Kia hit it out of the park with their 2020 Telluride three-row midsize SUV. It’s spacious and stylish with gobs of interior space.
Offered in FWD and AWD, and in LX, S, EX and SX, we were privileged to test the latter with AWD.
Telluride’s exterior has a bold, brash and macho look with its stacked headlight assemblies that wrap around the fenders and running lights that set them off in a halo glow effect. This is all set off with brushed aluminum trim. Even the upside down “L” shaped LED taillights are enhanced with an aluminum roll pan for a rugged off-road capable look. With 178.2 cubic feet of interior volume, Telluride has an enormous amount of passenger/cargo space of most midsize SUV/crossovers.
As a newcomer on the scene, I’ve already seen several on the roads. Shortly after their debut, I encountered a lady with children at a local grocery chain who was loading groceries in the cargo area of a spanking new Telluride. This was an opportune time to pick her brain on her selection and why not a Kia Sorento or competitive SUV. She said with three children they needed the seating capacity with space left over for groceries and baby stroller. Plus, she liked the styling and its size gave her a safe feeling.
As for seating, Telluride can be outfitted with seating for seven with second row captain’s chairs or eight with a bench seat. The third row is mainly for children or short legged adults. Kia included a child/package notification warning if either remain in the back seat when exiting the vehicle. More carmakers are beginning to include this, but it’s disturbing that a parent can’t remember their beloved children are with them.
After a low 19-inch step-in, you’re treated to a fashionable cockpit with perforated, heated/cooled Nappa leather seats with the fronts offering good lateral and extended under thigh support. Your eyes will then go to the large 10-inch, split touchscreen that offers Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rearview, front view and surround view camera, plus a host of other apps. When engaging the left turn signal, the area displays on the driver information screen between the gauge set.
With easy to operate HVAC controls, a massive console below houses a smartphone charger and a conventional shifter for the 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s five driving modes of Sport (for extra spunk), Smart, Eco, Normal and Snow, with the latter having AWD Lock for when the going gets tough (stuck). Some competitors don’t offer this valuable feature.
Insofar as off-roading is concerned, Telluride has 8-inches of undercarriage clearance to tackle mild off-roads and moderate snow depths.
Telluride’s optional heated/cooled second row seats offer substantial leg room and head room. Press a button on the side of the seats and they power forward for easy access to the third row seat. They can also power fold by pressing two buttons in the cargo area. Third row seats flip by pulling a two nylon straps.
Aside from a dual sunroof, tall side windows give Tellurides’ interior an airy, roomy feeling.
The spacious cargo area with the third row seats upright, provides 21 cubic feet of cargo room that measures 20 inches deep, 47 wide and 31.5 high. Flip them and there’s 46 cubic feet. Flip the second row and you’ll get 87.0 cubic feet for 82 inches of cargo loading depth. Beneath the cargo floor is a full width, 7.5-inch deep bin to stow small items out of sight. Liftover height is 30 inches or knee height for tall folks, plus a hands-free power liftgate.
Operationally, Telluride offers but one engine choice. A 3.8-liter V6 generates 291-hp and 262 lb/ft of torque. When coupled with the 8-speed auto trans, it earned EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 24-highway mpg with a tow rating of 5,000 pounds. Not bad for 4,482-pound SUV that has good low and top end acceleration. Economy is helped somewhat by start/stop engine technology that is probably one of the best on the market in that it is literally indiscernible when re-starting the engine, or, shutting down.
This leads to a quiet all around ride with hushed tones in town and on interstates. And it rides smoothly on 20-inch Michelin all-season tires.
Handling wise, and despite its height and weight, there’s negligible body lean in sharp tight turns. Parking is relatively easy with a 19.4 curb-curb turning radius. It’s a big vehicle that doesn’t drive/handle big.
Safety wise, Telluride comes standard with blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision avoidance, highway driving assist (semi-autonomous Level 2 driving) system, lane keeping assist and many more too numerous to list.
Carrying a base price of $43,490, this escalated to $47,310 with the SX Prestige Package ($2,000) that included another long list of niceties, carpeted floor mats ($210), carpeted cargo mat ($115), interior lighting ($450) and delivery ($1,045) that gives Telluride everything today’s car buyers desire.
Impressive as well, Telluride comes with a 10 year/100K mile powertrain warranty; 5/60K basic warranty; and 5/60K roadside assistance warranty.
Telluride can be everything to everybody who needs all-weather capability, spaciousness, sumptuous comfy interior, the latest in technology and a generous warranty. And, it has a cool name that depicts visions of the beautiful Colorado mountainsides.