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When the Kia Telluride debuted in 2019 for the 2020 model year, it was an instant hit with consumers and industry experts who loved its comfort, convenience, and value. Kia designed its new midsize SUV specifically for the U.S. market and built it in the automaker’s Georgia assembly plant. 

The Telluride’s winning combination of competitive pricing, quality materials, and thoughtful design earned it favorable reviews. And it quickly became one of the most popular SUVs. But what do everyday drivers think after a year of ownership? One owner tells his story.

The Kia Telluride has earned high praise since its debut

Kia Telluride 1-year ownership
Kia Telluride | Frederic J. Brown via Getty Images

From the start, the Kia Telluride has received praise from automotive journalists and experts. 

Kelley Blue Book admired the Telluride’s advanced safety features, quality interior materials, and easy-to-use infotainment system. KBB also noted that Kia put an Atkinson-cycle, direct-injected 3.8-liter V6 engine in every Telluride. The setup produced 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. It also included a smooth automatic start/stop system.

With the SUV’s automatic transmission and selection of driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Smart, Snow), the Telluride cut the impact on low-speed responsiveness. The system maximizes fuel efficiency without sacrificing acceleration.

MotorTrend reviewers appreciated how Kia upped the ante in the 2023 model’s interior styling. They liked the rugged energy the automaker added to the new X-Line and X-Pro trims. The latest Telluride has updated headlight and taillight internals and front and rear bumpers. And the refreshed lower bodyside cladding uses intricate details for an even more luxurious vibe. 

Its overall value is also hard to match. The Kia Telluride is visually appealing and packs many upscale features into an affordable package. 

Kia Telluride 1-year ownership experience

Recently, owner Jason Bell discussed driving a 2022 Kia Telluride SX for a year in the publication Everyday Driver. Though he calls the Telluride “awesome” and “everything you read and hear it is,” he also notes a few drawbacks.

He doesn’t disagree with experts’ powertrain assessments, but he says the engine’s tuning still puzzles him after 15,000 miles. Bell explains he really has to floor the accelerator for power when he needs it. But when the SUV reaches that point, the Telluride is almost too fast. He also finds the Atkinson cycle lacking in refinement, making sounds at certain speeds annoying on long trips.

In addition, he isn’t pleased with the “old-school eight-speed automatic” transmission that’s sometimes slow to respond. Although Sport mode makes the transmission feel less sluggish, it also makes the vehicle almost overly responsive.

Otherwise, Bell wishes the front seats had more padding and support. On daily trips, the support is OK. For long trips, the ride can be slightly uncomfortable. He also longs for wireless Apple CarPlay.

The verdict

Bell still regards the Kia Telluride as one of the best family vehicles. He believes it deserves the hype and provides excellent value.

He says that, especially with all the available upgrades, the Telluride is an excellent choice for drivers who don’t need the towing capacity or interior space of a full-size SUV. It offers all the benefits of a luxury model at a fraction of the cost.

Despite a few drawbacks, the Kia Telluride’s pros outweigh the cons. Bell estimates a similar SUV could cost $25,000 more.


1 Part of Their Car 2023 Kia Telluride Owners Would Change