Want to sit in great-looking premium-styled SUV with a cabin packed with comfort and convenience features without the premium price tag? Bonus, it has a bonafide third row? Then Kia’s first-ever 2020 Telluride has you covered.
The three-row 2020 Kia Telluride is Kia’s largest and most impressive SUV ever. (It shares a platform and powertrain with its sibling the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, just now launching.) The Telluride has hints of a Range Rover on the exterior and Audi on the interior. It seats up to 8-passengers with a third row that can fit more than kids or a briefcase. All of this for under $50,000.
The Telluride, designed in California and built in Georgia, comes in four flavors: the base LX, the S, EX and the range topping SX trim which is our test vehicle. It’s equipped with the Prestige Package and comes with all-wheel-drive which is optional across the lineup.
The Telluride is big, boxy and upright with a great premium look you notice as it comes down the road. A Range-Rover-esque elongated nameplate stretches across the hood and liftgate. My Dark Moss colored test model rides on upgraded 20-inch wheels with a black finish. A long broad hood that flows down to a wide dark gray insert grille with satin chrome surround accents. The SX is the only trim to sport LED high and low projector headlights and foglights. The entire lineup gets standard body color power adjustable and heated outside mirrors with LED turn signals. The SX adds reverse tilt-down power outside mirrors and satin chrome and body-colored door handles. LED tail lights in back are inverted “L”s and there are twin exhaust on the right side. All trims enjoy a body-color rear spoiler and the SX gains satin chrome finish roof rails.
Open the door to the Telluride and I was immediately struck by its Audi Q7-like dash design. There are soft touch materials on the dash and door panels that have satin chrome handles. Kia did a great job on sleek-looking trims that are in fact faux wood and tastefully done simulated brushed metal. The “wood” trim is actually hydrographics, meaning it’s done with a special water transfer printing process. The floor console sports synthetic leather side handles that feel great and exceptionally sturdy.
The Prestige package features double-stitched premium Nappa leather seat trim, with plenty of cushion underneath though I did wish for a bit more for my back. The driver’s seat is 10-way power adjustable with 2-way power lumbar support. It also has a seat extension and thigh support with integrated memory system.The passenger seat is 8-way power. The front seats are heated with a great ventilation system, too. By the way, second-row passengers in the SX Prestige get heated and ventilated captain chairs, too.
From the driver’s seat, you see a fairly large steering wheel with piano glass black accents and controls that are user friendly size-wise. One of them is for a great voice recognition system. You can also use the menu button to toggle through info on the SX’s upgraded 7-inch driver located in between the digital and analog tachometer.
The focal point in the dash is a well-executed 10.25-inch navigation touchscreen that houses Kia’s UVO system as well as a standard rear view monitor with parking guidance. (It is an upgrade over the standard 8-inch). It delivered great mapping and graphics. The system includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. UVO also includes Driver Talk, which amplifies voice to rear passengers as well as Quiet Mode which utilizes only the front speakers.
Underneath the touchscreen you find the center stack with dual zone climate and A/C vents, along with a sleek row of buttons to access mapping and media options. There is also a button for the Prestige’s heated steering wheel. On the center console you find a leather-wrapped gear shifter and a drive mode knob with Smart, Eco, Sport and Comfort settings. There is also a button to turn of the Stop/Start button which I did find to be noticeable. There are also buttons for a standard electric parking brake and, if equipped, a lock mode for all-wheel drive that will deliver power evenly to all four wheels.
The second-row is full of great features, including those heated and ventilated captain’s chairs. USB ports are within easy reach, located on the sides of the front seats. (There are 6 USBs in the SX.) The A/C vents are in the ceiling and you can control them from the back seat or the UVO system. You also get 2nd-row sunshades, door grab handles and seat back hooks.
The third row actually fits adults and offers rear passengers cup holders and USB ports. Both the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats recline. However, the third row seats will only fold down manually, unlike the one-touch power-folding second row. You can operate the one-touch feature with a button on the captain’s chairs or one in the cargo area.
The SX is the only trim to offer two moon roofs, a 64-color ambient lighting system and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound system. There is no rear seat entertainment system, but as most people have their own tablets these days I don’t see that as a detriment.
You can open the trunk using the SX trim’s hands-free liftgate. It opens up to a lot of overall cargo space:
- Behind 1st-row: 87 cu. ft
- Behind 2nd-row : 46 cu. ft
- Behind 3rd-row: 21 cu. ft
A carpeted cargo mat is $115.
Performance and Ride
All Telluride trims share one powertrain. A 3.8-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic. It’s good for 291-horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is great and All-wheel-drive is optional.
The Telluride also has a 5000 lb. towing capacity. The Telluride drives and handles great and decidedly more like a car and less like an SUV. It delivers a comfortable ride that feels a bit stiffer than others in its class like say the 2019 Highlander. Sport mode is terrific and I really like the confident braking. Kia’s also done a nice job with a quiet cabin.
The Telluride lineup comes with standard Kia Drive Wise that features a lot of really robust driver assist features. This SUV will brake for you if it senses an impending collision. Rear cross traffic alerts you to drivers crossing behind you. Blind spot monitoring lights up to warn you in your sideview mirrors of impending vehicles in your blind spot. A very cool feature only available on the SX is a Blind Spot View Monitor which uses blind spot cameras to display images on the Telluride’s driver display. Also must mention rear occupant alert which detects children or pets in the back seat.
The $2,000 SX Prestige Package includes:
- Surround View Camera
- Head-Up Display
- 110-Volt Inverter
- Nappa Leather Seat Trim
- Premium Cloth Headliner and Sun Visors
- Heated and Ventilated 2nd-row Seats
- Rain-sensing Front Windshield Wipers
Fuel Economy and What You’ll Pay
A base Telluride starts from $31,690 and the range topping SX takes you to $43,490. My SX Prestige comes to $46,860 including destination and handling.
The 2020 Telluride SX is an impressive 3-row effort from Kia that looks more expensive than its $50K price tag. It rides and drives great with I think a perfectly paired engine, it provides cabin comfort for ALL three rows of occupants, and gives occupants user friendly features like the USB’s in the side of the chairs for easy access. It is absolutely worth a look if you’re shopping for a three-row SUV.
2020 Kia Telluride SX Prestige
- What I liked most: Excellent, well-executed premium looks inside and out, its car-like ride and great value.
- What I would change: More cushion for the back of the driver’s seat.
- MSRP: SX base price, $43,490; as equipped, $46,860.
- Official color: Dark Moss.
- Fuel economy: 21 combined/24 highway/19 city with filler on the driver’s side.
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,378miles.
- Spare tire: Temporary spare.
- Weight: 4,354 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 196.9 inches long/78.3 inches wide/69.3 inches tall (w/roof rails).
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18.8 gallons.
- Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds.
- 2020 Kia Telluridein a few words: A well-executed great-looking roomy SUV that’ll shock you with its under $50K sticker price.
- Warranty: 10-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty, 5-year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty, 5-year/100,000 mile limited anti-perforation warranty.
- Final assembly location: West Point, Georgia
- Manufacturer’s website: Kia