By on March 6, 2020

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD Fast Facts

3.8-liter V6 (291 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 262 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.1 city, 9.9 highway, 13.3 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $43,490 (U.S) / $53,995 (Canada)

As Tested: $46,860 (U.S.) / $56,279 (Canada)

Prices include $1,045 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

My review of the all-new 2020 Kia Telluride last year was mostly positive.

There’s a reason for this – I thought it was pretty damn good. Especially given its price point, and that it was Kia coming up with a very good three-row crossover, seemingly out of nowhere.

Yep, Kia, a brand that hadn’t been a player in this segment since its last attempt, a body-on-frame SUV called Borrego, ran into the economic headwinds of the Great Recession. Kia had help from corporate partner Hyundai – that brand’s Palisade is the more urbane sibling to Telluride – but still, Kia’s reentry to the segment seemed remarkable.

After living with the Telluride for a week as opposed to a day, that remains true.

Kia sent me a top-trim SX with all-wheel drive. Telluride offers just one engine: A 3.8-liter V6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is listed at 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined.

In addition to the all-wheel-drive system, the SX I tested had 20-inch blacked-out wheels replacing the 18-inch wheels found as standard kit on the lower-trim EX, LED headlights and fog lamps, rear sunroof, second-row captain’s chairs, 12-way power driver’s seat, memory for the driver’s seat and side-view mirrors, premium audio, park-distance warning, blind-spot monitoring, surround-view camera, and HomeLink.

2020 Kia Telluride

An optional $2,000 Prestige Package added a head-up display, 110-volt inverter, Nappa leather, premium cloth for the headliner and visors, heated and cooled second-row seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Carpeted floor mats added $210, while a carpeted cargo mat added $115.

With the $1,045 destination price, a vehicle that based at $43,490 reached $46,860.

For that mid-$40K price tag, you get a pretty capable family hauler.

[Get new and used Kia Telluride pricing here!]

The boxy, masculine shape is handsome, and the interior also charms, although I think the Palisade’s cabin is arguably even prettier. Still, the Kia’s controls are laid out logically, with two rows of buttons on the center stack that are easy to use. Even the faux wood trim looks good. Only the tacked-on info display looks out of place – it feels like an afterthought.

2020 Kia Telluride

The V6 is strong enough for both grocery-getting and highway cruising, although there’s too much weight on tap for those who expect truly blazing acceleration. The eight-speed automatic that provided some wonky shifts during the press-launch drive seemed better behaved during my loan.

Firm yet artificial steering feel awaits drivers, and the Telluride’s mass and mission unsurprisingly mean it’s no corner-carver. But it acquits itself well enough – there’s little of the body-roll blues or yacht-like float that tends to afflict full-size three-row crossovers.

That’s one of the Telluride’s strengths, one that it shares with the Palisade. While no one in their right mind expects a three-row crossover to be even in the vicinity of “fun-to-drive”, the Telluride is at least dynamically sound enough to suggest that some other automakers weren’t even trying with their land barges. Yes, the recently redesigned three-row Ford Explorer also acquits itself well on-road, and the also redesigned Toyota Highlander is no slouch. But Kia could’ve just slapped together a soft-roader with family-friendly features, and it didn’t. It gave us a full-size crossover that actually doesn’t totally suck to drive.

2020 Kia Telluride

More importantly, Kia priced it right. Other standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, lane-keep assist, highway-driving assist, park-distance warning for reverse, blind-spot collision assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision avoidance assist, adaptive cruise control, rear occupant alert, safe-exit assist, UVO infotainment, navigation, 10-inch touchscreen, tri-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, front sunroof, and wireless cell-phone charger (these appear to be features standard on EX trims, with the options listed earlier in this review added to or replacing the features on SX trims).

Again, those features and the ones listed above added up to just under $47K. A similarly-equipped Highlander Platinum starts for a grand more, and both the Explorer Limited and Platinum are gonna hit your wallet harder (and the Limited doesn’t offer a gas V6).

2020 Kia Telluride

I’ve driven the Highlander (review forthcoming) and the Explorer, and while both are fine vehicles, I’m hard pressed to figure out why I should pay more for either of them. Kia’s biggest competition comes from the Palisade, of all places, since it’s priced similarly. At least, for Toyota’s sake, the Highlander is somewhat close in pricing, and we’re not even factoring the ever-fluctuating incentives here.

