By on January 14, 2019

Image: Kia Motors

Is it possible to be more American that a Kia Telluride? Probably not. Clint Eastwood drove one in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. John Rambo rolled into a small, Northwestern town behind the wheel of one shortly after his repatriation. John Wayne owned two, and the Telluride was the first vehicle to storm Omaha Beach. From its exhaust pipes come clouds of red, white, and blue.

Folks, this vehicle is more American than a bald eagle eating apple pie on July 4th. It is the three-row SUV that rowed across the Potomac to get to a dealership near you, and don’t you forget it.

Of course, Tellurides are not yet appearing in showrooms, but that will change before the end of the year. When it arrives, Kia customers will already know the Telluride was Made For America™.

Designed in America (at the Kia Design Center in Irvine, CA.) and slated for production in America (at Kia’s West Point, Georgia assembly plant), the Telluride unveiled (for the second time) today at the North American Auto Show had one group of buyers in its crosshairs since day one: You, your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. You wanted a boxy, imposing SUV that oozes brawn and machismo and the can-do spirit that built this great land. You wanted a rugged steed to transport your significant other and up to six of your kids over varying terrain, in all weather. You think the Sorento is too small.

How could Kia not listen?

With the Telluride, Kia plugs a man-sized hole in its product lineup, and does so as sister division Hyundai does the same with its three-row Palisade. A large, three-row crossover or SUV is no longer a nice-to-have for volume automakers seeking continued profitability in a world that shuns cars. And so the Telluride goes to work.

Boasting a body that, in Kia’s own words, is “big, bold, and boxy,” the Telluride sources its power from a direct-injection 3.8-liter V6, good for 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It takes a big standard engine to move all that patriotism, after all. Handling the shifting duties is an eight-speed automatic.

Image: Kia

It’s not a spartan conveyance, either, despite Kia’s emphasis on the word “rugged.” Kia aimed to convey the vehicle’s semi-premium interior feel through its exterior sheetmetal, though the level of content found within depends on where your vehicle lies on the trim ladder. LX, EX, S, and SX are your choices, with each donning different hats.

First off, all-wheel drive is not an absolute necessity for Telluride buyers. Spring for it, or not. Either way, you’ll look like you’re ready to tackle the trail, as a rear skid plate with integrated exhaust tips comes standard on all but the base model. EX and SX buyers have the option of adding self-levelling rear suspension to their features list. Towing capacity stands at “up to” 5,000 pounds.

As for those who spring for AWD, Kia wants its system to mimic a rough-and-tumble 4WD system, sans transfer case. In addition to Smart, Eco, Sport and Comfort modes, two extra drive settings join the fray to handle messier road conditions: Snow and Lock. Like Comfort, Snow ensures an 80-20 front/rear traction split, while Lock sees the electro-hydraulic system dole out equal measures of power to all four corners. Moving the selector to Sport delivers a 65-35 split, helping Telluride drivers give the kids a thrill.

If you’ve just rescued a hostage from a remote mountaintop locale, rest assured that Downhill Brake Control is on board to ensure a controlled escape.
Image: Kia

While Kia hasn’t specified what features to expect for each trim, the list of standard and available safety features runs the gamut and includes some gear not found anywhere else in the brand. In the “standard” category is: anti-lock braking and electronic stability control (of course), downhill brake control, hill-start assist, forward collision warning, driver attention warning, Smart Cruise with stop-and-go, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane departure assist, safe exist assist, rear occupant alert, and rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist.

Available features include a surround-view monitor, blind spot view monitor, high beam assist, parking distance warning, Highway Driving Assist (Kia’s attempt at easing long-distance drives with a smidge of autonomy), as well as Talk Mode and Quiet Mode, which aims to connect and separate the front seat and rear rows, respectively. A telematics system allows all Telluride owners to start and lock/unlock their vehicle from the comfort of their home, while EX and SX owners can pre-heat the cabin to a desired temp in the same manner.

Up front, available niceties include a 10.25-inch touchscreen, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, a head-up display, and wireless charging. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity comes standard, as does five USB plug-ins (you can add a sixth for extra dough, as well as the ability to sync two Bluetooth-enabled devices.

