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2020 Kia Telluride Review by Larry Nutson

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MORE: Kia Telluride News Archive

2020 Kia Telluride
Give this new SUV some attention

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Two entirely new three-row SUVs have recently arrived on the scene here in the U.S. They’re both from South Korea’s Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group and I’ve recently driven each of them.

The 2020 Kia Telluride and the 2020 Hyundai Palisade are mechanically identical but different in many ways. More importantly they are both very well executed and probably are on their way to shake up the competition.

I had two drive opportunities in the 2020 Kia Telluride, which is the first of these two new SUVs to arrive in the market. The first drive was at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The second was around the environs of my Chicago home.

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The new Telluride is plenty big, but not so big as to be a handful in a crowded city. The Telluride also looks good, both in and out. The wheelbase at 114.2 inches is long enough to provide good ride comfort while the overall length of 196.9 inches provides plenty of interior room without the Telluride being a handful to maneuver.

Since SUVs are intended to carry lots of stuff it’s always critical if all that stuff can be moved satisfactorily. The only power train in the Telluride is a 291-horsepower 3.8-L V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is an option. There’s selectable drive modes as well as a AWD locking function.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 23 mpg combined with 20 city mpg and 26 highway mpg for front drive models. With AWD the ratings are 21 mpg combined with 19 city mpg and 24 highway mpg.

Driving dynamics are quite good with responsive and direct steering. A compliant suspension provides a comfortable yet confident ride. And, there’s plenty of power delivering very good acceleration when called for.

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I did a bit of off-road driving at the Elkhart Lake event. The Telluride performed well amongst an established contingent of competitors in negotiating some compromised trail surfaces, hills and gullies on an especially soggy off-road trail. Tires are all important in off-roading and the Telluride will do well to make it to many a campsite down a dirt or snowy trail.

The trailer towing rating of the Telluride is 5,000 lbs. and the rear cargo area grows from 21 cu.ft. to 46 cu.ft. and then to 87 cu.ft. as your progressively fold the third and second-row seats.

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Seating is for seven or eight with the choice of captain’s chairs or a bench in the second row. With the push of a single button the captain’s chairs easily slide forward for access to the third row. Third row seating is for three, but most likely comfortable for only two full grown adults.

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Getting in and out is typical SUV with a bit of a climb up or down. The front seats are nicely supportive and both heated and ventilated. Interior materials and trim are very first-class, an observation also echoed by my wife.

All Tellurides come standard with a full contingent of Advanced Driver Assist Safety (ADAS) features. Forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control with stop-and-go, lane keeping assist, highway lane-centering, blind spot detection with collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert with stop, and safe exit assist will all help avoid a crash or injury. Centered in the gauge cluster is a display that uses cameras in the side mirrors to show the view to the rear when you use the turn signal. It’s great for changing lanes but even better to check for bicyclists on the right side when preparing to turn.

The 2020 Kia Telluride is offered in LX, S, EX and SX trims. Prices start at $31,690 for the FWD LX. For my Chicago-area test drive I was in a top-of-the-line seven-seat SX AWD model with a base price of $43,490. Also equipped on this Telluride was the $2,000 SX Prestige Package. Nappa leather seat trim, head-up display, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, front- and rear-seat sunroofs, Harmon Kardon surround sound audio, 360-degree video monitor, 20-inch black finish wheels, parking distance warning plus some more features make for a very well outfitted ride.

Infotainment includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A Driver Talk feature mutes the audio and pipes your voice through the speakers using a microphone to those in the rear seats. There’s no rear-seat entertainment offered so you’ll need to revert to having your own tablets for the young ones.

More information and specifications on the 2020 Kia Telluride can be found at Of note, at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally in voting by journalists at this event the new Telluride was one of the finalist for the MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year award.


Wrapping things up, the Telluride is plenty roomy, is quite comfortable, has very good performance, has a premium look and feel with some classy bits and pieces, and is loaded with technology all for a lot less than first impressions would lead you to believe. I would definitely put the Kia Telluride on the shopping list of anyone needing a three-row SUV.

Like the name suggests, the Telluride might just be one of the best vehicles on the market to take your family on that Rocky Mountain road trip or winter ski trip in the mountains.

By the way, I’ll soon report on the 2020 Hyundai Palisade.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy