For Car and Driver, There’s Only 1 Thing Wrong With the 2020 Kia Telluride

As attractive as the Sorento and Santa Fe are, Kia’s most popular crossover/SUV is the 3-row Telluride. It’s in such high demand that Kia has been struggling to keep up with orders. The Kia Telluride is also an Automobile All-Star, and the first Korean SUV (well, crossover) to win Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year. And after months of long-term ownership, Car and Driver really only has 1 major complaint with it.

Car and Driver’s 2020 Kia Telluride has been reliable and enjoyable

The rear 3/4 view of a green 2020 Kia Telluride on a desert road
2020 Kia Telluride rear 3/4 | Kia

The 2020 Kia Telluride is already a Car and Driver 10Best vehicle. The publication has so far had an SX model in its fleet for 14 months and 30,000 miles. And the consensus is that there’s a lot to like about this 3-row Kia crossover/SUV.

Since its introduction, the Kia Telluride has had 2 recalls. But nothing mechanically has gone wrong with Car and Driver’s Telluride besides a cracked windshield. Repairing was surprisingly expensive, but that’s not unusual for modern vehicles. ADAS features drive up repair costs for all brands, not just Kia. Besides that, the only cost has been for regular maintenance, such as oil and air filter changes and tire rotation.

The 2020 Kia Telluride's grey cloth interior
2020 Kia Telluride interior | Kia

Besides the mechanical reliability, the Kia Telluride SX has proven to be a comfortable, stylish, and luxurious daily driver. It’s spacious and quiet, with plenty of storage for personal effects and cargo. MT notes that it drives like a smaller vehicle, and has interior materials on-par with those from Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

With AWD, the Kia Telluride SX starts at $44,090. But even with a few thousand dollars of extra features, Road & Track reports that “every penny [feels] defensible.” There’s a 10” infotainment touchscreen, acoustic glass, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman-Kardon 10-speaker audio system, and wireless phone charging. Plus, it has a full ADAS suite, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a surround-view camera system. And with the $2000 SX Prestige Package, you get Nappa leather, heated and ventilated 2nd-row seats, a heads-up display, and rain-sensing wipers.

What has Car and Driver found wrong with the 2020 Kia Telluride?

Car and Driver has found a few issues during its 30,000-mile ownership of the 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD. Some are fairly minor. For example, the Telluride doesn’t offer a WiFi hotspot, while some of its rivals do. Also, although the crossover has a Trailer Package and can tow up to 5000 pounds, it lacks a trailer-towing driving mode. Plus, the trailer hitch is 4-pin only, with no 7-pin adapter or trailer-brake controller.

But the biggest problem Car and Driver has found with the Telluride is its engine. It’s a 3.8-liter V6 with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft, linked to an 8-speed automatic. Car and Driver’s observed fuel economy matches the EPA’s combined-cycle rating of 21 mpg. And while it’s smooth, as is the transmission, the engine’s output is merely “adequate.” MT echoes Car and Driver, reporting that the Telluride could benefit from more torque.

How does the competition compare?

Some of the 2020 Kia Telluride’s rivals, such as the Ford Explorer, offer more horsepower and better fuel economy. And the Telluride’s platform-mate, the Hyundai Palisade, offers essentially the same features.

2020 Ford Explorer Platinum parked in snow
2020 Ford Explorer Platinum | Ford

However, Car and Driver reports the Explorer’s ride quality and handling fall behind the Telluride. And despite being more powerful and efficient, the Explorer’s 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is less refined than the Telluride’s V6. Ditto the Ford’s 10-speed automatic and its interior quality.

2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

Both MT and Car and Driver also rank the Kia Telluride ahead of the Palisade. That’s partially down to the former’s design, but MT reports the Palisade’s ride and seats aren’t as comfortable.

A silver 2020 Toyota Highlander by a lake
2020 Toyota Highlander front 3/4 | Toyota

Car and Driver reports the Toyota Highlander is sportier and more efficient than the Telluride. Plus, it’s available as a hybrid, and the Kia isn’t. However, the Telluride offers similar features at a lower price, and its 3rd-row seats have more space.

A grey 2020 Mazda CX-9 sparked in near a lush green forest.
2020 Mazda CX-9 | Mazda

The 2020 Kia Telluride Has Some Nifty Hidden Features

The Mazda CX-9 has sharper handling compared to the Telluride, Car and Driver reports, and it has an equally luxurious interior. However, it loses out on space and value-for-money.

The 2020 Kia Telluride, then, isn’t perfect. But it’s very good indeed.

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