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  • Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell

    Quick Drive: 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD

      Kia brings a credible challenger to the large SUV field...

    2020 Kia Telluride-4.jpgAt an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.

    On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  

    2020 Kia Telluride-6.jpgBecause this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.

    My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.

    2020 Kia Telluride-1.jpgThe only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.

    Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.

    2020 Kia Telluride-5.jpgOne of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.

    Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.

    Year: 2020
    Make: Kia 
    Model: Telluride
    Trim: SX
    Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
    Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
    Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
    Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
    Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
    Base Price: $31,690
    As Tested Price: $45,815
    Destination Charge: $1,045

    Options:
    SX Prestige Package - $2,000
    Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
    Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115

    Kia provided the 2020 Telluride during an event for the International Motor Press Association.
    Click any of the pictures to enlarge

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    Kia definitely checked off the popularity box because I am seeing more and more of them around here (not sure what that means nationally though). 

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    I have to say, I tested out 9 vehicles that day and the Telluride is the one that made the biggest impression on me. 

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    Just saw a new one this morning running errands, first I have seen in the wild. Sharp looking and green is very popular here in the greater Seattle Area.

    Agree, I think they checked all the right popular boxes of what this auto needed and while the engine is no rock star for power, it is enough to motivate the SUV to move.

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    ocnblu

    Posted (edited)

    Love this in the green color.  I would have one if I could look past some things.  Third row seat would be permanently folded down.  Also, I understand it has pretty decent off-road ability, TFL tested it on their hill climb course and came away with a positive review as well.

    I believe that every AWD CUV needs a system that is fully effective in any on-road weather condition (some are clearly better than others), but when one also can handle moderate off-roading, it earns extra points in my book.

    I read where Kia may put together an upgraded off-road package for the Telluride.  Will be interesting to see it go against the 2020 Acadia AT4.

    Edited by ocnblu

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    Too bad a similarly equipped Acadia Denali or a Traverse Premier would cost at least $5000 more.  I wonder what is missing from this top-level Telluride.

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    Still shocks me a bit that Kia and GMC are being seriously compared.  Makes me sad for GMC.

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    1 hour ago, ocnblu said:

    Love this in the green color.  I would have one if I could look past some things.  Third row seat would be permanently folded down.  Also, I understand it has pretty decent off-road ability, TFL tested it on their hill climb course and came away with a positive review as well.

    I believe that every AWD CUV needs a system that is fully effective in any on-road weather condition (some are clearly better than others), but when one also can handle moderate off-roading, it earns extra points in my book.

    I read where Kia may put together an upgraded off-road package for the Telluride.  Will be interesting to see it go against the 2020 Acadia AT4.

    All they need to do is have a Trail Rated Test Package version like Jeep and this would truly Rock! :metal:

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    Bummer that the SX Prestige Package is only available in black on this SUV.

    image.png

    This just makes no sense to me to limit these features to just lousy black. :( 

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    I think they will sell a lot of these.  I suspect the Hyundai Palisade will sell well also.  They both look good, they both are packed with content and both cost less than most of the rivals.   The Atlas and Ascent I think are mostly just to appeal to existing VW and Subaru owners that need a 3rd row, they don't really make any breakthroughs.  The  Hyundai/Kia cousins I think came to conquest sales.

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    20 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    Bummer that the SX Prestige Package is only available in black on this SUV.

    image.png

    This just makes no sense to me to limit these features to just lousy black. :( 

    The Nappa leather is just not available in certain colors. 

    1 hour ago, riviera74 said:

    Too bad a similarly equipped Acadia Denali or a Traverse Premier would cost at least $5000 more.  I wonder what is missing from this top-level Telluride.

    Not much, if anything. 

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    Since this is my first review in a while, would those of you with twitter or Facebook mind sharing this or sharing the tweets and FB posts I already made?  Trying to get into this more full time, but I need page views to do that. 

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    Look how much nicer finished the Kia Sorento load area is, compared to the Acadia.  GM, WTH has happened to you?

     

    8-2017-kia-sorento-213-ms-1535564116.jpg

    9-2017-gmc-acadia-151-cdams-1535564115.jpg

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    5 minutes ago, ocnblu said:

    Look how much nicer finished the Kia Sorento load area is, compared to the Acadia.  GM, WTH has happened to you?

     

    8-2017-kia-sorento-213-ms-1535564116.jpg

    9-2017-gmc-acadia-151-cdams-1535564115.jpg

    I think the word you are looking for is DGAF.  As in GM DGAF about certain details while other automakers do.

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    Love the Telluride. Not a single person we're referred to it is anything less than thrilled.