In the comfort category, double-stitched and quilted Napa leather exists as an option to satisfy the demands of tony derrières. Brushed metal or wood trim abounds, depending on trim level and customer preference. As for third-row passengers, they’ll be allowed to recline, making the trip to Yellowstone a whole lot easier for the driver (Kia doesn’t offer a sliding glass partition between front and rear seats).

What’s the damage to your wallet for all of this Korean red-blooded American acreage? Kia’s not saying, preferring to leave the trim details and pricing a mystery until closer to the SUV’s on-sale date.

[Images: Kia Motors, Tim Healey/TTAC]

 

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89 Comments on “2020 Kia Telluride: One Word, Folks – ‘America’...”


  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    This new Borrego is going to be just about everywhere. I can’t wait to honk at one to move forward in the Starbucks line in 2 years.

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    OMG!! Kia outCadillaced Cadillac!! is this what the xt6 should have looked like? I mean this definately looks like a Caddy. But nicer:(

  • avatar
    wooootles

    This is what the Cadillac XT6 would have looked like if it debuted in 2016

  • avatar

    And about time too! This will work, and will sell well. The Yukon looks up front don’t mesh too well with the… interesting design choices at the back though. I don’t have a problem with the rest of the design, aside from those weird rear lamps.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Explorer over this everyday.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Sad to say but these days, I’d bet on Korean long term reliability over Ford’s any day. But I’d be inclined to agree, I prefer the Explorer’s exterior styling and RWD underpinnings.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        build quality will probably be better as well…and you won’t be driving a fleet vehicle. Although the new Explorer is growing on me , this looks better.Somehow Ford made a RWD car look FWD and Kia did the opposite.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I dunno, the Explorer is one of the more common fleet vehicles around, between the rentals I’ve had, all of the ones in the fleet at work, I’d say they’re neck and neck with the Koreans with fleet-stuffing (Koreans more so on rentals, less gov/company fleet). A poke around a ’16 Explorer Limited pressed into fleet service was not encouraging (broken third row mechanism, various broken interior plastic covers and bits). I’m not a fanboy of either brand, and frankly Toyota has been as bad as anyone about easily broken interior plastic bits as of late. It just all sucks.

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    What are those two looped shaped things straddling the console?

  • avatar

    Also, I want to point out that Kia needs to revise and/or delete its badge from its vehicles. Just have it say Telluride in script, and then a lil tiny Kia badge in the grille, like Land Rover does. You do not need that garbage badge front and center at the front and rear.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Slap the Korean market badges on it and know one will know what it is.

      I noticed there is an Optima turbo locally that someone has KDMed up. Always makes me do a double take.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Corey: Come,on. Stinger, Soul, Niro, Sedona and earlier the Rondo and Borrega. Kia is a completely acceptable badge to those who value substance over alleged prestige.

      • 0 avatar

        @Arthur

        Counterpoint: Which of those things you just listed were targeted at middle and upper-middle class housewives? It won’t take long to come up with a tally.

        This is a new segment for them, and there are different rules for it.

        “…badge to those who value substance over alleged prestige.”

        Which is not who they’re after.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Unless they nuke all their dealers and start fresh the badge presentation isn’t going to matter. If Dodge is Wal-Mart then Kia is a flea market.

          I like their products, but once the price goes over $30K, Kia only works as a value play.

          • 0 avatar

            We are agreed on dealers. Theirs are only slightly better than Mazda.

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            Fortunately, I’ve only had one interaction with the Kia service department – I had my daughter’s 2012 Forte Koup in on Friday, to have the airbag control module recall done. No complaints – it was done in an hour (you just have to R&R the center console to get access), and it turns out that they just install some kind of adapter harness inline, instead of replacing the module. Maybe it was a pinout problem, solved by the new harness?

            She’s on her back to college today, a six-hour drive.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Corey:
          1) Based on your comments, the Kia dealer experience in Canada must be much different than that in the USA. And perhaps also the perception of the marque. Much like VW is viewed differently in Canada than in the USA.
          2) As to markets/sales, based only on my Ontario market experience. Rondo: middle class families and seniors. Sorento middle class families. Niro middle class families. Soul 2nd or 3rd car for middle to upper middle class families, 2nd car for seniors, and 1st car for urban hipsters. Stinger: young professionals to middle class ‘senior car enthusiasts’. So your assumption is most likely not quite correct.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The Sedona and Sorento are targeted at middle and upper-middle class housewives; and would also include the Stinger for those who want something more exciting w/ more utility than a 4-door sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I had a great experience with my 2011 base model Forte LX. Entirely reliable cheap, comfortable transport. I would buy another Kia in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Cadillac has no reason to exist, nor does Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM), when this thing is designed and built in the U.S.A., with approximately 70% more American-produced/sourced parts than the average GM vehicle.

