First Look: 2020 Kia Telluride, 2020 Kia Soul, 2020 Toyota Corolla, 2019 Nissan Leaf PLUS
Amy Plemons | April 24, 2019
There’s no better place to get real-world driving experience of a bunch of new vehicles in one place than at the annual Texas Auto Roundup. The event brings together Texas Auto Writers Association journalists and dozens of new model year vehicles that are evaluated over the course of two days. This year, some of the redesigned or first-ever vehicles that got our attention include the 2020 Kia Telluride, 2020 Toyota Corolla, and 2019 Nissan Leaf PLUS. We’ll also toss in the noteworthy 2019 Toyota RAV4 and 2019 Volvo S60 even though we’ve taken them for a test drive recently.
I may be a sports sedan-loving gal living in an SUV world, but when you see the 2020 Kia Telluride, that somehow makes it all ok. My first impression of the brand’s new and largest three-row SUV, is that it is one outstanding SUV. Its rugged yet sophisticated looks will most certainly turn heads in your neighborhood. This model’s Dark Moss color gives it a premium look to it from the get go.
Then you open the door, and you get a very Audi-influenced interior (as you also get with the Kia Stinger.) There are four trims and this is the top of the line SX. This model wowed with a multi-toned $4,000 Prestige Package with double-stitched, quilted and extra-padded Gray Nappa leather trim upholstery along with a high quality headliner and expansive dual moonroof.
My first drive impressions were great as well and I found it to be enjoyable to drive with great maneuverability. It’s V6’s 291-horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque felt just right, too.
Availability safety features include Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist Rear (BCA-R), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision - Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Safe Exit Assist (SEA), Highway Driving Assist (HDA) - standard on EX and SX, HeadUp Display (HUD) - available on SX, Driver Talk - standard on EX and SX, Quiet Mode - standard on EX and SX, and Rear Occupant Alert with Ultrasonic Sensors.
We’re fans of the Kia Soul here at CarProUSA and so, too, are car buyers. Case in point, the Soul outlasted the Nissan Cube and Juke along with the Scion xB. Our accolades for this subcompact sedan continue with the all-new 2020 version which remains a great value in its segment.
Kia’s made some great third-generation updates without losing the Soul’s funky in all-the-right-ways personality. The X-line gives the Soul a rugged look with body cladding, overfenders for a chunkier look as well as off-road inspired accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, X-line badging, fog lights and roof rail inspired accents.
Our Gravity Gray test vehicle came with an anything but boring Black Woven Cloth interior full of a funk array of both angular and circular shapes that somehow manage to all work together. New for 2020, the Soul’s Mood Lighting System that allows you to select ambient lighting according to mood selections. The Soul is also great if you like a high driver seating position.
Under the hood, the X-line features a new naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four engine with 147-horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque paired to a CVT. (You can get an optional turbocharged engine in the GT-line.) No complaints about the ride and drive during my first brief stint behind the wheel.
The all-new Soul offers a suite of available Kia Kia Drive Wise features that includes, Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) / FCA Pedestrian type, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Changing Assist (LCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross Collision Warning (RCW), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) and High Beam Assist (HBA),
Now we introduce you to the new all-electric Nissan Leaf PLUS. It’s the longer range LEAF that’s new to the lineup this year. It can go 226 miles on a charge, over the regular Leaf model’s 150 miles.
In my brief first drive impression of the middle SV trim, I was immediately taken with its smooth and capable ride and comfortable, enjoyable drive and comfortable black with blue accent interior. While there are some signs its an EV, like the blue-accented gear shifter, they are sophisticatedly subtle. The LEAF also has unique stadium-style seating in the rear seats, since they sit a top a battery that raises the rear floor. For that reason, you’ll want to make sure there is enough legroom for your backseat passengers because it can be tight back there. The new LEAF PLUS has a new full-color 8-inch display, with an updated navigation system. You can upgrade to a Bose Premium Sound System.
Driver assist highlights include the latest Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology which includes ProPilot Assist and e-Pedal, which allows the driver to start, accelerate, decelerate and stop using only the accelerator pedal (something I couldn’t quite get used to.) The Leaf Plus is equipped with Nissan’s Rear Door Alert system and advanced safety technologies including Intelligent Lane Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection.
MSRP as equipped: $23,951 (XSE) MSRP as equipped: $21,299 (LE Hybrid)
Toyota’s all-new 2020 Corolla lineup also features the first-ever Corolla hybrid, which delivers 52 MPG combined. Both are built on Toyota’s new TNGA platform and my first drive impressions are good. I found its driving dynamics much improved over the outgoing model with a better suspension, ride and overall enjoyable drive. On the disappointing side, the low end models get the same rather ancient 139-horsepower 1.8 liter engine. But the sportier XSE (and XE) grade I was driving gets a new 169-horsepower 2.-liter inline four. (The Corolla gasoline model does still offer a 6-speed manual in addition to a CVT. ) As far as looks go, check out the video below and also note that for the first time, 18-inch wheels are on the Corolla menu, standard on the SE and XSE.
In the cabin, the front seats of the SE and XSE grades debut a new design featuring a unique shape with a headrest that nestles into the shoulder area. All but the L grades get an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are standard, but Android Auto is still a no show.
Safety wise, all 2020 Corollas are equipped standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 that includes Pre-Collision System, Blind Spot Monitor, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert) with Steer Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, Brake Hold.
All in all, the 2020 Corolla is a great improvement over the past model and is sure to continue to be a go to choice for many buyers given its price, safety and long history of reliability.
The all-new Volvo S60 is a compact sports sedan in its third generation that goes a long way in stepping up its game against German competitors like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Performance and handling improves with the R-Design, and especially it you get an optional Sport chassis (which this vehicle did not have.) Equipped with a feisty 2.0-liter super and turbo-charged four-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic, the R-design delivers 316-horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The R-Design trim delivers a fun to drive ride and a luxurious, non-cluttered driver’s enthusiast interior with leather, aluminum and diamond-patterned finishes. Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous driver assist system, is available. You can check out our recent full S60 review and video here.
The redesigned 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited is worth a mention on this list even though we’ve reviewed the non-hybrid version recently. So here our purpose is to point out a cool new feature, a new rear view camera mirror, pictured above.. The image was crystal clear. You can check out our recent review of the RAV4 Limited here.