "You might see that on other products too," he said.

Schreyer is noncommittal about Kia's plans to add a seven-seat crossover but acknowledged: "It would fit very nicely in Kia's portfolio, a car above the Sorento."

With its raised stance and large cargo area, the Cross GT is similar in size to the Kia Borrego, a body-on-frame SUV that was dropped after the 2010 model year.

The concept's 122-inch wheelbase is 8 inches longer than the Borrego's despite just half an inch of difference in overall length between the two. The Cross GT is nearly 4 inches wider.

The concept is powered by a hybrid powertrain that pairs an electric motor with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that makes 400 hp and 500 pounds-feet of torque. Power is delivered to the wheels by an eight-speed automatic transmission. Other features include suicide doors, a "clamshell" style rear opening with a glass upper hatch and lower tailgate, almond-colored leather seats tanned with vegetable oil and recycled American walnut wood in the instrument panel.

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