It starts with the large, box-shaped styling on the outside, giving the Kia Telluride looks that stand out in the crowd. And that’s something Kia really had to do in order to make a successful product in this crowded space that’s dominated by long-standing products like the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer – not to mention its sibling the new Hyundai Palisade.

New for 2021: Changes to the Telluride for the 2021 model year are limited. If it ain’t broken why fix it right? Though the changes are subtle they are useful. Kia has given the Telluride a seven-pin trailer harness which was a four-point before. LED headlamps are now available EX trim onwards as part of the premium package. Kia has also added an ‘On’ button on the key fob along with two new paint options called Sangria and Black Copper. The biggest addition to the 2021 Kia Telluride however, is the addition of the new Nightfall appearance package. As the name suggests, the Nightfall edition gets an all black treatment with a blacked out grille, 20-inch black wheels and more black accents inside and out. It costs $1,295 and is available with the EX AWD trim with Premium Package and SX AWD and SX prestige trims. 

Unlike many other parts of the Kia family, the Telluride takes a lot of the things learned from Hyundai’s upscale Genesis brand and applies it to a three-row SUV. At the top trim, there are plenty of familiar luxury features and interior space for up to eight passengers. The interior itself is just stunning, with European flare everywhere and premium materials too.

You can get the Telluride in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, while power comes from a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Kia designed and builds the Telluride in the US, with assembly done at their West Point, Georgia factory. Kia Telluride is a brand new take on the midsized SUV market. In essence, it takes many of the finest points of modern Kia products and amplifies them. In particular, it delivers far above expectations when it comes to styling, interior materials, and (one of the brand’s long-standing qualities) plenty of features.

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Kia Telluride fuel economy

The 2020 Kia Telluride recommends the use of regular gasoline. A front-wheel-drive Kia Telluride should get an estimated 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, for a combined 23 mpg. When you bump up to the all-wheel-drive, estimated combined mileage drops to 21 mpg.

Kia Telluride safety rating

After their testing of the 2020 Kia Telluride, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded a Top Safety Pick Plus. With standard forward-collision braking and alerting, blind spot collision avoidance, driver attention warning, and adaptive cruise control, there are plenty of safety features at every trim. Standard driver aids also include rear cross-traffic alerting and a rearview camera.

Kia Telluride Features and Pricing

Kia Telluride LX: $ 33,160 (AWD +2,000)

The 3.8-liter V6 is common across the Telluride lineup. Synthetic leather is the upholstery of choice for the base LX trim. But despite being the base trim, it still gets a leather wrapped steering wheel, aircon for the rear passengers, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, UVO telematics, smart key with push-button start, and rear parking sensors. Other notable features include adaptive cruise control system with stop and go and one-touch sliding and folding second-row seats. 

In terms of safety, you get auto emergency braking and warning, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist and safe-exit assist, all as standard. 

Kia Telluride S: $ 35,560 (AWD +2,000)

Moving up the trim grade, the S trim adds 20-inch alloys wheels, power sunroof and heated front seats over the base LX trim. This trim also replaces the rear bench with captain seats in the second row. You also get a more premium grille. The touchscreen system remains the same but the driver’s perch is 8-way electrically adjustable. Other convenience features include a remote engine start and six USB ports. Safety kit remains the same as the LX trim. 

Kia Telluride EX: $38,560 (AWD +2,000)

For $3,000 more, you can have the EX trim which is the more luxurious trim of the Telluride lineup. It adds leather upholstery along with heating and ventilation for the front seats which are also power adjustable. 

The infotainment system gets a size bump to 10.25 inches and also adds navigation system with highway drive assist. Other features include smart power liftgate and power folding mirrors, a tri-zone climate control and wireless phone charger. The newly introduced Nightfall aesthetic package is also available EX trim  onwards. 

The EX premium package adds 1,695 to the total cost and adds captain chairs to the middle row along with 20-inch wheels, LED projector headlamps and 50/50 split-folding middle row seats. Towing package too is $795 extra and is available on the EX and SX trims only. 

Kia Telluride SX: $43,360 (AWD +1,900) 

The top SX trim gets the 20-inch black sport alloy rims along with dual sunroofs. LED headlamps, fog lamps and tail lamps are all standard along with leather upholstery and second row captain seats. Over the EX, it also adds, a Harman Kardon 10-speaker system along with surround view monitor and blind-spot monitor. The SX trim also comes with a seven-inch LCD instrument cluster and power-adjustable front seats with memory function and second row sunshades. 

The Nightfall package is also available on the SX. Plus, if you want Nappa leather upholstery, heads-up display, heated and ventilated second row seats and rain sensing wipers, you need to shell out an extra $2,300 as these are part of the SX Prestige package. 

Kia Telluride competitors

There is a lot of choice in the midsized SUV market, but the Kia Telluride stacks up well against its competitors. Some of the competitors are the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent, VW Atlas, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe XL, Kia Sorento, and the Nissan Pathfinder.

The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride share many of the same components and are made in the same factory. They offer slight variations in the interior finish but are mostly sister vehicles. Both have big, boxy looks and attractive styling, which helps them stand out well in the crowded segment.

Kia Telluride Review

By Sami Haj-Assaad

Surprising is the best way to describe Kia’s latest new models. The all-new Stinger made such a splash that it earned our car of the year award, and we were left wondering what’s next to come from the Korean automaker. The answer is the Kia Telluride, a three-row crossover that is a bit late to the game but can one-up almost every rival in the segment.

