Gussied Up 2020 Kia Telluride Debuts for New York Fashion Week

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gussied up 2020 kia telluride debuts for new york fashion week

Two years after the concept’s debut in Detroit, the “production” 2020 Kia Telluride appeared during New York City’s Fashion Week festivities this past weekend.

Fashion is not a subject this author is particularly familiar with. While I know that a button-up and suit jacket serves me better than an oversized Space Jam t-shirt, the reasons why remain a complete mystery. I just know that people are less likely to ask me to leave their establishment when I’m wearing a tie.

Be that as it may, I am savvy enough to know that Fashion Week is a strange locale in which to introduce a new vehicle. However, fashion designer Brandon Maxwell convinced Kia to donate to his childhood school district in Marfa, Texas, in exchange for the opportunity to showcase the automaker’s giant, unibody SUV. Created by Kia’s American design studio in Irvine, California, the customized Telluride that appeared on the runway drew influence from Texas (where everything is bigger). Fittingly, that was also Maxwell’s inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2019 collection — which I’m told is “fabulous.”

While Kia sponsored the event and planted its new crossover vehicle center stage, the focus remained on fashion. Fortunately, Brandon Maxwell’s designs didn’t stray into ludicrous costumes. These were flattering, yet normal-looking clothes that could be worn by actual people attending an upscale picnic — not some fashion experiment. The distinct absence of lace masks and bird feathers was a monumental relief for me, as I had spent the entire weekend doing my utmost to avoid such distractions.

Meanwhile, the Telluride, which served as a backdrop for the event, was tarted up to resemble a saddle or some other horse-related accessory. That decision had everything to do with Maxwell’s nostalgia for his childhood in Texas and Kia’s assertion that the eight-passenger vehicle was equipped to handle rough-and-tumble play.

The SUV, which came equipped with a roof rack, winch, and snorkel, certainly looked the part. But beneath the pointless hiking gear and leather mirror caps, you could see the automaker’s earnest attempt to provide a luxurious and sizable automobile. Kia claims the Telluride is a few inches longer and wider than the Sorento, but stopped short of providing specific details. All it said with any certainty was that it would have a V6.

That’s why I’m going to stop myself from calling this an official debut. Kia provided us with a production model, but it’s not indicative of what will eventually populate dealer lots.

Imagine if someone asked you to tell them what you thought of their new cocktail dress. But, when they came out to show you, they were also wearing a pair of combat boots, fringed leather gloves, and a cowboy hat. That was the Telluride debut in a nutshell.

Looking past the camping accessories and Texas theme, you can see that the Telluride is a relatively handsome automobile. However, gone are the concept’s headlamps, grille, rounded lines, and suicide doors. It’s definitely not as easy on the eyes as the original draft, but it probably was never going to be, either. The Telluride still draws heavily from the concept; Kia just squared off the rounded edges and rounded the edges that were square.

The tailgate is a perfect example. On the concept, the rear hatch was nearly vertical, but Kia has tilted the top half forward slightly to meet the roof. It’s a small change, but the SUV dropped into the middle of Fashion Week came loaded with little changes like that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the manufacturer made a few more minor alterations before the vehicle actually entered production. It just looks slightly unfinished, like Kia ran out of time to properly translate the concept into something dealers could sell and the factory could build. Either way, it’ll be an important vehicle for Kia and one of the largest crossovers in its class.

Assembly is slated to begin in Georgia later this year, with the real 2020 Kia Telluride arriving in showrooms near the start of 2019.

[Images: Kia]

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  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Sep 10, 2018

    Too bad this thing is suffering from Lincoln Continental: Concept to Production Syndrome. What happened to the really nice dash-to-axle ratio and short front overhang from the concept? That was the one truly nice and interesting detail on the Telluride concept.

    • See 1 previous
    • Bd2 Bd2 on Sep 11, 2018

      @Kyree That speculation was in error over a report that Kia is considering doing a RWD CUV. The current G80/G90/K900 architecture is unsuitable for CUV-duty due to weight. Any Kia RWD CUV would be based on the new platform underpinning the next gen G80 and GV80 CUV.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Sep 11, 2018

    I kinda like the spare tire carrier. There's an older Grand Cherokee that lives near me with something similar on the back of it. No cheesy leather straps though... I was recently in the market for a used SUV and ONLY looked at RWD-biased vehicles, under the premise that transmissions and drivetrains for truck-based vehicles should, in theory, hold up better than components that were originally designed for sedans. We'll see how that plays out.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.