You’ve probably been seeing Tellurides all over your town over the past year. Now you know why.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars]

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60 Comments on “2020 Kia Telluride SX Review – Meeting Expectations...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    I m known for being a H K hater. On paper, the Telluride looks nice. But i have concerns about depreciation and rapid decay of the interiors on this car (like other H K products.)

    I wouldnt have VW product either.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I owned a 2015 Sonata for 60k miles and have just hit 60k on a 2015 Genesis. The interiors were/are almost totally pristine except for a bit of shine on the soft leather steering wheels and some hairline wrinkles in the driver’s seat bolsters. And I have two kids.

      Not sure where this whole “Oh, it’ll look like garbage in 40k” comes from but I’m gathering it’s either outdated or flat out prejudice. I’ll try to reply with a giant pic of my Sonata at 45k, assuming the link gets allowed.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        Here goes! Mods, please let this through if it gets caught:

        http://perisoft.org/sonata-int.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        My BF’s ’18 Elantra has 37K and the interior looks ok although scuffs and such on the cheap lower plastics don’t seem to clean off and the hard plastics scrape up easily. The suspension seems overly harsh over even slightly rough pavement is my biggest complaint. Exterior trim pieces seem very cheap and feel somewhat fragile but that’s probably par for the class. We got a $3k rebate which I looked at making up for the loss of trade in value. And from what I’ve seen in South Jersey this thing won’t be worth much at all come time to trade in.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Hamilton

      Red,
      Your concerns about depreciation are well founded. However, some Hyundai vehicles like the Veracruz are extremely reliable and have interiors that hold up well. The suspension tuning is not up to Toyota standards, but the car is safe, roomy and has surprising owner loyalty. I suspect owners that have held out this long will trade up to the Palisade/Telluride twins.

      • 0 avatar

        “The suspension tuning is not up to Toyota standards”

        And that is the good thing, I had Toyota so I know. But it is not up to VW standards either.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        Greg-
        Some one on another forum did a back to back Kelley Blue Book comparison on a Camry versus Sonata.

        Can’t remember the trade in time (maybe three years?) but the difference between the Hyundai and Toyota was $700.00

        The “resale hit” while true at one time nolonger exists in any great amount.

      • 0 avatar
        cprescott

        Depreciation is usually a double edged sword – for some reason modern Honduh and Toyoduh products which are increasingly less dependable than the cars of the 1990’s and 2000’s command a huge TAX – they are overvalued and not worth buying as a used car. Hyundais and Kia’s which have made significant changes for the better during the same period do lose value (no snob appeal) and are hence superb used car buys.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        “The suspension tuning is not up to Toyota standards…”

        Hyundai gets a higher overall Road Test score from Consumer Reports than Lexus, much less Toyota.

        And in C/D’s 2019 Editors’ Choice list – a long list of Hyundai/Kia/Genesis vehicles but only 2 Toyotas (and no Lexus).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Not sure what products you’re talking about. Just sold my 2013 Optima SXL to a family member. Its interior held up much better than my beloved 2012 G37. H/K spend money where you see it, and really don’t where you don’t. The chassis of that car was just a scaled up economy car and I absolutely hated the way it drove. Seems like H/K is getting better at managing that though.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        sportyaccordy, I got a ’15 Sonata instead of a ’15 Optima SXL (same, older generation as your 2013) specifically for that reason. The previous platform felt loose and not-all-there. The newer platform was way better, maybe one notch more ‘brittle’ than the Accord/Fusion. But it was perfectly fine to drive and even a little bit fun if you knew how to get it to play.

        My ’15 Genesis, OTOH, is absolutely silky smooth.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      I have had a (2017 Limited) Santa Fe XL for almost 3 years. Leather, interior-but not the “lux leather”. It is not showing much in the way of wear. Any “wear” the leather has-is in the same spots as my $50,000.00 Silverado. (basically- the driver’s seat when you slide in and out).

      So-as an owner that’s my experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        3 years…seriously? For the record my 2 year old Fiesta shows no interior wear. I’m not sure on what planet either of those are marks of a quality interior. If I had wear inside of 5 I would probably want it fixed under warranty and would frankly be surprised. My wife’s 17 Hyundai shows no wear, not my 15 F150, nor my 18 year olds 13 Leaf. 2-3 year old cars still looking good isn’t news, it is the expectation.

