Our 2020 Kia Telluride Appeals to Both Hearts and Minds

Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
From the car and driver
30,000 mile update
People usually buy three-row crossovers out of necessity rather than desire. You have a lot of kids, or a lot of things, or a medium amount of children and a medium amount of things, all of which put together an extra large SUV. Nobody buys a large family SUV because it's fun to drive, because for the most part, they're not.
But in the class of spacious three-row models that include the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot, the Kia Telluride is surprising and pleasantly pleasant to drive. It drives with looser suppleness and curves with better manners than most of its peers. (The Mazda CX-9 is the other impressive outlier in its class.) Our long-term Telluride SX AWD model also appeals to our irrational brains by indulging its occupants with an interior that feels more expensive than its price tag of 47,590 US dollar suggests.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
With more than 30,000 miles on the Telluride's odometer, our employees are just as excited about the big Kia as we were when we put it on our 10Best list in autumn 2019. It's a pragmatic people carrier and a serious value, and its general dynamics are far better than the competition demands. "The Telluride sums up the three-row SUV basics: comfortable, spacious and, as a bonus, far more luxurious than the price suggests," Dave VanderWerp, head of vehicle inspection, recently stated in the logbook.
In times of ubiquitous inline quad bikes with turbochargers, the Telluride's 3.8-liter V-6 is a refreshing, naturally drawn in breath of fresh air. There's enough torque on the lower end to slide through city traffic, and the V-6 feels strong and polished as it spins towards its redline when you hit the accelerator pedal to hit the freeway. It's a great motor that feels perfect for this application, and yet it's probably one of the few things we'd change if we could wave a magic wand and find our way. Our drivers dream of a Telluride that is faster than its 7.0 second run from zero to 60 mph, which is more indicative of how spoiled we are than any flaw in this Kia. "Aside from the lack of extra power that no one really needs, the Telluride is a joy to drive," said Austin Irwin, Associate Web Editor.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
Since our last update, we've put our long-term Telluride through the freeway and freeway fuel economy test. Over 200 miles at a constant speed of 75 mph, the Telluride averaged 27 MPG and exceeded its EPA highway rating by 3 MPG. Given the weight of this 3-row SUV of 4,507 pounds and the aerodynamic properties of a school bus, we're impressed. But if we don't do our objective tests, we'll drive harder and faster. The Telluride has averaged 21 mpg so far, which is what we see in the competition in this class. If you want that 27 mpg you have to work for it.
At this point in a long term test, the only thing that could sink a vehicle as popular as the Telluride is a major mechanical failure. However, it has been another 10,000 miles without drama since our last update. We paid $ 195 for 30,000 mile scheduled maintenance that included an oil change, replacement engine and cabin air filters, and a tire rotation. If that sounds steep, at least the dealer gave us an invaluable service. During the visit, the technician discovered a nail in the right rear tire and repaired the flat tire before we got stuck or stuck on the shoulder. Not this time, universe.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
The 40,000 mile finish line is now in sight for our Kia Telluride. During this test, we were aware of its worth, dynamic virtues, and accommodating interior. Now we know that it has impressive fuel economy and is mechanically robust. The cabin appears to withstand our use and abuse without undue wear and tear. We fell in love with the Telluride because it captured our hearts. We thrive in this long-term relationship because it is a sensible choice too.
Months in the fleet: 14 months Current mileage: 33,715 miles
Average fuel economy: 21 mpg
Fuel tank size: 18.8 gallons Observed fuel range: 390 miles
Service: $ 632 Normal wear and tear: $ 0 Repair: $ 0
Damage and Destruction: $ 1618
Show technical data
20,000 mile update
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
If you want to objectively measure the popularity of a long-term vehicle among our employees, all you need to do is read the odometer and view a calendar. In about 10 months our 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD earned 23,953 miles. Averaging over 500 miles a week, it's a staple of the cool kids' game.
We should point out that large SUVs and trucks in our long-term fleet tend to earn miles faster than smaller vehicles. Editors tend to snag the keys to these more roomy road-going vehicles with family and Fido (and possibly a boat or couple of snowmobiles) in tow. The gigantic Kia has a built-in advantage here, but even with vehicles of similar size, it's an office favorite.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
With our coronavirus-ridden commutes, errands, and vacations, we - like most Americans - drive less these days. But the Kia is in demand with editors who venture beyond their local grocery store. Technical writer David Beard towed a side-to-side UTV journey over 400 miles to northern Michigan and back. "The Telly pulled the 3,000-pound package with no drama," he summarized.
