Review update: The 2020 Kia Telluride is how you change brand perceptions

July 20, 2019

This isn’t the Kia you grew up with.

The 2020 Kia Telluride is the final phase of the Korean automaker’s metamorphosis. The Stinger fastback grabbed our attention, but it’s the three-row Telluride crossover SUV that will grab our money.

With a TCC Rating of 7.0 the 2020 Kia Telluride hits big with chic design, spacious interior, and easy-to-use tech. It misses with its power and weight along with a lack of hybrid powertrain.

I recently spent time in the Telluride slogging through traffic, hauling the kids to camp, and going on a family vacation to put the big Korean people mover to the #FamilyLife test. Here’s what I learned.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Wow: That’s a Kia? It’s hard to believe the Telluride is a Kia, it looks like a mashup of a GMC Yukon and Land Rover Range Rover. The satin exterior trim. The LED lighting. The black wheels and lots of glass around the greenhouse. It screams premium.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

It gets attention. My first day with the Telluride a friend who sells Bentleys and Aston Martins called me and said, “Tell me everything about the Telluride. That SUV is going to change the game.” That was the first phone call like that, not the last. It’s because the Telluride’s brick, body-on-frame-like stance and upright greenhouse is a head-turner.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Bring the family: It’s huge. Three-row crossover SUVs vary in size, and the Volkswagen Atlas and Honda Pilot and Telluride are on the larger end. The Kia has an overall length that is just 0.4 inches longer than the Pilot, but its wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer. This all translates into an interior that’s massive, and packaged well for family life. An adult has plenty of room in the third row, and the second-row seat slides fore and aft to trade leg room. There are 21 cubic feet of storage room behind the third row, and there’s storage underneath the rear cargo floor.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Just the way it is. Top-of-the-line SX gets black wheels, so hope you like black wheels. The same goes for amber day-time-running lights, which only appear on the Telluride SX. EX models, just below the top SX trim, don’t offer second-row captain’s chairs and lack 20-inch alloy wheels. If you’re not getting the hint: There’s not a whole lot of freedom to package a Telluride build.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Just enough power, but not any more. In most trims, the Telluride carries a few hundred pounds more than the Honda Pilot, but its 3.8-liter V-6 engine has only 11 more horsepower and the same torque as the Pilot’s V-6. The Telluride isn’t underpowered, it just has enough power. The Pilot’s V-6 feels stronger and has to pull around less weight, which provides more confidence when passing at highway speeds.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Near luxury: It’s a value. A fully loaded $46,000 Telluride could nearly pass as a luxury SUV. There are a few harder plastics on the lower half of the dashboard, the carpet isn’t especially plush, and it has a Kia badge—that’s it. The leather is soft and the Telluride’s bucket seats feature a stitched design on the bottoms and backs. My $46,860 SX tester even had heated and cooled rear seats, rare for a mainstream SUV (outside of the Telluride’s cousin, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade).

At $46,860, my 2020 Kia Telluride SX was well-equipped with a color head-up display, nappa leather upholstery, heated and cooled front- and second-row seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, and a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Kia may be late with their large three-row crossover, but the Telluride offers great packaging, eye-catching design, and lots of value.

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2020 Kia Telluride SX
Base Price: $32,735
Price as tested: $46,860
EPA fuel economy: 19/24/21
The hits: Eye-catching design, strong value, large and well packaged
The misses: Bold design, lack of hybrid, just enough power

2019
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2019
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