    Money spent on design, refinement, quality of materials, and keeping features standard, not optional, with a great 3.8L V6 & 8-speed underhood, plus a real AWD system that can handle more than...say a Highlander, etc. that'll just spin.

    Biggest market challenge, to others: the Telluride is far NICER, yet at a "normal" far lower price point.

    Look at a Telluride S AWD, with the bigger great looking wheels, and leatherette. It looks nearly identical to the high end SX, yet can be found for a $36-38k sticker...

    Kia got the message, antithesis of GM and others, that keep the prices in line, and spend effort maximizing the vehicle, and you'll get it.

    The only other vehicle in this class priced similarly, and even not as low in ways vs. trim level, is the Subaru Ascent. Both max out around $46-47k with EVERYTHING.

    Yet...these drive nicer, are far more refined, are better built, have more features, are higher quality than...a $45-59k Traverse, a $45-60k+ Enclave, an all over the place Explorer price. You can say "but incentives..." all you want, but that's such a head in the clouds, and they're still thousands more, for less.

    And like Drew said after real experience...this vs. an Acadia? 😂 No comparison. Cargo area trimming above is only a small item.

    We drove a Sorento last year, when testing Traverse replacements, and out of 8 crossovers..."GM only mom", put it in 2nd place next to the Jeep Grand Cherokee she ended up buying. "It drove the best, the power was great, the features and interior seemed the best design...I really liked it, but the Jeep is just more overall what I want."

    Go...Telluride👌

     

    Edited by caddycruiser
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    2 minutes ago, ykX said:

    @Drew Dowdell Out of curiosity, have you driven the new Explorer?

    If you did, how it compares to Telluride?

    I have not yet.  I had a conflict and couldn't make it to the test drive event.   What I can say is that the interior of the Telluride is still nicer than the Explorer.  Explorer, for it's good looks, still had some cheapness built into the interior. 

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    @Drew Dowdell thanks!

    How about Hyundai twin?  Or is it going to be a separate review?

    Personally, I like externally Hyundai a little more than Kia.

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    Just now, ykX said:

    @Drew Dowdell thanks!

    How about Hyundai twin?  Or is it going to be a separate review?

    Personally, I like externally Hyundai a little more than Kia.

    No, they haven't been at an event that I've been at yet.   They are mechanically identical, so I would expect the performance to be the same. Maybe some slight differences in suspension tuning, but I don't know that for a fact.   It may just come down to taste, I like the interior and exterior of the Telluride better than the Palisade.   My only experience with the Palisade was on the show floor in LA in November... so my recollection of the interior is a bit foggy. 

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    I got to play with one as one was one of my bosses rental. It is nice, and I see more of them every day.

    Kia rolls out a few more of theses, and and pretty much makes GMC irrrelivent .....

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    On 6/25/2019 at 12:21 AM, daves87rs said:

    I got to play with one as one was one of my bosses rental. It is nice, and I see more of them every day.

    Kia rolls out a few more of theses, and and pretty much makes GMC irrrelivent .....

    Agreed. Normal customer goes to see the Telluride then "let's check out an Acadia too..."

    Jogs back to Kia. No contest.

    Having seen the Hyundai Palisade now, meh. Same guts & size, semi weird bubble styling, no shifter, etc. The Kia still wins for me overall, in size, shape, fit, and such. But glad to see both give 2 different flavors, with far more quality, refinement, etc. for thousands less than the competition. Tellurides are all over NY.

    Dealer I visited in Buffalo area last week..."it's great. We only have 2 left right now, and good example, last night a customer with a newer Q7 came in and said "I'm over the Audi. Tried it. I need a Telluride. Can you get me one?" Taking orders and doing swaps as much as they can to keep up.

    Edited by caddycruiser
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    1 hour ago, caddycruiser said:

    Agreed. Normal customer goes to see the Telluride then "let's check out an Acadia too..."

    Jogs back to Kia. No contest.

    Having seen the Hyundai Palisade now, meh. Same guts & size, semi weird bubble styling, no shifter, etc. The Kia still wins for me overall, in size, shape, fit, and such. But glad to see both give 2 different flavors, with far more quality, refinement, etc. for thousands less than the competition. Tellurides are all over NY.

    Dealer I visited in Buffalo area last week..."it's great. We only have 2 left right now, and good example, last night a customer with a newer Q7 came in and said "I'm over the Audi. Tried it. I need a Telluride. Can you get me one?" Taking orders and doing swaps as much as they can to keep up.

    Yep, and my favorite part being cheaper as well! I think they could throw on some light rebates and really move these well!

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    I’ve seen a couple on the road by me, they look presentable. But the standard driver safety features would make it a hard ‘no’ for me.

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