2020 Lincoln Aviator vs. 2020 Kia Telluride: Compare SUVs

September 3, 2019
2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

Three-row SUVS don’t have to wear a certain sticker price to earn the luxury tag. You can spend $80,000 or more on a 2020 Lincoln Aviator—or half that on the 2020 Kia Telluride.

The question is, does each deliver the goods to justify its price?

Our editors have driven both and according to The Car Connection’s ratings scale, both vehicles earn a 7.0 out of 10 as of this writing. That doesn’t clear much up, until you apply your personal price filter—or until the feds finish crash tests and EPA fuel-economy ratings.

Both the 2020 Aviator and 2020 Telluride break cleanly from their more prosaic roots, inside and out. The Aviator adopts some of the cues of the fabulous Navigator, but in place of its relentless angularity the Aviator softens its roofline and swells its fenders out a bit more. It’s a love letter to American style, even inside, where the flourishes of chrome wrap around tablet-style screens and quilted stitching canvases square-backed seats in glam retro homage.

2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring

2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring

The Telluride takes Kia’s dramatic styling accomplishments to a new level. The handsome shape of a traditional SUV gets thick upright pillars and tall headlights and squared-off LED taillights that give it a mini-Tahoe appeal. Inside it’s the equal of the Aviator in its top trims, with polished combinations of leather and low-gloss wood and widescreen infotainment. The Telluride's at its finest in an ivory leather that’s too pretty to subject to most of the chores it’s bought to complete.

Every Telluride comes with a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 teamed to an 8-speed automatic and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. It’s ample power, not to be mistaken for exciting power, but the powertrain works without any fuss and earns 21-mpg combined ratings even with all-wheel drive. What works best in the Telluride are its knees: The suspension’s supple, never sloppy, and quells anything that comes its way on interstate drives to give the Telluride fantastic long-distance driving talents. 

The Aviator’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 pumps out more than a hundred additional horsepower compared to the Telluride, at 400 hp total, and its transmission adds on two more cogs, for a total of 10 forward speeds. What’s more, it’s built on a new rear- or all-wheel-drive architecture clearly meant to spawn sporty sedans and coupes (and Mustangs?) in the near future. Those talents shine through its pretty skin: The Aviator’s quick, steers well, and has a laudably smooth ride even with massive 22-inch wheels. We’re not as sold on the 494-hp plug-in hybrid Aviator Grand Touring, with its nearly 5,700-pound curb weight and minimal electric-only driving range of about 18 miles. 

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride

In either SUV, passengers get the kind of beautiful and supportive environment usually reserved for one of the Seven Sisters colleges. The Telluride’s blessed with excellent front seats, has an airy cabin that can seat up to eight, and can tote 46 cubic feet with the third-row seat folded. The Aviator is extra and owns it: 30-way cooled front seats pop up on the order sheet, but passengers No. 6 and 7 have to squeeze into a third-row seat that’s better folded down and used for cargo. Lincoln’s stellar combinations of materials blow away any of its previous efforts short of the Navigator; the shock is that the Telluride in top trims comes so close to it.

Every Telluride and every Aviator gets automatic emergency braking, and the Telluride already has an IIHS Top Safety Pick in its column. Surround-view camera systems, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors and more can be had on either—and both offer wide-screen infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, wireless smartphone charging, and high-end audio, though Lincoln’s 28-speaker Revel system is more of a revelation.

2020 Lincoln Aviator

2020 Lincoln Aviator

The kicker in this compare—with all EPA and NHTSA information still to come—is price. A lovely Lincoln Aviator costs about about $52,000 base but soars to nearly $90,000 for a Black Label-trimmed Grand Touring plug-hybrid. It wears its luxury bona fides with a proud five-digit sticker price. 

The 2020 Telluride EX with the fab interior and almost all the upgrades? It costs around $40,200. Gulp. The price of luxury never seemed so affordable.

Summary

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator gives wing to Ford’s luxury-SUV ambitions, with sensational style and Lincoln’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
7.0
Expert Rating
There’s substance to the 2020 Kia Telluride’s style.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
The Aviator’s signature style scales down handsomely from the Navigator.
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7.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 Kia Telluride has a boxy, modern look.
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Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 Aviator’s hefty curb weight dulls what could be slingshot power.
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6.0
Expert Rating
The supple 2020 Kia Telluride takes bumps better than many competitors.
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Comfort & Quality

9.0
Expert Rating
When you can adjust your chair 30 different ways, you’re probably doing OK.
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9.0
Expert Rating
The spacious 2020 Kia Telluride has room for everyone and their gear.
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Safety

The 2020 Aviator hasn’t been crash-tested yet.
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7.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 Kia Telluride is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
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Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 Aviator poses some value questions, but its features and infotainment excel.
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9.0
Expert Rating
Even with every option selected, the 2020 Kia Telluride is a good value.
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Fuel Economy

4.0
Expert Rating
Gas mileage isn’t the Aviator’s top priority.
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4.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 Kia Telluride could use a hybrid option.
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MSRP

from $51,100
from $31,690

Invoice

from $48,801
from $30,581

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

- TBD -
23

Engine

Twin Turbo Premium Unleaded V-6, 3.0 L
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.8 L

Drivetrain

Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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