Class: Midsize Crossover
Miles driven: 954
Fuel used: 41.6 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 22.9 mpg
Driving mix: 30% city, 70% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/24/21 (city/highway combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $43,490 (not including $1045 destination charge)
Options on test car: SX Prestige Package ($2000), carpeted floor mats ($210), carpeted cargo mat ($115)
Price as tested: $46,860
The great: Generous passenger and cargo room; ride quality; steering feel
The good: Classy styling; responsive powertrain
The not so good: Despite overall tractability, large dimensions can make parking in tight quarters a challenge
When it comes to sport-utility vehicles, it almost seems as though big is big again.
In just the last couple of years, Consumer Guide has seen it necessary to describe several all-new midsize SUVs as “one of the largest” or “the largest” vehicle that a particular manufacturer has ever made. For 2018, that was true of the Volkswagen Atlas. The same was said for the 2019 Subaru Ascent. Now one of the first model-year-2020 introductions, the Kia Telluride, hits the big time.
Like the Atlas and the Ascent, the Telluride is a 3-row SUV. Designed specifically for the North American market, it is manufactured in Kia’s KMMG plant in West Point, Georgia. As the following chart shows, the Telluride is dimensionally on par with the other newcomers—albeit with a big advantage in passenger volume, according to manufacturer specifications. Note that “Price“ reflects the 2019 base price (with delivery) of the highest-trim model with all-wheel drive:
Those select numbers aren’t the whole story, of course. For instance, the Telluride boasts the largest and most powerful engine of the trio, yet with EPA fuel-economy estimates that trail the city and combined projections for the turbocharged 4-cylinder Ascent by just one mpg apiece.
CG editors put considerable miles on a top-line Telluride SX with AWD (which adds $2000 to the sticker price). With extra-cost floor and cargo-area mats, plus the $2000 Prestige Package with head-up display, Nappa-leather seat trim, heated and ventilated second-row seats, premium cloth headliner, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, the bottom line was a still-competitive $46,860.
The SX is distinguished from the three lower trim levels through several appearance, comfort, and technology items. External touches include 20-inch black-finish alloy wheels, LED low-beam headlights and fog lights, and a second sunroof above the rear compartment. Inside, middle-row seats are individual captain’s chairs, and the driver gets a 12-way-adjustable seat with memory function. A Harman Kardon surround-sound system upgrades the audio gear. Tech additions are surround-view and blind-spot-view monitors (the latter displayed in the instrument cluster when the turn signals are activated), forward parking-distance warning, and a HomeLink universal remote.
Those features are in addition to equipment passed up through the product line, such as a front power sunroof, hands-free power tailgate, acoustic windshield and front-door glass, and power-folding heated exterior mirrors. Cabin conveniences include heated and ventilated power front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button starting, navigation, satellite radio, tri-zone automatic climate control, and retractable shades for the rear-door windows. Connectivity is enhanced via Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and a wireless phone charger. Safety is addressed by adaptive cruise control with stop/start functionality in traffic, rear- and side-vision alerts, collision-avoidance and lane-keeping assists, rear-occupant alert, and “Safe Exit Assist.”
The Telluride’s 3.8-liter V6 makes 291 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5200 revs. It’s pretty strong, fairly smooth, and generally quiet. This somewhat imposing Kia doesn’t dawdle off the line, and it cruises easily in sustained highway driving. While the 8-speed automatic transmission kicks down smartly for passing oomph, this tester sensed a few hesitant upshifts. Towing capacity is rated at 5000 pounds.
EPA fuel-mileage estimates for the AWD Telluride are 19 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway, and 21 combined. This driver’s 505-mile turn in the test truck—a large chunk of which featured hauling four adults and their stuff between Chicago and Indianapolis to attend the Indy 500—worked out to 21.9 mpg over roughly a tank-and-a-half of gas.
The Telluride is composed and acceptably quiet on the open road, without appreciable body lean or wallow. It steers with ease and some sense of precision, which helps to make it maneuverable and fairly easy to park—though that optional surround-view camera is a handy aid. Braking is SUV good, just not sports-car good.
Interior room is among this new Kia’s best attributes. There’s plenty of stretch-out space in the first two rows, and even tolerable legroom for two average-sized adults in the 60/40-split third-row seat. (SX seating capacity is seven passengers, if three of them are older children in the back row; models with a middle-row bench seat can hold up to eight people.) It’s not hard to reach the back row between the captain’s chairs, but they do track forward for easy, direct access. Headroom is excellent in the front two rows, but a little more limited all the way back. Big glass area is a boon to driver vision.
The top-line Telluride’s luxury touches in terms of materials and conveniences make the cabin a good place to be. Audio settings are a snap to input on the 10-inch touchscreen and easy to control via steering-wheel buttons. The climate system has handy dials to set temperatures; other adjustments rely on a long bank of buttons that are at least clearly marked. Storage bins, nets, and pouches; cup holders; and USB charge ports are found in all three rows.
Only about a quarter of total cargo space is available when the third-row seats are up, but the bumper-height load floor lifts to expose a good amount of additional space. With just the back seat down, four race fans had all the room they needed for various coolers, backpacks, clothing, and other incidentals. Rear and middle seats fold absolutely flat to form an expansive, unified cargo bed—though the retracted captain’s chairs do leave a large gap between them.
“Go big or go home,” they say. With the new Kia Telluride, you can do both comfortably.
2020 Kia Telluride SX