    • 0 avatar

      I was with you, but it looked really good on paper, so I recommended to my sister that she go look at one (while she had called for advice on 3-row crossovers). My brother-in-law, in the background, said aloud, “hell no, we’re not getting a KIA.”
      I went and test drove one for them, was very impressed, and gave them my feedback. They ended up getting one. Then my brother and sister-in-law got a Palisade a few months later.
      Depreciation won’t be bad considering that its well-priced to begin with and they are in high demand.

    • 0 avatar
      cprescott

      I am not aware of any rapid decay on the interiors of H/K products. I own a 2016 Hyundai and it still looks brand new. A friend bought a 2011 Kia that is equally as good on the inside.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Telluride has been selling at ABOVE MSRP and for the hard–to-get SX/SX-P trims, even used ones have been going for MSRP so resale value should hold up pretty well.

      Granted, anecdotal, but know a couple of families who have an older Hyundai in their fleet of vehicles – one being a 2005 Azera (closing in on 200k) and the other a 2009 Santa Fe (over 170k).

      Both interiors have held up pretty well despite abuse from young kids and sitting out in the sun all the time. Only issue is some crinkling on the pleather on the arm rest on the door of the Azera.

      The vehicles are at the stage where they want to get rid of them, but they just won’t die (never did any of the maintenance aside from oil changes and various fluid refill), and both families use them whenever they have to go to the city (where it doesn’t matter if they get dinged again).

      Funny thing is that neither families are “car people”, but have the means to purchase a new S Class every year (that’s what they spend on private school tuition), but the dads each had an impulse buy – one getting an Escalade ESV and the other, a Model X.

      Funny thing is that both spend most of the time sitting in the garage as the Escalade ESV is too large and gas guzzling for daily commute purpose and the other dad drives too much (going from office to office) where he would have range anxiety even w/ the Tesla (so drives a hybrid).

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I feel like the Telluride is like a co-worker who is “work hot” — striking initial good looks that stand out from the rest, lots of buzz about being the new kid on the block, etc. Then time passes and buzz fades.

    I think the Telluride and Palisade are great efforts. But all of this talk (not in this review, necessarily) about how the Telluride is a Range Rover for half the price is silly. This is a mass-market, mass-produced car built to a price point. Well-executed and handsome (though I find the styling unsophisticated and a bit ham-fisted), but as much a luxury car as a Subaru Outback Touring.

    Of course, luxury brands who have apparently stopped trying to be more than mass-market vehicles with gingerbread on top (Acura, Infiniti), should be threatened by a solid mainstream vehicle like this.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      I have never heard anyone compare this to a RR – a vehicle double the price with less reliability and greater depreciation.

      That would be like comparing a CRV to a Stelvio.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Kia/Hyundai need to come out with another brand, then let Kia go away. Kia is the Plymouth to the Dodge that is Hyundai.

      Genesis is still very small… they could have made this a Genesis instead of a Kia. Whoops, too late now.

      If H/K/G were smart, they would come out with a top-tier luxosport version of the model first, under the Genesis brand, then make a Hyundai or Kia “version” at a lower price point a few months later. Kind of the reverse of the Cavalier/Cimarron debacle.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @RHD: “Kia/Hyundai need to come out with another brand, then let Kia go away. Kia is the Plymouth to the Dodge that is Hyundai.”

        You have no idea what you’re talking about. Besides, what *actual* problem would that solve?

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Uhh, Genesis doesn’t do FWD-based vehicles, so no “tarted-up” Highlander like for Lexus.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I see these everywhere where I live and for good reason, that’s a lot of crossover for $47K. I don’t know how they’ll hold-up over time, but they sure are off to a strong start

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    The Telluride has one sales floor advantage over it’s Pallisade brother; that being the Kia’s conventional transmission stick type shifter, over the Hyundai’s puck style. People generally prefer the familiar.
    ;-)

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Dealers can’t keep these in the lots where I live. A coworker’s spouse tried to get one and they wouldn’t negotiate any and selection was very limited. They ended up getting a Palisade because Hyundai dealership had a lot more flexibility and availability. He also liked the Palisade better integrated into the dashboard screen. For the Kia, it is kind of sprouting out of the dashboard which seems to be the new terrible trend.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Carrera, I have been driving a M-B B250 that has the screen “sprouting out of the dashboard”. As part of my imminent move to the US, I just bought a Sportage SX, which has the screen “better integrated into the dashboard”.