    Hell, Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) is rapidly increasing the number of Chinese and Mexican assembled,of mostly foreign parts, vehicles (Envision/Invasion) that it’s importing into the U.S.A. from foreign, exotic production zones.

    That this thing will be 30% less expensive than a comparable Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) vehicle (it actually looks better inside and out than through pricier Clackilac XT6/Chevy Traverse Rebadge), and 300% more reliable, is the frosting on Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM’s) grave.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      My Dad (Baby-Boomer) sometimes struggles with my take that I would be happier to drive a KIA/Hyundai/Toyota/Nissan built in a factory in the USA than a “American Brand” constructed in Mexico or somewhere else.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Perhaps because supporting an American company is better than supporting a foreign company. Even those built in Mexico have a high U.S. parts content. You’re spending your money with a company that has its base of operations here, and has far more American employees than non-American companies.

        But, the Camry is an AMERICAN CAR! Which is why Toyota said import tariffs would raise its price by $2k+.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          And FCA? ‘murican?

          What is “more” American? A Ford built in Mexico or a Toyota built in Texas? A Jeep Renegade built in Italy?

          I have come to the realization that using terms like “American Car” is pretty obsolete in the “Global Economy” era.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          How about supporting the workers, John?

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit33

            Dan, which group of workers is more valuable to the US economy, and therefore which should I be supporting:

            Hyundai (sorry, couldn’t find Kia numbers quickly) directly employs 4,116 employees and 1,083 Hyundai affiliate partner employees, for a total of 5,199 (http://hyundaiamerica.us/hyundais-u-s-operations-contribute-more-than-94000-private-sector-jobs-and-total-impact-of-7-billion-to-national-economy/)

            In 2017, GM employed over 100,000 people in the US with about an equal split between salaried and hourly employees (https://www.statista.com/statistics/741381/employees-of-general-motors-by-in-us/).

            My company is a significant supplier to both GM and Hyundai. Hyundai design, engineering and purchasing are done in Korea. In fact, we build over 3 million parts for them every year…of course through our Korean joint venture company located, you guessed it, in Korea. GM design, engineering and purchasing done in Michigan, USA. Pretty clear to me that the place of manufacture is only a small piece of the puzzle.

            The Hyundai study, paid for by Hyundai, btw, concludes that they have contributed to over 94,000 private sector jobs in the US (an 18:1 ratio). Using that same ratio for GM would mean that GM contributes upwards of 1.8 million jobs to the US economy. I think I’ll stick with trying to support GM and Ford and FCA, thank you very much.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “the place of manufacture is only a small piece of the puzzle.”

            Unless you are one of the people being laid off.

            “I think I’ll stick with trying to support…”

            That’s certainly your right, but I’m not going to be supporting GM.

            If they start building the Blazer here and stop importing Chinese-built things for the American market I’m willing to change my mind. But, I’m drawing the line somewhere and the recent plant closures and product allocations did it for me.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            H/K actually do some design (for example, the Telluride was designed here) and engineering work in the US, altho for the latter, it’s mostly tuning/calibration work and testing of prototypes.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I’ve always wanted to frost a grave. Frosting GM’s would be amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      JoDa

      The new NAFTA agreement still makes Mexico the best choice to manufacture. Chinese parts shipped to Mexico for assembly is made far less likely as well.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Compare this to GM’s Cad XT6. ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    Mr.EpMini9

    Great job by Kia. If this had the Genesis name, it would annihilate Lincoln and Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      wooootles

      Hot take. Genesis isn’t annihilating anything.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        No kidding. It’s like Timex started making $600 watches, and then tried selling them in high-end jewelry stores. Good luck with that.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          That is rather ironic and demonstrates how brand image can change. In the late 19th to the mid 20th century American watches were considered superior to European watches in regards to reliability. Perhaps peaking with the Bulova Accutron, which ironically helped to doom the American watch industry by introducing ‘electric’ watches as replacements for mechanical movements.

          The reason that American watches were so highly regarded is due to the requirement for a reliable watch in order to ensure railway safety. A demanding standard was set by the American Railroad Association for railroad chronometers/watches, following a devastating train disaster.

