It's Official: The Kia Telluride Is the Early '90s Maxima

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
it s official the kia telluride is the early 90s maxima

Awards mean damn little around here, as most “official” accolades foisted upon various models carry as much weight as a gnat. The GM X-body once boasted a well-stocked trophy case.

And that’s the way it remains, for now and forever, though the recipient of the most recent big-ticket award deserves mention, if only because it reinforces a conclusion this writer landed on months ago.

If you haven’t heard already from family members and Facebook friends, the Kia Telluride was the big winner at the 2020 World Car Awards (announced Wednesday). Specifically, it is World Car of the Year — the first time any Korean vehicle has earned the title.

Don’t we all want to be World Car of the Year? I’m not sure about you, but I wouldn’t mind a little praise, dammit.

Clearly well regarded by a posse of journalists from around the globe, the Telluride is more than just a large-ish midsize crossover from a Korean manufacturer with a value-focused bent. Besides its obvious — but hardly groundbreaking — attributes (standard V6 engine, good level of content, spacious interior), the Telluride has something else. And it’s something few expected of Kia; certainly not in this segment, anyway.

Panache. Gravitas. Street cred. A certain machismo baked into its design that instantly sets it apart from other car-based CUVs, most of which look ready for the Whole Foods parking lot, not the parking spot in front of the nightclub. The Telluride, in this humble author’s opinion, is the crossover John Shaft would own, were his offspring more numerous than that one reedy dweeb in the most recent film.

Given its persona, one can easily imagine used examples of this vehicle being driven, far into the future, by that 18-21-year-old we all knew. You know, the one with the connections. Regardless of what aftermarket additions might crop up, no one will assume the Telluride is packing a base four-cylinder under that hood. There isn’t one. Nor is the model’s personality watered down by a hybrid or plug-in variant. One powertrain, no waiting. Now choose your options.

For all of these reasons, the Kia Telluride is the third-generation Nissan Maxima of its day (especially in secondhand form). Fêted upon their debut, they appealed to two different mindsets and lifestyles; much more so than other entries in their respective midsize segments. Both represented something of an outsider invading the mainstream, bringing with them unexpected upscale-leaning pretensions, plus a dose of status and respect.

As you read here, the Telluride boosted Kia’s bottom line in 2019 by romancing buyers left and right. Consumers liked what they saw, and Kia noticed. It’s no wonder the automaker is reportedly planning a loftier rung on the model’s trim ladder.

Am I way off base? Tear me to pieces in the comments.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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  • GXE94 GXE94 on Apr 12, 2020

    As the owner of a ’94 Maxima, the OP of this article has a screw loose. The '89-'94 Max has nothing in common with this appliance on wheels. The J30 Maxima is actually fun to drive, has a greenhouse you can see out of, and is easy and cheap to repair.

  • Orange260z Orange260z on Apr 18, 2020

    I had a Gen3 1992 Maxima SE (with the "gee-whiz" VE30DE motor) from 1992 until I switched to a Pathfinder in 1998. It's amazing looking back to see how much tech went into that V6 motor to produce the then-impressive 190hp from 3 litres - DOHC, 24 valves, VVT, variable-length intake manifolds, coil-on-plug ignition. It was a great car, but as it crossed the 100K kms mark the maintenance became very expensive (spark plugs at over $60 each stands out on my memory). Good memories though.

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.