When I review vehicles like the 2020 Kia Telluride SX, I always try to find something that I wish could be just a little bit better. Something that I didn’t love. Something that I should caution you about. But I honestly couldn’t find that thing this time.
I often give pretty positive reviews but here’s why. I usually request a review vehicle that I already know a lot about and that I’m excited to drive. I’m expecting to love most of the cars I drive. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. Sometimes I’m a little disappointed. But I’m always honest with you.
So, believe me when I tell you that pretty much everything about the Kia Telluride is fabulous.
When I saw this vehicle debut as a concept at a car show a few years ago, I had my doubts as to whether or not they could bring it to market, do it right, and actually find an audience for it. So when Kia had a press event earlier this year for the Telluride, I asked one of my auto journalist friends in attendance what she really thought about it and her words, “Kia did this one right.”
I spent a week figuring out that she was exactly right. Here’s how my time in the Kia Telluride went.
The Best Laid Plans Often Go Awry
Every summer, my brother, who lives in China, flies in with his two kids. We spend a month with them, becoming tourists in our own town. I thought it was a perfect time to nab a 7 passenger vehicle so I could shuttle everyone around. And then his plans changed and he actually arrived a week later than expected.
While I didn’t get to shuttle him and his kids around along with my family of three, I did get to put it to the test on the highway and in the city.
My friend Shannon invited me and my son to visit her in New Jersey and head into New York City for a movie tour. Perfect excuse for a long road trip in a new car!
Once we arrived and began making plans for our foray into the city, I offered to drive four of us (Shannon brought her daughter) since I had this nice new large vehicle.
THAT’S RIGHT. I DROVE A LARGE SUV INTO NEW YORK CITY!
We parked in a garage near Times Square, spent an exhausting day in record-setting temperatures, and then drove home in comfort and style. (I’ll leave out the part about me screaming obscenities at the parking garage attendant).
Once we cleaned off the grime and sweat of the city, we headed home the next day but not before capturing this really cool spot near Shannon’s house. In fact, she’s lives near some of the most picturesque parts of New Jersey I’ve ever seen! Definitely a reason for another road trip.
Fuel Economy in the Kia Telluride
But the road trip wasn’t just for fun. I actually turned it into a scientific experiment.
One thing I love about SUVs is the size, utility, and comfort. One thing I don’t love about SUVs is the fuel efficiency. While we’re getting there with more and more hybrid SUVs, Americans like big vehicles and big vehicles suck down a lot of gas.
The EPA estimate outs the Kia Telluride at about 21 mpg with 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. For this trip, I wanted to see if I could beat that.
Although the trip was mostly highway, we definitely did some city driving as well. For this experiment, I drove the Telluride exclusively in Sport mode on the way to Shannon’s and into the city. I wanted maximum performance, which usually comes at a cost with fuel. I was surprisingly pleased with the 24.3 mpg that I averaged in sport mode.
But WAIT! There’s more!
When I went to the opposite end of the spectrum and drove out of the city and home exclusively in ECO mode (something I normally detest), I achieved 28.2 mpg. And here’s the kicker – I didn’t even mind driving in Eco mode. I found that the handling and responsiveness was quite good.
In case that didn’t resonate with you, let me spell it out.
I got over 28 mpg with a 3.8L V6 engine. Well done, Kia. Well done.
If fuel economy is more of a sidebar for you, then let’s talk about the rest of the Telluride because there’s a lot to love.
The Best of the Kia Telluride
Let’s get right to it and I’ll tell you everything that I love about the Telluride.
It’s a good looking ride.
Now, I’ll admit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I think this is a beautifully designed vehicle. It’s boxy, for sure, but I’ve always kind of liked that. and the grill and tail lights give it a unique look on the road.
The interior is gorgeous.
Now, keep in mind that this is the SX trim – the highest trim level available. And it has the SX Prestige Package added for an additional $2000. That means I’ve got comfortable Nappa leather seat trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a premium cloth headliner, a front power sunroof, a rear sunroof, and gorgeous woodgrain accents (something that everyone that sat in the vehicle commented on).
The tech is all inclusive.
When I say tech, I’m talking about everything you would want: Qi wireless charging, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, 10″ touchscreen, Surround View and variable rear camera angles, at least 7 USB ports (I lost count), a power outlet, and Harmon/Kardon Surround Sound Audio.
But my favorite tech was the Blind-Spot View Monitor. When you activate your turn signal, a camera view of the side of your vehicle appears in dash so you can be sure of what exactly is beside your vehicle before you turn or switch lanes. It’s a little disorienting at first but amazing tech.
Lots of comfort for ALL passengers.
While I loved all of the driver-based options, like heated steering wheel, 12-way power driver’s seat, and memory driver’s seat, the front and second row passengers enjoyed heated and ventilated seats. Cupholders and USB ports are available for every. single. passenger.
Note that this trim gives you captain’s chairs in the second row making it a 7 passenger vehicle (6, if you don’t want to squish 3 people in that third row) but one trim lower will replace the captain’s chairs with bench seating technically making it an 8 passenger vehicle.
You’ll find loads of cargo space throughout.
While it is a little tight with the third row up, we still fit our suitcases in the back for a quick trip to NYC with the 21 cubic feet of cargo space. And with the third row down we expanded that to 46 cubic feet and finally a whopping 87 cubic feet with the second row folded down.
What It’ll Cost You
If you’ve fallen in love with the Kia Telluride like I did, you’re probably waiting to brace yourself for the huge price tag. And, it’s actually not that bad, all things considered.
The 2010 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD that I drive had a total MSRP of $46,860. Keep in mind that I was driving the highest trim level with the $2000 Prestige Package. This also includes $210 for the carpeted floor mats and $115 for the cargo mat.
If the bells and whistles aren’t as essential for you, you can get a Telluride at the starting price of $31,690. A veritable bargain for a vehicle of this size.
Keep in mind that this is the first model year for the Telluride which makes people a little more cautious with their purchasing but you’ll also get the Kia 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Video Review of the Kia Telluride
Want to learn more? It’s sometimes better to see it with your own eyes!
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