          As per Wikipedia: “The Waltham Watch Company and the Elgin Watch Company were both used as early as the 1860s and 1870s [4][5] as railroad standard watches. Later, Hamilton Watch Company, Illinois Watch Company and many of the other American watch manufacturers all produced railroad-grade watches.

          The Time Signal Service of the United States Naval Observatory was used to ensure accuracy of railroad chronometers and schedule American rail transport.”

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Great historical point. As a recovering watchaholic I concur and appreciate your noting the irony of the Accutron.

          • 0 avatar
            conundrum

            Darn right, Arthur. US pocket watches starting in the 1850s were mechanical marvels. The Swiss couldn’t match them in the 1870s, because they hadn’t invented incredible custom production machinery to make tiny precision gears and screws – they were stuck with hand-made, as were the Brits.

            I have a small collection of old Walthams and Elgins, and a lot of literature about the manufacturing miracle that supported their production. They’re top quality items and the manufacturing prowess they demonstrated then is unknown by the general populace today.

            Locomotives and blacksmith production quality in the 1850s makes those old watches look like goods supplied by aliens from outer space. It was as if people from the distant future were living in time-warped rural communities in New England and Illinois making unobtanium goods.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Seiko makes watches that go all the way up to $600k.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Well, the Genesis sedan/G80 was beating its Japanese competition – the GS and Q70.

        Right now, sales are way down b/c its dealer network is in flux.

        Genesis has its own (RWD-based) crossovers on the way, so the Telluride )and Palisade) are fine being H/K’s Pilot, Highlander, Traverse, Ascent, etc. competitors.

    • 0 avatar
      DEVILLE88

      Don’t think so, but a great effort and really nice. Im tempted to buy it and put a Cadillac badge on it. yeah!!!! slapped Cadillac?…..I just did!!

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    It’s so macho that its taillights look like a fu manchu. ‘merica!

  • avatar
    65corvair

    It needs a different name.

  • avatar
    2manycars

    “Designed in America (at the Kia Design Center in Irvine, CA.)”

    Whatever else Commiefornia is at this point, it is not part of America.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    In case anyone was wondering, this is transverse-FWD-based. It is related to the Hyundai Palisade, and is not on a RWD-based Genesis platform. I’ve noticed several people asking on other sites, because Kia kind of buried that fact in the press release.

    • 0 avatar
      wooootles

      Kia probably kinda figured no one cares, aside from the 3 or 4 people on car blog comments sections.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Ding, ding, ding!

        Nobody in the mass market for this gives a flying damn about FWD-based. At all.

        (Hell, *I* don’t care, either.

        I’d buy a FWD-based full-size pickup with a hybrid system and electric rear wheel motors, and be glad to have 4WD without a transfer case or driveshaft!)

    • 0 avatar
      Kita Ikki

      In general, if the front disc brake caliper is ahead of the axle, it’s FWD-based. If the caliper is behind the axle, it’s RWD-based.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    K900? Cadenza? Sedona? Stinger? Niro? Equus? Azera? Veloster? Tiburon? Ioniq? Kona? Genesis sedan? Genesis Sports coupe? G80? G90? G70?

    Another year, another H/K product thats supposed to take the world by storm. The TTAC circle jerk continues.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Genesis G70 – Motor Trend COTY, Car & Driver Best10 List, NAIAS COTY, etc.

      Kona/Kona EV – NAIAS UOTY

      So, hardly just a TTAC “circle jerk.”

      And not just limited to the US/NA as Hyundai was awarded Top Gear’s Manufacturer of the Year.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      H/K has taken my world by storm, for one.

      I’m on my 6th vehicle of theirs (4 for us, 2 for sons) since 2009. Two were bought brand new, the others used from 15k to 138k miles.

      In order:
      01 Elantra (138k to 201k miles). This beater car sold me on the brand.
      09 Sedona (18k to 125k+ miles, still on the road)
      11 Sonata (15k to 83k+ miles, still on the road)
      13 Optima Hybrid (new to 81k+ miles, still on the road)
      07 Sonata (78k to 110k+ miles, still on the road)
      19 Ioniq EV (new, 2 months old)

      We’ve had pretty good service from all of these cars, and they’re cheap to maintain. I’ve owned some turds in 39 years (including Ford, Honda, VW), and none of these H/K cars are that.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Washington crossed the Delaware, this thing will cross the Potomac on a drawbridge. Back to gargling maple syrup and scratching your heirloom flannel underwear for you.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Do you have any specifics on what will be different on the Telluride from the Palisade?

