By on January 14, 2020

You read here how 2019 was a buoyant year for corporate siblings Hyundai and Kia; both brands posted full-year sales gains, and both can thank new, large crossover vehicles for the added volume. The higher prices demanded by the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride will certainly be appreciated by the automakers’ beancounters, too.

Of the two midsizers, one possesses an enhanced level of gravitas. A little more panache and youth appeal. And it’s no secret which one we’re referring to — which is why an industry rumor has us thinking that an uplevel version is something worth pursuing.

The folks at AutoSpies (via Motor1), citing a cloud of ether, claim a loftier Telluride trim will arrive later this year, bound for 2021 models. Greater customization greets buyers in this spec; apparently, customers will be able to opt for two-tone paint jobs (well, a roof of a different color), snazzier interior treatments, plus an off-road package to butch up the already boxy crossover’s looks. We’re talking things like a pedestrian-scattering brush guard, skid plates, and upgraded rubber, among other possible additions.

So, that’s that. If true, the new addition to the Telluride line would push its trim ladder up another $10,000. A base LX model starts at $33,060 after destination, with the uplevel SX with Prestige Package setting you back more than $45k. This mythical Telluride AutoSpies speaks of would easily top the $50k barrier.

Pricey for anything wearing a Kia badge, but the Telluride is no normal Kia. It’s the biggest Kia, to be sure, but it’s one with visual presence and an unspoken, hard-to-prove street cred. People like the Telluride, and not just auto journos with big mouths and dusty wallets. After coming online in force in March 2019, Telluride closed out the year with 58,604 sales, helping Kia rise to a 4.4-percent annual gain.

The demand is there, and enough worthiness might be there to warrant another rung on the Telluride’s trim ladder. Domestic truck makers seized upon the existing demand for Big Luxury  to turn their full-size offerings into even larger cash cows. Surely, Kia wouldn’t resist an opportunity to boost the model’s margins if it sensed a sufficient pool of customers; no one would fault the company, either, for holding back initially in the interest of gauging demand.

Even a loaded-up Kia in this form could be seen as a value proposition when contrasted with Japanese or German rivals.

Interestingly, the Telluride’s first public appearance (at New York Fashion Week in 2018, of all places) showed the three-row ute festooned with off-road-ready accessories — among them, a snorkel, bumper guard, external spare, and roof ladder.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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28 Comments on “Rumor Mill: High-zoot Kia Sounds Like a Good Idea...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Pricey for anything wearing a Kia badge”

    Only to people who believe the Kia badge isn’t worthy, but then those people wouldn’t buy a Kia at any price. They’d rather pay more for a lesser car with a ‘better’ badge.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      We had a Kia Sedona minivan as a rental some time ago and as I recall it did everything we required it to do, get us there from point A to point B without any issues.

      What Kia wants to do is break through that glass ceiling that shields lesser brands from the luxo brands, and that is a hard sell in “brand-conscious” America.

      Imagine two luxo buyers talking with one guy saying “I just bought a luxo Telluride” to a Land Rover owner……

      Yeah, that’s gonna be a hard sell, even to Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7L 4X4 Summit owners.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        That is one of my cars (5.7 Summit), and it is due for replacement soon. I looked at a Telluride. And I liked the Telluride. Two things (well, three) stopped me from buying one:
        – The Kia dealers that are nearby are known to be greasy, and my visit was no different. MSRP was marked up significantly on the SX.
        – The same dealer also had $1995.00 worth of “dealer add-ons” including paint protection, door edge guard film, etc, which I dont want and would never pay for.
        – The Telluride is quiet and serene, but somewhat slow by standards, especially compared to the 5.7. I suppose that if someone had a less powerful SUV, they might think of the Telluride as fast though.

        For Kia to lure in the higher dollar spenders, they need to change their dealership experience. And it cant happen soon enough.

        • 0 avatar
          eggsalad

          Agree w/SSJeep

          Perhaps KIA ought to consider creating an upscale brand, as Hyundai did with Genesis.

          Folks paying >$50k are unlikely to buy from bottom-feeder sales reps who are used to four-squaring folks with a 580 Beacon score into a $16k Rio.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The most in demand trim for the Telluride is the SX w/ the Prestige Package – so around $45k.

            Kia had to stop taking orders for a while since the delay from order to delivery got to be too long.

            Any SX-P Tellurides that make it to the lot unsold are sold at a premium.

            This isn’t much different from Kia’s experience w/ the TF Optima (2010-2015) where buyers wanted more luxury and amenities so Kia came out w/ the SX-L trim.

            The TF Optima had a higher ATP than the Camry, Altima and Sonata and at times even beat the Accord.

            Kia doesn’t have the financial resources that Hyundai has to launch a separate lux brand and all that entails (they wouldn’t have a full lux lineup that is necessary to support a separate sales channel).

            Having said that, Kia is contemplating doing a lux CUV based on the GV80 (or possibly something a little smaller).

        • 0 avatar
          cprescott

          I’m sorry – but for decades Honduh and Toyoduh dealers have marked up the garbage they were peddling for the same reason – demand. While it is horrible for any dealer to do this, let’s just say that Kia and Hyundai have a hot product and they are merely replicating how Honduh and Toyoduh regularly shafted potential customers.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            your whole post reads “duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh”.

            Considering the source, that’s no surprise.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            As annoying as those days were, at least you got a quality Toyota or Honda product. While imperfect, the law of averages were very much on your side reliability wise.

            Hyundai and Kia are greatly improved over even 10 years ago. It’s been amazing to watch their ascent, and since I’m not a brand snob I would certainly consider their products.

            H/K has a long way to go with their dealer experience. A handful in the Houston area are ok but the majority as still pretty slimy.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Mr. cprescott, your “Honduh and Toyoduh” and shtick was old the first time you tried it. There are many on here who drove their Hondas and Toyota for 100s of thousands of trouble free miles. Yes, I paid dealer mark-up in the 80’s for my Prelude. I’m not the only one on here who paid the ADM for an anvil reliable vehicle. These days I drive a Lexus.

        • 0 avatar
          quaquaqua

          “The Telluride is quiet and serene, but somewhat slow by standards, especially compared to the 5.7.” You’re comparing it to literally the only other vehicle in its class with a V8. Compared to the V6s in the Pilot, Highlander, Traverse, etc. it’s at the top. But it’s also a very quiet V6 so it won’t “feel” fast.

          As for shady Kia dealers, my local Dodge dealer is just as bad last time I was there, but you’re not wrong. Shoutout to Thomas Kia in Highland, Indiana for being absolute slimes!

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @SSJeep: I’ve had experience with 3 Kia dealers, and 2 of them were very good. And one of them is the only place I’ve purchased from twice (a new 13 Optima, and a used 07 Sonata).

          But that 3rd dealer was slimy, and there is certainly enough anecdotal evidence out there to support your point, that the dealer experience needs to catch up in quality to their vehicles.

          But when it comes to slimy dealers, every brand seems to have its share – except maybe Tesla.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            I was four-squared at a proper Mercedes Benz dealership. My wife and I couldn’t believe it, and burst into laughter right in front of the guy. So I’m inclined to believe you, SCE. It depends on the culture of that particular dealership I suppose.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Mr. SSJeep, I say we just call V-8s “American Freedom Engines”. Neener-neener to cubic centimeter taxation!

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Wouldn’t be that much pricier than a good portion of Kia’s lineup.

      Top trim

      K900 – $55.9k
      Stinger GT2 – $52.5k
      Cadenza Limited – $44.1k
      Sorento SX – $41.8k
      Sedona SX – $41.3k

      Doubt the stuff that’s added would equate to $10k, so talking more like somewhere around $50k.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Mr. bd2, how soon until we can buy Kias with a trifecta tune? “The TF Optima had a higher ATP than the Camry, Altima and Sonata and at times even beat the Accord.” Any sourcing for that and your other claims in your other post? Or perhaps your twin buys Buicks.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Can’t find the source (it’s been 7 yrs), but I’ve been saying that 7 years ago, as have other posters here (when it has come to the Camry’s ATP).

          But here’s the link to an article citing the same study (from JD Power) which showed the Camry having the LOWEST ATP.

          “Toyota has raised discounts and cut the Camry’s price in an effort to keep it on top. In early July, the Camry’s average sales price was the LOWEST of the nine top-selling midsize cars, according to data from J.D. Power and Associates obtained by The Associated Press. Discounts on the Camry were among the highest in the segment, according to the data.”

          https://www.nydailynews.com/autos/toyota-camry-fights-remain-america-best-selling-car-article-1.1402870

          The Camry’s ATP at the time was even lower than the Chrysler 200’s.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    How does this compare to Kia’s first attempt at a 3 row SUV, the Borrego? I know unibody versus body-on-frame, FWD-biased versus RWD biased. Is it a more solid effort? I’ve never gotten close enough to a Borrego or Telluride to compare.

    The closest I’ve come was an 05ish Sorento that my friend had.

    • 0 avatar
      cprescott

      Watch Youtube videos. This question has been answered there.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Telluride is widely considered the best 3-row midsize CUV.

      The Borrego didn’t get that kind of acclaim when it debuted, but it was a pretty decent BoF RWD SUV that just had awful timimg (Great Recession, high gas prices), but it still lives on today in other markets as the Mohave – having recently undergone its 2nd more extensive refresh.

      The one thing that the Mohave has over the Telluride is a more premium interior – it’s bona-fide lux whereas the Telluride’s in top trim is more premium (than luxury).

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    Must have twin turbo v6.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I do love that moss green paint and would like the tan interior. That’s a classic color combo.

    I’d want mid trim, center bench, and towing package. But living in the mountains I’d rather have turbo, and more than 40% of the torque able to be sent to the rear wheels.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    Still wondering why anyone cares about this thing. Its just another FWD car based SUV. Dime a dozen and most of the other ones will still be worth something in 5 years unlike this one, or any Kia.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I’d normally be right there with you, regarding FWD car based SUVs, but I have to say the Telluride has real presence, and I distinctly remember doing a double take when I saw my first one on the street. A total, visceral, “what is that” moment. Tip of the hat to Kia’s design team for hitting it out of the park. They created a vehicle that looks expensive (remarkably hard to do) and then blessed it with an actual NAME that’s also evocative of money.

      I’m seeing these everywhere, which says something too because our dealership is still pretty low rent, tucked in next to a highway bridge.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Aren’t Hyundai/Kias the first to land on, or newest cars on any BHPH lot?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Interestingly, the Telluride’s first public appearance (at New York Fashion Week in 2018, of all places) showed the three-row ute festooned with off-road-ready accessories — among them, a snorkel, bumper guard, external spare, and roof ladder”

    Oh its so tough…. wait no its not its just a big Sorento.

    Is it going to demand to use the ladies’ bathroom too?

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