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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


2020 Kia Telluride: All-new three-row crossover is among Kia’s best

I needed a little time to reset my perceptions and accept that the big crossover in my driveway was a Kia.

A big, all-new three-row Kia.

The 2020 Telluride ($31,690) is the largest vehicle Kia has ever built. And easily among the best.

How good is it? Good enough to have been compared favorably with a Land Rover product. It lacks that brand’s heritage and its opulent swagger, but its premium SX trim ($41,490) doesn’t fall far short of luxury.

The Telluride’s eight-passenger cabin is quietly upscale. Modern tech, high-quality materials and first-cabin fit-and-finish reflect Kia’s drive to succeed in the midsize crossover segment.

Kia already fields a three-row crossover in the Sorento, but the Telluride is 8 inches longer and rides on a wheelbase that’s nearly five inches longer.

Copious cargo space

Telluride’s second and third rows of seats are roomy enough to accommodate adults. 

Cargo space is also a big winner. There are 21 cubic feet of storage behind the third row and a generous 87 cf with the second- and third-row seats folded.

A wide hatch opening, low load floor and an underfloor compartment boost utility. 

Telluride’s suspension is tuned to favor comfort over handling. The ride is on the firm side, but the big crossover easily absorbs the bumps and bruises of the daily drive. There’s modest body lean in the corners and other unwanted motions are well controlled. 

During our weeklong test, we experienced a handful of moments when broken road surfaces upset the Telluride’s composure, but it recovered quickly. 

The Telluride is built on a front-wheel-drive platform and all trims qualify for AWD, a $2,000 option. In Sport mode, Kia’s AWD system transfers up to 35 percent of available torque to the rear wheels, enhancing driving dynamics. 

Smooth and willing powertrain

The only engine offered is a 3.8-liter 291-horsepower paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts decisively and quickly. Even at lower speeds, there’s no obvious hesitation and the automatic downshifts willingly when prodded.

The Telluride manages the 0-60 sprint in the low-7-second range, about average for the class.

A properly equipped Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds and 8 inches of ground clearance allow for easy going on Forest Service roads. An available underbody skid plate protects the vulnerable bits down below.

All Tellurides are equipped with a rich assortment of comfort, convenience and driver-assist features. 

Richly equipped

Standard gear on the base LX includes keyless entry and ignition, adaptive cruise control, auto-off headlights, remote engine start, rear parking assist, simulated leather upholstery, a back-up camera and heated power mirrors.

Kia's UVO infotainment system, also standard, includes an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth and six USB ports.

Unique but useful features include Quiet Mode, which restricts audio output to the front row and Driver Talk, which projects the driver’s voice through the rear speakers.

All trims but the LX are eligible for a navigation system, a larger, 10.25-inch touch screen, a head-up display, wireless phone charging, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and a seventh USB port. 

Standard driver-assist features include blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and rear parking sensors. Other sensors can detect whether you’ve left a child, a pet or the groceries behind when exiting the vehicle.

Neat new tech

In a cool piece of new tech, the Telluride has a feature that prevents the rear doors from being opened if a vehicle is approaching from behind.

Kia’s infotainment interface is one of the better examples of touchscreen technology. Its graphics are crisp and clear, its menus logically structured and its operations clearly labelled.

Disappointments include the absence of onboard WiFi and a head-up display that goes invisible when viewed through polarized sunglasses.

Assorted bins and cubbies hold phones and other smaller items. The padded console conceals a large covered storage bin.

I had no problem finding a comfortable driving position. Sight lines and ergonomics are excellent, though the far edge of the larger touchscreen can be a real reach.

But it’s no reach to proclaim the Telluride a full-tilt success. Once again, Kia has proven it can compete with the industry’s best.

Questions or comments? Contact Don at

2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD
Vehicle base price: $31,690
Trim level base price: $43,490
As tested: $47,444 (includes destination and handling)
Options included: tow package; Nappa leather seats; premium headliner and trim; head-up display; 2nd-row heated and ventilated seats; Rain-sensing windshield wipers; 110-volt inverter, Michelin tires, Heated steering wheel; interior light kit; illuminated scuff plates; running boards; carpeted floor mats; cargo cover; more.
Tow rating: 5,000 pounds
EPA rating: 21 combined/19 highway/24 city
Regular unleaded fuel specified

Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.