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How does a nameplate become popular? Exterior socioeconomic factors can impact how quickly a vehicle becomes mainstream. A strong value proposition can skyrocket a model’s cultural cache. Then, once the ball is rolling, it’s hard to pull the brakes on a nameplate already in motion to become a hit among consumers. In the case of the Kia Telluride midsize three-row SUV, a number of factors contributed to its rapid rise to the top of its niche. Was COVID-19 one of them?

Did the COVID-19 pandemic help boost the Kia Telluride midsize SUV to popularity?
The 2024 Kia Telluride | Kia

Before we dive into why the Kia Telluride became popular, let’s start with when it became popular in the first place. Kia put the Telluride into production in 2019 as a 2020 model year. It was first previewed as a concept in 2017, and by the spring of 2019, it was available for purchase.

The 2020 Kia Telluride almost immediately earned the praise of critics and reviewers from different realms within the industry. Soon, consumers caught on as well. So, by the end of the year 2019, the Kia Telluride became the new model to watch.

Why did the Kia Telluride get popular?

Now that we’ve established a timeframe for the beginning of the Telluride’s rise to popularity, what made drivers so crazy about it? Initially, its styling, power, strong value proposition, and comfort appealed to both reviewers and consumers.

With a starting MSRP of just $31,890, the first Telluride model year was a steal for its size. Though the midsize three-row SUV has become progressively more expensive due to inflation, it still delivers superb value in the eyes of consumers. So, what does the global pandemic have to do with the popularity of a South Korean SUV?

For starters, COVID-19 put a huge financial strain on governments and average citizens as it impeded workflows and closed some businesses (both big and small) completely. The world had to pivot to adjust to the pandemic, and so did consumers.

So, though there’s no clear indication that the Telluride nameplate directly benefitted from the pandemic era, it certainly gained popularity during a time when new vehicle sales were stagnant. In fact, even used Telluride model years were a hit among consumers during the height of the pandemic. The Kia Telluride arguably became even more appealing due to the economic conditions that COVID-19 created as a roomy and affordable family SUV with plenty of standard features.

Is Kia’s midsize three-row SUV still the best in its segment?

A white 2024 Toyota Gand Highlander Hybrid midsize three-row hybrid SUV is driving on the road.
The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

The Most Popular Midsize SUV Everyone Wants, Despite Reliability

For the first time in the Kia Telluride’s short history, it has some stiff competition that isn’t from its parent company, Hyundai. The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride have serious rivals for 2024. The 2024 Mazda CX-90 and 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander are looking to take market share from the two midsize models, and they have the specs and standard features to accomplish that mission.

The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid was the fastest-selling new vehicle in August. If any vehicle can dethrone the Kia Telluride, it’s Toyota’s Grand Highlander. Is the Telluride’s reign over?