      I can tell you that, aesthetically, I prefer the screen in the dashboard. But I have to confess that the screen sprouting out of the dashboard is much more useful. In the B250, the screen is within my peripheral vision and I don’t have to take my eyes off the road to understand what it says. In the Sportage, looking at the screen requires me to flick my eyes away from the road. Which is not desirable (to put it mildly).

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        ECT, I’ve only been in cars with screens sprouting out of the dashboard occasionally so you could be right..I probably would learn to like it. As of now, for the few times I used them, I didn’t care for them. I seldomly look at the screen anyway…even if navigation is on, I normally don’t look, I let the voice guide me. I’ve never been in a Telluride or Palisade but I just like the way Hyundai has it integrated. I am just trying to figure out if the screen in the Telluride or the shifter in the Palisade is a bigger annoyance.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “dynamically sound enough to suggest that some other automakers weren’t even trying with their land barges”

    So what vehicles fall under the “weren’t even trying” category?

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Really not seeing what the appeal of this car is. Styling wise it’s really nothing spectacular over it’s competition. I guess people are all gaga over price, but again, nothing groundbreaking. Plus being a Kia is a strike. So yea, not understanding the glowing adulation. My guess is it’s being driven by the idea that Kias are trendy right now. Just like it’s trendy to own a Subaru when the reality is they are no better than any other cars. Trendy sells.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Sorry, but it depends on what you’re measuring when you determine what car is better or worse than another. YMMV.

      While I greatly admire what H-K has done with this and the Pallisade, if a loaded one is only $1-2k less than a Highlander Platinum then the smart money is on the Toyota for retained value, or even go $2k more and get the Highlander Hybrid with 50% more mpgs. $4-5k MSRP difference for H-K and it may seem worthwhile.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The Telluride being a Kia is a plus for me.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The Telluride has striking styling inside and out and good feature content for the money. But honestly, just like smaller Kias, I’m not finding that the styling is aging well. It takes Range Rover cues, but doesn’t manage to look expensive; put it next to a Volvo XC90 and that quickly becomes clear. I preferred the Palisade to start and continue to prefer it even more strongly.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Doesn’t look anything like a Range Rover (aside from having a boxy shape).

      Otoh, the Aviator and Ford Flex certainly do (esp. at the greenhouse), not to mention the new Bronco (albeit more of a Land Rover comparison).

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I like it, wife likes it. In a year or two when we replace our Enclave we will definitely drive one. At the Buffalo car show they had this exact model. Just happened to be about 30 feet away from a new Enclave Avenir. The Buick was about 9 grand more. Even the Chevy blazer with only two rows was 51K for the model on display. Sorry GM, no sale at those prices. The Enclave would have to be discounted 10 grand to be competitive, and even then the KIA has some features not available on the Buick. The Blazer pricing is just insane. Hopefully by the time we start shopping Telluride stock will have caught up with demand. Also, if KIA offers up a turbo six as an upgraded engine choice at a reasonable upcharge it would be icing on the cake. The only vehicle that the Enclave competes well with is the new XT6. Same engine and less room cost 25 percent more in the Caddy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I think H/K had the right design briefs on these. You’re not going to be carving corners with your family and luggage on board. At least I HOPE not. Some more motor would be nice but I think transverse transmissions are limited in the torque they can handle. I don’t think it’s coincidental that most vehicles in this class tap out at around 260-270lb/ft. And that’s probably why the Exploder went longitudinal.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “although there’s too much weight on tap for those who expect truly blazing acceleration. ”
    well at “19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)” they won’t be getting anything to be thrilled about with MPGs as well.
    I pass on the fake bling causing everybody’s eyes to glazeover

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    I’ve had a Telluride in the S trim with AWD for about a month now. I’m not an suv guy at all but have been very pleased. Way more refined compared to the Enclave and Highlander we cross shopped it against. Drives far smoother then a car it’s size should and comes with all the tec you would expect. All for 40k OTD.

    Honestly if your in need of a three row to move kids and dogs around the suburbs you would be hard pressed to do any better.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    For the same level of equipment, you’d pay $60K+ for an Explorer.

    Although with the Explorer you’d spend more time in the service department then out on the road.

