Sometimes you just know a game changer the minute you get behind the wheel. Such is the case with the much-anticipated 2020 Kia Telluride, Kia’s first venture into the world of large, 3-row SUVs.
This Telluride is the top-of-the-line SX, but there are three lesser trims starting with the LX, the S, and the package just under this one, the EX.
The Telluride is large, it’s boxy, and its big tires and wheels jump out at you at first glance as you wonder what brand SUV it is. A Kia? NO WAY!
Chrome surrounds the windows and there is a strip of chrome at the bottom of the vehicle that runs between the tires. Dual exhaust and a rear spoiler finish the look from the rear.
All Tellurides have the same powertrain, the 3.8-liter V6 with an 8-speed automatic. It puts out 291-horses and 262-pound feet of torque. Honestly, it feels like much more than 291-horses, acceleration is smooth and steady and you can tow up to 5000-pounds. This one is all-wheel drive, but two-wheel drive is available.
When you open the door, it takes a minute to wrap your brain around the fact this is a Kia. The double-stitched Nappa leather seats look more like a living room recliner than a car seat. Every piece of trim running from the front doors across the entire dash looks rich and luxurious. Both front seats are power (the driver 10-way, passenger 8-way) and both are heated and cooled.
Center dash is a 10.25” touchscreen that features the Kia UVO system that operates everything in the Telluride. Graphics are terrific and it has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The center console has handy pass-through openings to rest your hands on, along with two large cup holders and switches to use the heated and cooled seats.
Also from there you can choose your drive mode. Your choices are Smart, Eco, Sport, and Comfort and there are distinctive differences among them all. Nearby is the off switch for the start/stop system, which you’ll want to use, and this vehicle has the fantastic AutoHold feature to let you take your foot off the brake when stopped.
Moving to the second row captain chairs that are heated and cooled, there are USB ports, and air conditioning vents in the ceiling for rear comfort. Both back seat passengers can raise sunshades for additional cooling. The second row captain’s chairs also recline. The third row seat is roomy for adults, the occupants have USB ports and cup holders.
The third row seats fold down manually, but fold flat and they are not cumbersome to operate at all. I suspect in the future we’ll see power-fold seats in the rear. Leg- and headroom are good for all passengers. The second row seats will fold with the push of a button from the rear of the cargo area.
Neat features on my tester include surround-view camera, a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, a 110-volt power inverter, two moon roofs, a 64-color ambient lighting system, heated steering wheel, hands free liftgate opener, 20” black wheels, and a Harman Kardon stereo with 10-speakers.
It also has Driver Talk, which allows you to speak directly to the people in the far back.
On the safety front, the 2020 Kia Telluride has automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear occupant alert to make sure you don’t leave a child or pet behind, and this is really cool: It is called Blind Spot View Monitor. Cameras in both side mirrors are activated if there is a car in your blind spot or if you engage your blinkers. The picture of what is happening on either side appears in the center of the driver’s display.
Ride and Drive
The Telluride drives great, the ride is smooth and in spite of its heavy, bulky looks, lean is minimal in curves and turns. The SUV is incredibly quiet inside.
Fuel economy is OK considering its size, rated at 19 city and 24 highway.
Total MSRP on this ultra-loaded SX is $46,860, which is incredible for what you get. You won’t hear me say this often, but this SUV is easily worth $5,000 more than the window sticker price.
If Kia made a single mistake, it was not crossing the 6000-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating so the Telluride would be eligible for Tax Code 179, a popular accelerated depreciation method used by self-employed and business owners. This one comes in at 5917-pounds.
It is hard to really blow me away anymore with an SUV, there are just so many out there. However, at least for now, this is the best buy on the market by far.
2020 Kia Telluride
- What I liked most: Value, overall quality, and impressive looks.
- What I would change: Supercharge the Telluride, I’ll buy one!
- MSRP: Base price $43,490 as equipped $46,860 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: 19 city/24 highway/21 combined.
- Official Color: Dark Moss.
- Odometer reading when tested: 4500 miles.
- Weight: 4,354 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 196.9” long/78.3” wide/69.3” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.8 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: 5000 pounds.
- 2020 Telluride in a few words: An incredible SUV and an even more incredible value.
- Warranty: 5-years/5\60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, and 10-years/100,000 miles of power train coverage.
- Final Assembly Location: West Point, Georgia.
- Manufacturers website: www.KIA.com
- Up Next: 2019 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line
FYI, our Executive Producer Amy Plemons had this same vehicle in August and did a fantastic video with it: