Kia's three-row Telluride SUV deserves its popularity
It's starting to look like Kia really can't do anything wrong. The Korean-American brand has been delivering success on top of success for many years now, from its diminutive Niro to the large-midsize Telluride SUV. There isn't a single weak point in Kia's lineup, and that's good news for value-conscious buyers.
When it was launched in 2019, the Telluride was the largest vehicle Kia had ever offered for sale in the United States. While it's technically a midsize SUV, it's on the large end of midsize, with three generously-sized rows of seating for up to eight passengers. With its pricing starting as low as $32,190, the Telluride is attractive to anyone looking to move people or cargo in comfort.
The sales statistics tell the story. Even though the Telluride went on sale partway through 2019, Kia sold over 50,000 of them. Then even in the face of the pandemic, Kia moved over 75,000 Tellurides in 2020. They're on track to sell even more this year, with 165% year-over-year sales growth in April.
So, what's all the excitement about? In a nutshell, the Telluride is just a really great SUV at an attractive price. But let's unpack that statement. What makes the Telluride a good SUV is its comfortable interior, useful capacity, and good driving experience.
The Telluride has a spacious interior, with separately controllable air conditioning for the rear seats at all trim levels. The seats in the base-trim Telluride are supportive and can be upholstered in a high-quality synthetic leather. The second row is a standard bench seat for three, but captain's chairs are available. If you get the bench seat, it's split for flexibility and features one-touch folding and sliding. The two-passenger third row is also split and they recline as well as folding down.
On the dash, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard, and displays the reverse-camera view. The system supports Android and Apple phone integration as well as Bluetooth connectivity and USB input. The Telluride comes with 5 USB charging ports, as well as three 12-Volt ports.
When it comes to safety and convenience features, the Telluride has standard adaptive cruise control and a rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines. Safety is enhanced with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane keeping and warnings, lane following assistance on curves, rear cross-traffic warnings, and a driver attention warning system. Perhaps best of all for a larger SUV, there's a reverse parking distance warning.
That's all in the most basic trim. Higher trim levels add features like a 10.25-inch screen with navigation, Harman Kardon audio, wireless phone charger, head-up display, blind spot view monitor, and a surround-view camera system. At the top SX trim, the front and second-row seats are heated and ventilated.
Next, there's capacity, up to 87 cubic feet of cargo capacity with all the rear seats folded down. In a typical use case with the second row occupied, there's 46 cubic feet available. Even when you've got all three rows occupied, there's still 21 cubic feet available, which is much larger than most midsize three-row SUVs offer. That's room for sports gear, a shopping trip, or a good-size picnic. The other capacity the Telluride offers is towing. With the 3.8-liter V6 engine, the Telluride can pull up to 5,000 pounds and features a self-leveling rear suspension for comfortable towing.
On the road, the Telluride is a comfortable, confident vehicle. The V6 engine and eight-speed transmission provide plenty of power for a satisfying driving experience, and the Telluride feels solid without feeling too heavy. This is an SUV you can drive every day without feeling as though you're piloting a school bus.
Finally, there's the value. Starting in the low $30,000 range, the Telluride is more affordable than many comparable vehicles, and the most you'll pay for a top trim with all the options checked is just about $50,000. The bottom line is that tens of thousands of SUV buyers are making the switch to Telluride, so if you're shopping for a big people-mover this year, put one of our area Kia dealers on your test-drive list.
2021 Kia Telluride SX
Base price: $44,090
Price as tested: $48,720
Type: Midsize SUV
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 (291 hp, 262 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 19/24
Overall length: 196.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,354 pounds
Final assembly: West Point, Georgia
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