It certainly makes a strong impression right out of the gates, with bold imposing styling that’s almost a caricature of ruggedness. With its boxy flanks and lettering that spans the hood and tailgate, it channels its inner Range Rover. Designed in Irvine, California, this is the first Kia specifically designed for a US audience, but what does that mean? It means when you’re driving behind another motorist, they’ll glance up to see that their rear view mirror has been filled by this large intimidating vehicle. And when they move over, giving way for a pass, they’ll gawk at the size of the big Telluride that can command such attention on the roads.

See Also: 2019 Kia Stinger vs Dodge Charger

The Telluride has a harsh size that’s hard to miss, but that’s beneficial when it comes to the interior. The Kia three-row has plenty of space for cargo and passengers making it the perfect family road-trip partner. Our tester featured a cabin that’s flush with premium touches, from the seats to the headliner, it feels far more special and unique than you’d expect.

Beyond the spacious, premium interior, you’ll find lots of high-tech goodies and features in the Telluride. It’s like Kia saw each of its competitors’ special feature, and put a special spin on it to make it their own. For example, the Telluride has a special microphone that projects the driver’s voice to the rear speakers so people in the third row can hear the pilot clearly. Alternatively, there’s a quiet mode which is perfect for parents, that mutes all the speakers except for the set by the driver and front passenger, so they can enjoy media while the folks in the back can get some peace and quiet. There’s a rear seat reminder as well as a safe exit warning system, so no one opens a door into dangerous traffic.

Additionally, you’ll find the 10.25-inch screen pairs nicely with the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play support. There is also a wireless phone charger and several USB ports for charging everyone’s devices.

While there’s a place for everyone and their toys in the Telluride, the driver is greeted with a lot of handy equipment to make driving the large crossover less of a headache. A color head-up display is offered, which provides useful blind-spot information as well as a speedometer and navigation instructions. The mirrors also have blind-spot indicators, but the Telluride also features a Kia approach to Honda’s Lane Watch system. Whenever a lane change is indicated, the gauge cluster will display a camera feed of the area beside the vehicle. While this could be useful in a large city where you have to look out for pedestrians or cyclist, it’s perhaps a bad habit to stop physically checking your mirrors and windows when changing lanes.

See Also: Where is Kia from and Where are Kias made?

Regardless of your take on that side-view camera, it’s interesting to see so much assistance available to the driver. There’s a great 360-degree top-down camera view that helps with parking, and you can single out a perspective for better maneuverability of the car. There are adaptive cruise control and a lane keeping assist that actually centers the car in the lane, rather than a system that bounces the vehicle left and right between the lane markings. This is a fully featured luxury car with a Kia badge. It’s ok to be surprised at this point.

The ride and performance of the Telluride are where it fumbles a bit. It doesn’t bring the whole experience to a halt, but when Kia delivers not just a top-notch interior, but excellent tech features and stand-out design, the ho-hum performance is a noticeable drop-off. Under the hood is a 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes a 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and can be equipped with front- or all-wheel-drive. While the powerplant is enough to get the hefty Telluride up to speed and initiate passes, it never feels extremely urgent off the line. It’s enough to tow 5,000 lbs and with a self-leveling rear suspension, there’s a chance the Kia won’t be bullied by a trailer with a ski-doo or motorbike.

The ride is soft, and can sometimes be a bit too floaty. A few times, the ride just wouldn’t settle quickly enough, leaving a boat-on-waves motion. Fortunately, no one complained of sea-sickness.

There are a few different drive modes that adjust various elements of the Telluride. Using a knob on the center console, the car can switch between comfort, eco and sport modes. These change the way the steering effort as well as how the all-wheel-drive system splits its power between the front and rear axle. Additionally, the Telluride has a few off-road drive modes that impact how the car reacts to various surfaces. It should adapt well to cottage trips or the “road less travelled.”

Putting all this into perspective is the fact that you can get a fully-loaded Telluride with all-wheel-drive for less than $50,000. That’s a bargain when you consider the space, features, technology and safety afforded by the big Kia. If it wasn’t for the relatively average powertrain, this car can feel like a legitimate luxury car.

The Verdict: 2020 Kia Telluride

Ultimately, Kia has now gone two-for-two with its newest models, surprising us with both the Stinger and the Telluride. How many more successful new vehicles will it take before we consider this the expectation? The Telluride may be late to the party, but it delivers in every important way.

Discuss this story at our Kia Telluride Forum


Detailed Specs

Engine / 3.8-liter V6
Horsepower / 291 hp
Torque / 262 lb-ft
Transmission / 8-speed automatic
Seating capacity / 8 LX, EX / 7 S, SX
Cargo capacity / 21 cubic feet/87 cubic feet maximum
Towing capacity / 5,000 pounds

Our Final Verdict

The 2020 Kia Telluride is the second new model from Kia in the last couple years, and they may have captured lightning in a bottle twice. While the ride wasn’t quite as refined as we’d like, the interior design and comfort hit all the right notes. A capable V6 engine has enough power for a vehicle this size, but it’s not a spirited ride. Still, these are small issues in an otherwise well-executed midsized SUV. The 2020 Kia Telluride may be one to beat.