“Nah, we don’t need to attend the Kia press conference. It’s like the last one of the show and we're already late for our flight.”

Open mouth, insert foot. We knew Kia was unveiling something at the Chicago Auto Show last week, but near the end of the show we erroneously decided the company’s press conference wasn’t worth attending. Oops.

What was unveiled in our absence was the Multi-S, a crossover concept that strongly hints at a future production model for Kia. The Multi-S appears very RAV4-esque in its form factor, and it’s powered by a 2.4L four-cylinder jacked into a five-speed auto. The press release says it can swallow seven people across its three rows of seating, but we imagine those sentenced to the third-row would be gnawing on their kneecaps if they're older than five.

Check out after the jump for more pics, specs and Kia’s full press release.

Sporty, Spacious and Smart Crossover Hints Strongly at Future Production Model

CHICAGO, Feb. 9, 2006 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled its Multi-S concept vehicle for the first time in North America at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. Aimed directly at individuals seeking a car with character and young families with active children, the Multi-S is designed to satisfy the interlocking trends of crossover vehicles and upscale leisure SUVs. The “S” in Multi-S stands for Sporty, Spacious and Smart, which altogether define the new concept.

“Like the Soul concept we recently unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, the Multi-S is further evidence of Kia’s cutting-edge future design direction,” said Len Hunt, executive vice president and COO of KMA. “Multi-S has near-production technological features and fit-and-finish refinement that will move Kia further up the brand ladder.”

Sporty, Spacious and Smart
The Multi-S melds crossover vehicle thinking with refined exterior lines and soft features that tone down the ruggedness associated with a utility vehicle. It is a perfect combination for young families who require practicality, comfort and safety but still desire upscale looks and a refined interior for nights out on the town or trips to the mall with friends.

Powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, the Multi-S responds quickly to driver input and is fun to drive. Its sporty stance is revealed by an appealing, unique frame planted firmly at the corners on 19-inch alloy wheels with slotted disc brakes that tuck snugly into curvaceous fender flares.

Though Multi-S is not a large van or SUV, it is definitely not small. With leather-suede seating for seven passengers it comfortably accommodates adults, children and child seats. Furthering the roomy atmosphere are dual full-length glass moon roofs, providing an open-air feeling while protecting against the elements. The “airy” feel is accentuated with a heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) system extending to all three rows of seating. A large center console, luggage box and overhead console provide plenty of personal storage space, while fold-flat second- and third-row seats offer flexible cargo arrangements.

The Multi-S concept’s clean exterior lines and sporty looks make it seem at home doing utilitarian shopping runs to the local home improvement store or the grocery store as well as carting a group of friends to dinner. In addition, its interior does not compromise function for the sake of style, both of which live in harmony. Versatile interior seating configurations allow for carrying passengers, groceries or mountain bikes depending on the activity.

The latest in passive safety ensures all passengers receive best-in-class protection, including electronic stability control (ESC), six full-length side curtain airbags, active front-seat head restraints, adaptive front headlamps and a tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).

Multi-S also features the latest in multi-systems interface technology for iPods, MP-3s, PDAs, cell phones, notebook computers and more. A rear entertainment system with USB port complements a 6.1-channel premium surround sound audio system, affording driver and passengers the utmost in sound quality and entertainment.

Kia Multi-S Features & Specifications

Exterior Dimensions     
Overall length    178.94 in. (4545mm)
Overall height    64.96 in. (1650mm)
Overall width    72.84 in. (1850mm)
Wheelbase    106.30 in. (2700mm)

Wheels & Tires     
Tires    245/45R19
Wheels    19-inch alloys

Exterior Features
Modern, clean body lines
Dynamic front styling with integrated chrome grille
Projector headlamps
Front fascia with integrated fog lamps and air inlets
Side mirror-mounted signal lamps
Roof racks with rails
Geometric stacked taillights
Rectangular dual exhaust tips

Interior Features
Leather suede seating for 7 passengers
Fold-flat 2 nd- and 3 rd-row seating
Dual-panel glass roof that extends length of cabin
High-tech center fascia and instrument cluster
Navigation system
Large center console, luggage box and overhead console
6.1 channel surround sound audio system
Rear air ventilation for 2 nd- and 3 rd-row passengers
Rear entertainment system and USB port

Driving Functions
2.4-liter gasoline engine
5-speed A/T with manual shift mode
4-wheel slotted disc brakes

Safety Features
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
6 full-length side curtain airbags for all 3 rows of seating
Active front seat head restraints
Adaptive front lighting
Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)

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