    I’m expecting it to mostly be the same with some visual differences. Kia tends to be a bit cheaper so I wondered if they pulled anything significant.

    I’ll likely end up with one of the two by the end of this year (Explorer will be too expensive)

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    The styling on this thing is pretty bad IMHO. just looks to try to go BIG! Big! Big! Hey! I’m big! The tail lamps make the rear look droopy.

    Interior looks nice.

    Can someone please try again to explain to me why Kia exists though? We knock other companies for Lexus-ified Camry’s and Fords but near as I can tell Kias are literally just Hyundai’s with a different badge and front and rear styling.

    The fact that Kia brand image stinks terribly doesn’t help. We’re not keeping some well known brand alive here. Anything a Kia does a Hyundai does equally well and at least comes with a somewhat respectable badge.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      This. I have never understood the “value” proposition between H and K.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      As far as I am concerned, styling is the only differentiator. I prefer the Kia design language over Hyundai’s by a long shot. Hyunadai also forgot to field a Soul analog, and to their detriment!

    • 0 avatar
      aquaticko

      Kia isn’t just a brand of Hyundai, though. They were forcibly merged by the South Korean government after the ’97 Asian financial crisis, and over time, Kia has bought back its ownership from Hyundai such that Hyundai now control ~33% of Kia’s stock. In turn, Kia own substantial shares of Hyundai group companies, in a relationship which is very representative of the chaebol (Korean business conglomerates) generally speaking.

      It’s be more accurate to say that both Hyundai and Kia (and Genesis) are now “brands” of the Hyundai chaebol than to say that Kia is a brand of Hyundai Motors. I think at this point, their continued coexistence points to the inefficiency of multiple companies designing completely different from-the-ground-up products for the exact same markets. They maintain differences in product only to the extent that their images require or can justify it, and otherwise split engineering costs and get twice as many products out of the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Hyundai and Kia share drivetrain and suspension components, but that’s about where the similarity ends. They are not badge-engineered vehicles, and they share no interior or exterior parts or body panels.

      Hyundai and Kia also do not have any overlap in certain segments. There is no Hyundai equivalent for the Niro, Soul, Sedona, or Stinger for instance, and no Kia equivalent for the Kona or Ioniq line.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I see this as a viable Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota Highlander alternative. EPA fuel economy ratings are gonna matter…they better be good. I wish Kia well with it, a great effort.

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    Great… Now make sure its priced reasonably for the market and get this platform over to your Genesis people (for less reasonable pricing). Have them dial it up a few notches and get it out on the market ASAP. It’s the only way Genesis is going to make it.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Why doesn’t Chrysler offer something like this? FCA needs to show some love to its namesake brand, and this type of vehicle would be a good fit.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Judging by the styling, they squarely targeted the BMW X7. The Kia will probably be $30K less expensive.

  • avatar
    Detroit33

    Well, yes, I guess you could cherry pick those two relatively obscure lines from that comment to make a specious point rather than looking at the bigger picture, which was my only point.

    I do agree with you, though, in that I am not happy at all with GMs recent decisions regarding layoffs in the US while investing in Mexico and China and I refuse to buy a vehicle made in either locale. Both of my vehicle purchases this year were from Ford: an Explorer Sport and an F150. Note that the 2.7 and 10 speed is a great combo in the F150!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’d consider this vehicle if my station in life were different. Most of the kids are gone now, and I’m trying to keep the minivan as long as possible. Not sure I need another tank in my fleet.

  • avatar

    I was talking to a Ford designer at the Detroit show about the Telluride being a surprisingly derivative design considering Kia’s Peter Schreyer has been pretty good at getting uniquely styled cars out of their studio. The Telluride has a GM inspired grille and Expedition inspired turn signals.

    David Woodhouse, Ford’s head of styling, was getting photographed in a Lincoln Navigator and I asked him, “Is it hard to make an SUV elegant?” He smiled and nodded. “But then the Bentley sets a very low bar,” I said. “And Rolls-Royce as well,” he replied.

  • avatar
    Keith Tomas

    I hate crossovers.

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