The Kia Telluride adds a spacious, no-nonsense, 3-row eight-seat SUV to the top of the company’s growing crossover and SUV line. It has a more truck-like appearance than other Kia SUVs which tended towards echo minivan styling. There was a 2016 concept called Telluride which demonstrated some of the company's intentions, but Kia has kept the press guessing right up to the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The Telluride enters an increasingly competitive large-SUV market with a strong design which brings to mind more rugged vehicles such as the Land Rover Discovery or Toyota Land Cruiser. The Telluride shares much of its powertrain other platform essentials with its sibling, the Hyundai Palisade and borrows much from what is now Kia's second-tier SUV, the Sorento.
Are 3-row SUVs like the Telluride replacing crossovers for some? Are they filling a new need for drivers and their families?
The trend towards crossovers -- which has virtually eliminated standard sedans from many buyers' shopping lists -- is now leading towards larger SUVs as buyers graduate from five-passenger vehicles to larger family-sized SUVs. The crossover market is diversifying into serious sport-oriented models from luxury manufacturers such as Audi and BMW. Meanwhile, Kia is taking a leading role in the seven- and eight-passenger SUV, providing off-road capability and a high level of comfort and styling for active families. Some, like Ford and Chevrolet, had traditionally offered large family vehicles like this and other manufacturers are interpreting the market according to their own designs.
How many passengers will the 2020 Kia Telluride comfortably fit? What kind of interior does it have?
The three-row Kia Telluride seats eight, one more than the Kia Sorento which also has three rows. The Telluride is 7.8 inches longer, 3.9 inches wider and has a wheelbase 4.8 inches longer than the Sorento. Total interior volume is 178.1 cu. ft., with as much as 87.0 cu. ft. cargo volume behind the first row, or 21.0 behind the third. Compare that to the seven-passenger Sorento, which has 154.2 total cu. ft., 73.0 cu. ft. from the first row back, and 11.3 cu. ft. from the third row to the rear. The interior is fairly luxurious and includes 3D-printed door panels, steering wheel and dashboard, along with wood accents, metal and leather. Among the interior features are: quilted and padded Nappa leather seat trim, climate vents which are ceiling mounted for greater circulation, sunshade screens covering the second-row windows as needed. Seat upgrades include 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with 2-way lumbar support, seat extension and thigh support and memory for seat and mirror making shifting drivers on long trips convenient. With a center console aimed at organizing and a second-row media control, Kia is planning on long, comfortable trips in the Telluride.
Is it off-road capable in any serious way?
The Telluride has a decent ground clearance of 8.0 inches, a bit more than the Sorento's 7.3 inches, and available AWD which Kia demonstrated at a recent trade show with a variety of off-road challenges. Kia brought several modified versions of the Telluride to the SEMA show in Las Vegas, and demonstrated climbing and even jumping maneuvers with vehicles like the Kia Telluride Horizon Roamer which has 32-inch tires, a snorkel air intake, roof mounted cargo rack, skid plate, and brush guard. They showed three other variations, all intended to demonstrate that Kia is a youthful brand and that even their largest vehicle is something drivers can use for play as well as utility and family.
Is the Telluride loaded with tech and assists?
With four trim levels (LX, S, EX and SX), Kia is offering features such as a self-leveling rear suspension and rain-activated wipers at higher trim levels, but many of the luxury and comfort enhancements such as acoustic windows are offered throughout. The highest trim level increases the meter cluster display from 3.5 inches to 7.0 inches with more advanced controls and includes Homelink as part of the rear-view mirror with other luxury details such as the driver's seat memory. Infotainment systems for the lower and upper two trim levels are 8-inch and 10.25-inch respectively with additional features in the upper levels. Advanced safety features include those in Kia's DRIVEWiSeensemble providing monitoring and driver assist technologies and features often reserved for off-road vehicles such as downhill braking assist.
What powertrain options does the 2020 Kia Telluride offer?
Kia lists a single engine, the 3.8-liter V-6 Lambda-II with 291 hp. It will come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either FWD or AWD. All-wheel drive will be active, on-demand 4-wheel drive.
Is the Sorento (former largest Kia SUV) being sidelined at all, or are reduced sales expected?
The Sorento is doing well and getting additional upgrades and revisions from Kia, including a diesel engine option. Many of Sorento's new features, interior treatments and styling will probably inspire similar offerings on the Telluride in the future.
Is this more a truck, or a car platform? For example, compared to the Excursion/Suburban platforms.
Kia made an SUV on a truck platform called Borrego, but it didn't stay on the market long in the U.S. This isn’t from that lineage. Truck platforms have been used for luxury ride improvement in high-end SUVs and as the basis for some of the biggest such as the Ford Excursion, but Kia and Hyundai are using a unibody platform for their Telluride and Palisade.
This photo shows the Telluride with exotic options, ready for desert rallying. Is the Telluride expected to compete in offroad circuits?
Judging by reports from several media events leading up to introduction, it sounds like the Telluride has the potential for adventure. There are some great recent photos, though, which were taken at New York Fashion Week Texas-inspired set which the designer created for photo ops. The Telluride can be outfitted with a lot of the rugged gear pictured such as the roof rack, making it look a lot like a Land Rover Discovery.
How does it compare with its sibling, the Hyundai Palisade?
There are plenty of shared features and design between the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, so they're worth comparing for size, features, and interior. SUV shopping is getting confusing enough with dozens of models entering the market and luxury versions getting seriously refreshed, now Hyundai-Kia is adding more "sibling" models to choose from.
Will Genesis, which is connected to both Hyundai and Kia, produce a high-end 3-row SUV as well, an even more luxury version perhaps based on the Telluride?
Genesis is apparently getting into the SUV business, starting with the GV80. The Telluride and Hyundai Palisade have plenty of similarities, but it's likely that the GV80 and other luxury SUVs from Genesis will follow their own path on their own platform, from what people are saying.