Automakers Turning Commuter Cars into Off-Roaders for SEMA


The annual SEMA show in Las Vegas is a chance for the aftermarket community to show the world its latest products, often displayed on wild custom cars. It has also become a place for automakers to show everyone how “with it,” they are. Like a dad cramming himself into skinny jeans, or a mom attending Ellie Goulding show, this isn’t always easy to pull off.

In the past, automakers have come out with some pretty bad concepts for SEMA, but they are starting to understand the key is leaving the wild stuff for the aftermarket folks, and showing a little bit of restraint. There are, of course, some exceptions to this, as evidenced by the slew of road cars being converted to off-road vehicles. The world could use more of these trail-ready commuter cars.

Rockstar Performance Hyundai Tucson


The great critique of crossovers and small SUVs is that they are merely tall wagons and not built for the trail. Rockstar responded with a 2.5-inch adjustable coilovers in the front and 2.5-inch progressive shocks with remote reservoirs. This Tucson rides on 17-inch wheels fitted with 32-inch Mickey Thompson all-terrain tires. Other mods include LED lightbars and various engine upgrades. This is the Tucson we want.

Trail Rated Kia Sorento / Off-Road Sedona


Kia is owned by Hyundai, and the Sorento shares parts with Hyundai Santa Fe. But Kia teamed up with LGE*CTS Motorsports to create an outrageous version of the Sorento, and the Sedona minivan. The Sorento gets flared fenders, housing 17-inch BMF wheels wrapped in 33-inch Toyo mud-terrain tires. It also gets a lightbar, cargo rack, snorkel, and some underbody protection with built-in winch.

Meanwhile the Sedona (lead image) has been converted into a mobile photography platform. The aft section of the Sedona has been turned into a pickup bed, while the minivan rides on 17-inch steel wheels fitted with Nitto 29-inch Grappler M/T all-terrain tires.

Kia Forte Koup Mud Bogger Concept


Kia is bringing a total of six heavily modified vehicles to SEMA, and one of the coolest might be this. Take one Forte Koup, give it a four-inch lift, massive fender flares and custom wheels wrapped in 28-inch, and you have the coolest Forte Koup we’ve ever seen. Kia didn’t stop there, as the Mud Bogger has a panoramic roof with vinyl pushback top, Sparco Evo II race seats, and the entire carpet flooring has been replaced with Line-X. Like the others here, we wonder if the drivetrain can actually match the big tires and wheels, or if it is still front-wheel drive.

Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle


This SEMA concept has the hardware to match the looks. It is what you get when you mash a Toyota Sienna Minivan body on top of a Toyota Tacoma pickup chassis. As you can see, it is obviously more than that, as both the ladder frame and suspension of the Tacoma have been heavily modified. The Sienna body has also been modified, with big LED lights, and a protective front bumper that looks like it was pulled from an oversized ATV.

The Ultimate Utility Vehicle was announced in June, but will finally make its way to SEMA on Nov. 3-6 in Las Vegas.

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