There is room for improvement, however. The factory towing connection only contains a four-pin electrical connection. That is why Bart and photo assistant Charley Ladd installed a seven-pin trailer plug and connected a Bluetooth trailer brake control before the journey. The Telluride also lacks a dedicated Trailer Tow mode, and the transmission struggled to maintain a gear when traveling at 80 mph. Beard resorted to manual shift mode. He kept the eight-speed automatic in seventh gear while driving and selected sixth or fifth gear for climbs and descents. Its speed and load lowered the 3.8-liter V-6's fuel economy to 13 mpg - not bad, but not great either - compared to our running average of 20 mpg.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
Beard's friend enjoyed the convenience of the Telluride from the second row while driving, working on her laptop while it was plugged into the 120-volt outlet. “Nice workspace,” she said, but Beard points out that a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot is one of the few items missing from the Telluride SX's long list of features.
Senior Editor Joey Capparella folded the second and third rows of the Telluride to travel to neighboring Ohio to get furniture for his new apartment. "I will have a hard time decorating it as beautifully as the Telluride's cabin," wrote Capparella in the logbook. "This vehicle is so comfortable and desirable."
We've long relied on the Korean brands to supply valuable cars and crossovers, but the must-have factor that Capparella is alluding to makes the Telluride different than any Kia before. More than halfway through the 40,000 mile test, the Telluride's exterior design and interior can still surprise and impress us, as it did the first time. "More than any other auto company, Kia has found that giving customers more car than expected is an all-conquering formula. The Telluride is proof," said deputy editor Rich Ceppos.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
The Telluride continues to impress us with its reliability. From the point of view of durability, it remains flawless. Since the last update, we've taken 15,000 and 22,500 miles to the dealer for oil changes, tire spins, and new air filters at $ 120 and $ 156, respectively. We made an additional stop at the dealer between these service appointments to perform an infotainment system update that is under warranty and fixes a speech recognition issue we didn't have.
A cracked windshield is the only major crap we've seen so far. The upside is that we now have the knowledge to warn owners and potential buyers that a Telluride windshield is really expensive. It cost $ 1,480 at a local glass store to replace and install, plus an additional $ 138 paid to the dealer to recalibrate the driver assistance camera mounted behind the rearview mirror. It's the only time that this Kia hasn't felt like an absolute bargain. We have already forgotten.
Months in the fleet: 10 months Current mileage: 23,953 miles
Average fuel economy: 20 mpg
Fuel tank size: 18.8 gal. Observed fuel range: 370 miles
Service: $ 437 Normal wear and tear: $ 0 Repair: $ 0
Damage and Destruction: $ 1618
10,000 mile update
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
There comes a time in life when you need to acknowledge your shortcomings. And with our 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD crossing the 14,000 mile mark, now is the time for us.
Try as we can, we can't find much to criticize about our moss green Kia long term. Perhaps this is not seen as a defect in the real world. Other people we've met seem perfectly happy to be happy. However, we are critics. It is our job - no, our nature - to criticize.
As a rule, new vehicles offer ample opportunity for complaints. The view to the outside stinks. The engine is weak and sounds like a horse's fart. The seat heaters are too slow to warm our rolls. If we don't have anything big to criticize, we can usually find something small. If we can't find something small, we can usually find something trivial. With the Telluride, however, we are amazed.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
We would like to thank the test director Dave VanderWerp for the playful criticism of this 10Best winner, a three-row family SUV that dominated a group test. All the other employees just threw up their hands. And assistant editor Tony Quiroga has maintained a love affair with the Telluride that borders on dizzying infatuation.
It is not for a lack of miles that we pile on at breakneck speed. The Telluride is in great demand, from the shuttle at lunchtime to the companion for family outings. With approximately 11,000 miles on the clock, VanderWerp took the Telluride with his wife and children for a 1,300 mile weekend getaway to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Here's what he came up with for complaints:
The rear wiper wash needs a wider spray pattern to clean the rear window. Instead, it just shoots a stream of liquid into the center of the backlight.
When you press the rear climate button, you have to go to the touchscreen to customize it. Honda allows the front climate buttons to control the rear settings in this scenario.
The tailpipes slide to one side of the tail, which for other makes of vehicles indicates that you've opted for the base engine. (Currently only one motor is offered in the Telluride).
Not bloody stuff there. VanderWerp praised again, although he tried to criticize. The average fuel economy on his trip was better than the EPA highway label (25 mpg versus 24 mpg), even though the cruising speed was 80 mph. It's comfortable, quiet, and pretty. There is excellent passenger and cargo space. There is plenty of storage space in the front seating area. The front seats are supportive enough to stay comfortable after many hours in the saddle. You understand what it is about.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
Nothing went wrong with the vehicle either. So that's a whole area of ​​potential sniping neutralization. Our only visit to the dealer this quarter was for a 7,500 mile service. At $ 161, this service included typical oil changes, tire rotations, cabin air filter replacement, and routine inspections.