    Kia has it all over the Explorer with the Telluride. It even approaches MKFord levels of refinement.

  • avatar
    silverfin

    I don’t understand why anyone would choose this over the Toyota Highlander as the cost of ownership due to depreciation will easily make this an expensive vehicle to own in the long term. Lets see if it is still on the road in 200k miles. Then there is issue of reliability….

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Well for starters, overall ride quality, interior fit and finish detail. Most of all overall space the new Highlander is only slightly larger than the last one and the 3rd row is still useless for adults. Even though I have put 240k miles on my Mazda Cx9 most folks dont drive 22k plus miles a year like I do.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      As a guy, I would choose this over the competition for the styling alone. This is a very masculine design which is rare in this class.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        “As a guy, I would choose this…”

        Stop. There is nothing you can say that makes this statement true at this point other than something akin to “because I want to keep my wife happy so she let’s me continue to collect air cooled Porsches and old BMWs”.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Lets see if it is still on the road in 200k miles. Then there is issue of reliability….”

      Well, my 09 Sedona has 135k on it. The only true failure it has suffered was a throttle position sensor at 61k, which was replaced by a redesigned unit.

      I live in the Rust Belt, so I had to replace the radiator once.

      My 01 Elantra made it to 201k before it rusted away, but it was 13 years old, too.

      Somehow, I don’t think any stories of 200,000-mile Kias will convince you anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      My wife’s 07 Tucson went 204k and was still solid and held up decently.

      The 17 Santa Fe that replaced it however has already had more shop visits and isn’t holding up nearly as well.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    The only thing that continues to give me pause are those taillights, ever since I learned that the orange eyeliner is on the upper trims. I know it’s a dumb thing to be hung up about, but the taillights look off and make it look frumpy.

    I’m not an H/K hater, more an apathist. I think the two cousins swap sides every generation as to who makes the more attractive vehicles, and I would test drive them in the future. In the past I’ve had a bad experience with a bottom rung Forte, but won’t write off the brand entirely because of that one vehicle. My gran has had a 2013 Optima LX since new and enjoys it greatly; it’s cheap to run and does exactly what she needs.

    This isn’t the segment that I would need since I have no use for that much space, but I can see the appeal. The Telluride appears more cohesively designed, aside from the minor issues above, and eschews the bulbous slabsidedness of other vehicles it its class.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I find that both vehicles are very competitive in a general sea of mediocrity. And this is coming from a Honda and Toyota guy. Honda Pilot is not what it used to be…the new Highlander is ugly and has tiny windows, the new Ford Explorer is nice looking but too many finishing issues, plus I’been driving older generations ( last one and before last) at work and never been impressed. Atlas seems decent all around but reliability is in the dumps, GM is GM so no thanks. Who else is left? Mazda CX9? Yeah, I like it but seems a bit tight inside with all seats up. So that’s how Kia and Hyundai all of a sudden is on top…in my opinion.

  • avatar

    I’d really rather have an Enclave.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Looks alright in pictures, but up close it looks like the fat rolls start falling out all over the place. I’ll still take the minivan it’s based on.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    If this had a GM or Ford badge on it the sticker would be close to 60K with all of this equipment without the warranty. So for that this Kia is a win for me.

  • avatar
    Hoodedhawk1

    My ’17 Sedona has over 50,000 miles and the interior (leather) still looks great. Its been abused by kids and dogs as well as general hauling and I’m really pleased with it. I think depreciation worries are overplayed, especially when factoring what you pay versus MSRP. The Honda/Toyota groups are willing to put some money on the hood these days, but Kia put a lot of money on the hood as well as a great finance rate. I paid $12,000 less for the Kia than a similarly equipped Toyota/Honda. My rate of depreciation would be atrocious had I paid MSRP, but I paid considerably less than MSRP for the van. Also, I plan to drive the thing to 200,000 miles, so it won’t be worth much anyway. I would not have considered buying a Kia 6 or 7 years ago, but a rental Sportage in ’16 changed my perception, and I’ve been really happy driving the Kia. I’d still rather drive a pickup, but a blended family and 4 teenagers dictated the need for the van.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The Telluride has won just about every award/ranking/comparison in North America and the if it did lose out, was to its corporate cousin, the Palisade.

    It’s now down to the Telluride and 2 Mazdas for World Car of the Year.

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