Crossover & Midsize

There’s at Least 1 List That Doesn’t Have the Kia Telluride as the Best SUV of the Year

There’s a lot to love about the Kia Telluride, but it hasn’t managed to land the top spot in the eyes of every reviewer. Although it is an excellent SUV, the Kia Telluride lost to the Land Rover Defender in Popular Mechanic’s SUV of the Year award. It wasn’t completely passed over, though — the Telluride made the list for Family Car of the Year. So what exactly differentiates these two vehicles?

SUV of the Year: the Land Rover Defender

While the Land Rover Defender and the Kia Telluride are both notable SUVs, Popular Mechanics notes that the Defender’s short overhangs and impressive suspension truly set it apart. Its 38-degree overhangs are only beaten by the Jeep Wrangler, and its air suspension provides 11.5 inches of clearance. 

These numbers mean that it’s possible for just about anyone to take the Defender out on off-roading adventures, and test drivers note the ease with which they were able to get the Defender up even the steepest incline. Even more notably, this SUV handles paved roads just as pleasantly and naturally as it handles rough trails. With its quiet cabin and complete lack of tire hum, you would never guess that the Defender was rugged enough for any adventure you might throw at it.

Popular Mechanics also praises the Defender’s touchscreen, which stands out from Range Rovers due to its responsiveness. However, test drivers did note that rear visibility was incredibly poor, a problem that can only be remedied with the Defender’s optional video rearview mirror.

This SUV starts at $50,925. Its base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 that makes 296 hp and gets 19 miles per gallon combined.

Why the Kia Telluride is such a great family car

RELATED: There’s 1 Feature That Makes the 2020 Kia Telluride Perfect for Parents

The Kia Telluride may not have made SUV of the Year, but Popular Mechanics is still singing its praises. This vehicle manages to blend comfort, cabin space, and power in a way that makes it ideal for family use.

Much to the surprise of the test drivers, the Telluride managed to make it to the top of a challengingly steep trail in North Carolina’s Uwharrie National Forest. While its ground clearance may not be as impressive as the Defender’s (it gets just eight inches), it is more than enough to manage the rough roads or camping trails of a family trip.

The interior of the Telluride is incredibly roomy, with an abundance of cargo space even with the third row upright. Popular Mechanics also notes the low starting price of this car, which is a particularly important factor for many families. Although upper trim levels and fancy features can bring the cost of the Telluride up to nearly $60,000, it starts at just $33,000.

Specs and features of the Telluride

The Kia Telluride features a 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes 291 hp. It gets 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway for a combined fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon — decent for its class, but not particularly notable.

The Telluride has 21 cubic feet of space behind the third row. Fold these seats down and you’ll bring that number up to 46 cubic feet. 

Named a Top Safety Pick by IIHS, the Telluride comes standard with automated emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. More upscale features, such as rain-sensing wipers, are available at higher trim levels.

The Kia Telluride and the Land Rover Defender are both excellent SUVs. While the Defender may be more suited to off-roading, the Telluride has demonstrated that it is more than capable of fulfilling the needs of any adventurous family.