In mid-November, with around 10,000 miles on the odometer, we replaced the original all-season tires with a set of Continental VikingContact 7 winter tires (yes, they are actually called “VikingContact”). It has been an unusually mild and dry winter so far, so we have not yet had the opportunity to test the effectiveness of the winter rubber on snow and ice. But - if you didn't know - the winter tires are, according to VanderWerp, "admirably quiet for winter tires and don't feel too muddy on dry roads".
We failed. The Telluride has not.
Months in the fleet: 5 months Current mileage: 14,013 miles
Average fuel economy: 21 mpg
Fuel tank size: 18.8 gallons Observed fuel range: 390 miles
Service: $ 161 Normal Wear: $ 0 Repair: $ 0
Damage and Destruction: $ 0
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
At first glance, it was clear that the 2020 Kia Telluride would be a competitor in the hotly contested class of midsize three-row SUVs. The big Kia just sat on a car stand and was present. The smooth, disciplined lines. The refined detailing. The Chevy and Volkswagen shameful interior. The Telluride is an example of the old saw that building an attractive vehicle is no more expensive than building an unattractive one.
Our goodwill towards Kia's newest three-row ute wasn't dulled a bit as we drove and tested her. And we are not alone. We have heard fearful appreciation of the Telluride's excellence from people who work for competing automakers. The only things that we haven't yet confirmed about the Telluride are its reliability and its ability to keep our affections going over the long term. So of course we ordered one from Kia to do the battle on our 40,000 mile long-term test.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
We specified a top-notch SX model for our rating, in part because it comes with effective LED headlights and taillights, beautiful 20-inch wheels, subtle satin chrome bodywork, and a variety of interior features like memory seats , Privacy windows in the second row and heated and ventilated seats. All-wheel drive, which added $ 2,000 to the cost of a Telluride, was a breeze. We also added a $ 795 tow package for the tow bar and self-leveling rear suspension (all Tellurides are designed to pull up to 5000 pounds).
We rounded it all off with the $ 2,000 SX Prestige package, which includes a head-up display, nappa leather upholstery, a high-quality fabric canopy, heated and ventilated seats in the second row, and rain-sensitive windscreen wipers. All of this resulted in the SX model, which starts at $ 44,585, soar to an unreasonable $ 47,590. Considering the features and fittings of the Telluride, this is a bargain in this class. The choice of the green color Dark Moss didn't cost us anything, but it makes our Telluride a nifty looking family transporter.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
The Telluride - and its mechanical twin, the Hyundai Palisade - is powered by a standard 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There is no upgrade engine available. The Kia's V-6 offers less torque than the turbocharged four-cylinder from competitors such as the Mazda CX-9 and Ford Explorer. But in real driving conditions, the Telluride is just as economical as its four-banger competitors and likes to drink normal fuel. Our longtime rider has averaged 21 mpg so far in mixed driving.
On the test track, our Telluride set a run of 7.0 seconds between zero and 60 mph and drove the quarter mile at 93 mph in 15.3 seconds. These are competitive times for the class, and the Telluride's 0.82g skidpad performance and 177-foot stop from 100 km / h are also within the norms.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
The Telluride may not have beaten its competitors on the track, but its daily behavior on the road has made it a staff favorite. It is certainly faster, nicer and more economical than the Volkswagen Atlas, which we also have in our long-term fleet. In fact, printing director Tony Quiroga notes that he "wouldn't want anything if he had a Porsche Boxster Spyder and a Telluride in his garage". The writer of this story couldn't agree more. Deputy Editor Josh Jacquot praised the Telluride's impressive ride quality over pothole gravel roads. "I'm impressed with the Telluride's cushioning," he commented. "It has fantastic individual wheel controls, especially for this class and with 20-inch wheels."
Senior Editor Joey Capparella wrote, "Honestly, I like this interior more than the Range Rover I drove last night." The tasteful, rich-looking cabin also went to Chief Brand Officer Eddie Alterman, who said he kept discussing the ups and downs of the Telluride interior versus those of the Mercedes GLS-Class and then remembers how much more the Mercedes costs.
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver
Chances are we'll find things about this Kia that we don't like. And perhaps the Telluride will break many and annoyingly many times over the next 37,000 miles. But so far the Telluride looks damn good.
Months in the fleet: 1 month Current mileage: 2842 miles
Average fuel economy: 21 mpg
Fuel tank size: 18.8 gal. Observed fuel range: 390 miles
Service: $ 0 Normal wear and tear: $ 0 Repair: $ 0
Damage and Destruction: $ 0
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