Crossover & Midsize

How New Is the Kia Telluride?

Remember when Kia was synonymous with hip-hop hamsters and buy one, get one free sales? It wasn’t all that long ago, but the association is likely a distant memory for most people. In recent years, Kia has steadily — and quite literally — gone from the bottom to the top, consistently improving its quality to make more reliable and upscale vehicles. With the 2020 debut of the award-winning Kia Telluride, the automaker solidified itself as one that should be taken seriously.

In Consumer Reports‘ road test and review, the Telluride fared incredibly well. It scored an impressive 97 out of 100 in the driving test, four out of five in predicted reliability, and five out of five in predicted owner satisfaction. It’s safe to say that Kia has the last laugh.

The new-for-2020 Kia Telluride

The world met the Kia Telluride in 2016 at the North American International Auto Show. It was initially a concept car, designed to be aggressive yet luxurious. The Telluride made its official debut as a production vehicle in spring 2019 as a 2020 model. With a few notable exceptions, it retained much of the original design from the conceptual stage.

The original front end was completely redesigned and the SUV was made significantly smaller. Kia’s concept Telluride was also a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), but that powertrain was seemingly scrapped. Perhaps it’s a hint that a hybrid Telluride will eventually join the 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid

Awards keep pouring in for the Kia Telluride

In its review, Consumer Reports stated the Kia Telluride is “one of the best in the category, competing against the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, and Subaru Ascent.” That’s a big statement, as those are some of the most heavy-hitting SUVs on the market.

As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. The Kia Telluride has won dozens of awards, including the 2020 World Car of the Year and what’s known as the “Triple Crown.” According to a Kia press release, the Triple Crown is a combination of “the auto industry’s most prestigious accolades: 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year from North American Car of the Year (NACTOY); MotorTrend SUV of the Year; and a Car and Driver 10Best.”

Pros and cons of the Telluride

RELATED: When Did The Kia Telluride Begin Production? 

There’s a lot to love about the Kia Telluride — and very little to dislike. The three-row, seven-seater SUV is exceptionally quiet and has a roomy cabin with plenty of room for both passengers and cargo. Its interior isn’t the most luxurious in the class, but it is exceptionally well-thought-out. The second-row seats slide forward with a single touch and USB charging ports are integrated into the sides of both front seats, providing easy access for everyone.

The Kia Telluride’s list of standard features is long, starting with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Kia’s suite of advanced safety features is standard on all trims and includes blind-spot detection, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rear-seat reminder, and Safe Exit Assist, a feature that prevents doors from being opened if another car is approaching. 

The only areas where the Kia Telluride isn’t at the top of its class are agility and fuel economy. In fairness, it’s not even that the Telluride is lacking in these areas, but more of a testament to how strong the competition in the midsize SUV segment. For example, the Telluride is perfectly fine to drive, but if you’re used to driving, say, a Mazda CX-9, you’ll be less than thrilled. Similarly, the Telluride’s 21 mpg average isn’t bad by any measure, but its rivals get slightly better fuel economy. Overall, Consumer Reports said it best: “We think the Telluride is a lot of SUV for the money.” We agree.