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2020 Kia Telluride SX (mostly) a gentle giant

2020 Kia Telluride SX
2020 Kia Telluride SX - Justin Pritchard

The Kia Telluride is a three-row, eight-seat crossover. It’s a machine worth investigation by the active family who tends to max out the space in their vehicle, or, a smaller family that needs a vehicle with loads of room to grow into. 

The styling is polarizing, and some will notice cues borrowed from other up-market crossovers, including Volvo. The ornamentation is prominent, the lines are unique, and the fascia is easy to spot. Love the looks or not, Telluride won’t be easily lost in the mall parking lot, and stands out starkly against most other affordable crossovers on the road, thanks to its unique design.  

Occupants in each seating row can expect abundant space, relatively easy access, and plenty of at-hand storage and charging ports nearby, even for those sitting in second or third-row seats. The latter are easily accessed, even by adults, who will find a comfy-snug fit. The rear seating is best left for the kids, but adults of average size won’t be squashed. 

The cargo hold offers decent space, even with the third-row seats in use. Fold all seating flat, and you’ve got a hefty cargo van. Spring-loaded seating latches and easy-to-use release buttons makes folding, flipping, tipping and reclining a cinch, often with an action light enough for one-handed use. My five-year old Golden Retriever had no issue jumping in and out of the cargo area, though older or smaller pooches may require assistance.

Telluride’s cabin provides a satisfying appearance relative to its price. Interfaces and displays are modern and easy to use, materials selection is good, control placement is mostly logical, and there’s plenty of stitching and metallic accenting to dial up the flair. In all, the visual atmosphere conveyed should satisfy most shoppers with ease. 

My tester was a generously-loaded SX-grade unit, with an ask of about $50,000.

Feature content included the most modern must-haves, with favourites including a wireless phone recharging pad, heated and chilled seats, surround-view parking camera, dual sunroofs, and a clever driver computer that repeats your wiper and light stalk selections on screen for easy reference. 

The parking radar system can alert drivers of incoming vehicles as they reverse into a laneway, often with impressive detection distance.

Telluride’s key strength is likely its on-road ride quality: the suspension feels tough and durable, tuned for sturdy comfort. Ride quality tends to be consistently good on smoother surfaces, though rough roads (and especially rocky off-road trails) do cause noise and harshness levels from the suspension to climb. In all, it’s softly sporty on its feet and more stable in cornering than some will expect, though shoppers venturing over rough or off-road surfaces have better-riding options.

Given Telluride’s size and heft, most test-drivers will expect a bigger and more cumbersome feel at the controls. I found the drive to be lighter and easier than expected. Mostly, it’s no more labour-intensive to drive than a big car. 

If you’re wondering, she’ll seat up to eight and tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Sporty drivers need not apply, however. The 3.8-litre V6 is good for 291 horsepower, but a typically-lazy throttle and transmission calibration mean that responsive performance is not the name of the Telluride’s game. Performance is adequate and the powertrain is smooth and refined, but this one’s tuned for fuel efficiency, not performance. 

So, perhaps not the best pick for the sporty or off-road driver, but those who want to comfortably enjoy space to spare without blending in will find Telluride to be a one of a kind package. 

The specs

Model: 2020 Kia Telluride SX
Engine: 3.8L V6, GDI, 291 horsepower
Drivetrain: AWD 
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Features: premium audio system, climate-controlled seats, smart cruise, LED technology headlights, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, automatic high-beams, drive-mode selector, rear-door sunshades
What’s hot: Good on-road ride quality, big and comfortable, nice interior, space galore
What’s not: some drivers will wish for more power, rough roads degrade ride quality
Starting price (Telluride EX): $45,000
Price as tested (Telluride SX): $50,000


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