2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD: Redefining the three-row crossover
The first thing that impressed me about the 2019 Kia Telluride were the brakes. A few seconds after picking it up, I needed to slow down leaving the parking lot to let a car pass. I tapped on the brake pedal and stopped instantly.
After leaving the lot, I thought the brakes might be overkill. The engine felt strong but not overwhelming. But then I switched the drive mode into Sport. Then the exhaust came to life and the acceleration immediately increased. Now the brakes felt properly balanced.
Which was amazing, because the Telluride is not a fancy sports car, coupe or sedan. It's an affordable three-row crossover SUV, the kind of family-hauler that is becoming increasing popular these days. I've tested the recent offerings from Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen, and they all have their strong points. But all-new Kia Telluride is the first that competes directly against performance-oriented luxury models that cost a whole lot more.
And our fully-loaded SX test version didn't skimp on luxury, either. It had a full leather interior, wood trim, an awesome stereo, a panoramic sun roof, multiple drive modes (from comfort to snow) and a full compliment of safety systems — including surround-view cameras, and views down the right and left sides of the vehicle when the turn signals were on.
Even more, despite being a midsize, the third row was full-size, with enough room for three teenagers, if not adults. That means it has room for eight people with the second row bench seat, or seven with captain's chairs that we had.
The Telluride is also boldly styled, with a blunt front end, large grill and air dam, deeply sculpted flanks, and a sloping rear window that gives it a European look. But the optional all-wheel-drive version has eight inches of ground clearance, which helps make it more off-road capable than one might think.
Even with all that, our top-of-the-line test model was priced at less that $50,000, which is a remarkable value.
The Telluride is Kia's latest effort to completely shed its budget-basement origins and offer a complete like of vehicles that deliver more than expected. They include the Stinger, a sport sedan that also competes well against far more expensive luxury models.
If you need to carry six or seven other people on a regular basis, a minivan is still a more practical choice because of the large sliding side doors. But consumers prefer the more rugged looks of crossovers, and only the Toyota Sienna even offers AWD these days. So if you're in the market for a three-row crossover, put the 2020 Kia Telluride near the top of your shopping list — and prepare to be impressed.
2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
Base price: $31,690
Price as tested: $48,100
Type: Midsize three-row crossover
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 (291 hp, 262 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Overall length: 196.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,510 lbs pounds
Final assembly: West Point, Georgia
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