Kia has a brand-new midsize crossover for 2020, its biggest and boldest ever with an exciting view of the world and remarkable capacity for exploration and adventure.
The Telluride goes against the current trend for sleek, curvy SUV styling with a boxy hood, sheer sides, and right-angled patterns reminiscent of older SUV design.
The first Kia specifically designed for the U.S., the Telluride is capable of seating eight and is loaded with technology for comfort, convenience, and utility, with a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude suggested by the brawny exterior.
Its powerful exterior is complemented by tasteful chrome and lighting accents, hinting at the luxurious, well-appointed interior.
Four trims are available, each building on the previous – LX, $31,690; S, $33,990; EX, $37,090; and SX (the trim I drove), $41,490. All-wheel drive adds $2,000.
Seven exterior colors are offered, depending on the trim level – standard Dark Moss (green/brown), Everlasting Silver, Gravity Gray, and premium ($395) Snow White Pearl, Ebony Black, and Black Copper (slight copper glow in bright light).
My Dark Moss Telluride SX was powered by a 3.8-liter GDI V-6 with 291 horsepower, through an eight-speed automatic transmission with four drive modes – Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Smart.
An electronic parking brake is standard. Twenty-inch alloy wheels with five multi-spokes had a glossy black Sport finish – very attractive with the dark exterior color.
My Telluride was EPA rated at 19 mpg highway/24 city/21 combined. I drove mostly local neighborhood and surface streets and averaged 24.8 mpg.
Active On-Demand All Wheel Drive monitors road conditions and distributes power to the wheels that need it. Snow Mode or AWD Lock can be manually activated to provide optimal traction. Eco and Comfort modes can deliver 20 to 35 percent of power to the rear wheels.
Sport, Smart, and Snow modes can deliver up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels. AWD Lock mode delivers power evenly to all four wheels.
Many factors contribute to Telluride’s composed ride and performance, including four-wheel independent suspension; a strong, stiff, torsionally rigid body structure with 59.4% high-strength steel; and Downhill Brake Control.
Besides the expansive hood and wide dark-metallic multi-bladed front grille (with satin silver surround), the front featured a premium silver-finished skid plate; eye-catching, stacked rectangular headlights; and an upright windshield.
The simple side profile led to inverted “L” taillights with LED stripes on the vertical leg, gloss-black trim on the D-pillars, and a sculpted rear skid plate (same silver finish as the front) with integrated chrome-tipped twin exhaust outlets.
Satin chrome surrounded the side windows, trimmed the body-color door handles, and finished the low-profile roof rails, the front bumper air ducts, and lower door molding. Elongated nameplates on the front edge of the hood and on the liftgate left no doubt this was a Telluride.
The interior was more like a comfortable living room than a utility vehicle, with double-stitched, quilted and extra padded Gray Nappa leather upholstery (Prestige Package Plus, $2,000), brushed metal and matte finished wood on the doors and dash, gloss black on the center stack/console, dual sunroof with front tilt and slide panel and rear fixed panel, second-row captain chairs (tilt and slide for third-row access, fold flat for loading), and reclining/folding 60/40 third row seat.
Interior colors include black, Espresso Brown, gray, and Butterscotch leather, and gray, black, and Dune Brown Nappa leather.
Comfort and convenience were elevated throughout with ceiling-mounted second-row climate control, HVAC diffusing ceiling vents for wider spread of air flow (second and third rows), second-row sunshades, and front seatback hooks for bags.
There were heated/ventilated first- and second-row seats (three fan speeds circulated cabin air through perforated leather seating, Prestige Package); a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel; two large cupholders and a fry/phone slot on the console; grab handles on the wide center console (for off-road adventures), and a dual-level cargo floor with hidden storage.
The spare tire was under the cargo floor and a bin near the wall held the jack and tools.
Second-row passengers had cupholders on the center console, set in gloss black; bottle holders on the doors; and seatback pockets with added net device pockets.
Third-row riders had two cupholders on each side and a small cubby on the passenger side wall.
The cabin was spacious with 39.5 inches of headroom in the front, 38.8 in the middle, and 37.8 in the rear. Front legroom was 41.4 inches, second row was 42.4, and third row was 31.4.
Cargo volume was generous with 87 cubic feet behind the first row, 46 behind the second row and 21 in the rear.
Driver convenience included a Head-Up Display (also included in the Prestige Package) for turn-by-turn navigation, speed, smart cruise control and blind-spot warnings; Driver Talk to allow the driver to communicate with rear passengers through the rear speakers; and Quiet Mode to allow audio output in the second and third rows to be muted.
The Prestige Package also brought a Premium Cloth Headliner and Sun Visors (gray in my SX), a 110-volt power inverter, and rain-sensing front windshield wipers. The power inverter provides an additional level of capability and convenience.
Mood lighting featured a range of 64 colors, with several specific selectable colors to enhance the driving experience in a particular way. A color wheel (on the 10.25-inch touch screen) also allowed the driver to customize the color to suit a given mood or situation.
A UVO link with enhanced navigation features was standard, along with a Harman/Kardon 630-watt, 10-speaker premium audio system, rearview camera, and Rear Occupant Alert. The H/K surround sound system with Clari-Fi delivered music as intended.
Rear Occupant Alert detects a passenger, pet, or object in the rear seat and alerts the driver with a message in the instrument cluster, then through a vehicle alarm, and, if the driver doesn’t respond, an SMS message to a smartphone with a UVO app.
UVO telematics allows drivers to monitor, control, and access a host of vehicle operations including remote start, climate control, smartphone compatibility, hands-free calling and texting, turn-by-turn directions sent to the vehicle via smartphone or online portal, speed alert/geofencing/curfew limit alerts, roadside assistance, 911 connect, vehicle diagnostic/critical diagnostic alerts, and more.
The cabin had numerous convenient electronic features including a wireless charging pad with indicator lights in the front of the console, along with a 12-volt outlet and two USB ports; two USB ports on the front seatback edges (convenient for rear passengers); a USB charger in the console bin; a 12-volt and a 115-volt AC outlet behind the front console; two USB ports for the third row; and a 12-volt outlet in the cargo area.
The Telluride SX has lots of safety technology including Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance with Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Highway Driving Assist, Lane Following Assist, and Safe Exit Assist. Highway Driving Assist can adjust vehicle cruising speed to match the vehicle ahead, as well as changing speed limits, where posted.
When Smart Cruise Control is activated, Lane Following Assist keep the vehicle centered in its lane. Safe Exit Assist detects a vehicle approaching from behind and prevents passengers from exiting. It can also override deactivation of the electronic child safety lock until it is safe to exit.
Parking Distance Warning (forward and reverse), Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist Rear, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning/Avoidance Assist, Surround View Monitor, speed sensing power door locks with impact sensing unlock, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and smart (hands-free) power liftgate were all standard on my Telluride SX.
The liftgate opened automatically with the Smart Key in proximity for several seconds – sometimes unintentionally – and closed with the touch of a button.
My Telluride could tow up to 5,000 pounds, when properly equipped.
The new Telluride SX is attractive, luxurious, capable, and loaded with extras, for an enjoyable experience whether for daily driving or weekend adventure.
A Carpeted Floor Mat package added $210, and a Carpeted Cargo Mat with Seat Back Protection package added $115. With destination charges of $1,045, the total delivered price of my Telluride SX was $46,860.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.