Behold the 2020 Telluride, the biggest Kia ever. It has three rows of seats, with places for eight people if the middle row is a bench, or seven places if outfitted with middle-row captain’s chairs.
The Telluride is a standard-sized SUV whose proportions place it at the larger end of the midsize category. Its rugged-looking design revives the boxiness of the earliest SUVs, but adds character lines, front-end flair, and other touches that give Telluride a modern, refined look.
Though Telluride is quiet and comfortable to travel in, it is also built to handle demanding road and weather conditions.
There are four Telluride trims: LX, S, EX, and SX. All are available with front-wheel drive or active on-demand all-wheel drive.
The LX trim comes in the eight-passenger configuration only. The S trim has standard seven-passenger seating or optional eight-passenger seating. EX is the opposite: standard eight-passenger, optional seven-passenger. The SX trim comes only in seven-passenger configuration.
With a $1,095 destination charge included, pricing starts at $32,785 for a front-drive LX, and tops out at $44,585 for an all-wheel-drive SX. All-wheel drive is $2,000 extra on all models.
Drive mode variations include Smart, Eco, Sport, and Comfort. For when the going gets dicey, Snow and AWD Lock are two other available settings.
All Telluride models are powered by a 291-horsepower V6 engine generating 262 pound-feet of torque and joined to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
With front-wheel drive, fuel economy ratings are 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. AWD ratings are 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Regular unleaded fuel is recommended.
The V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission are an entirely capable pair. Granted, I didn’t fill the Telluride with passengers or heavy cargo during the test week, or haul a trailer with it, so there wasn’t much strain. But I did climb it up Highway 2 into the Cascades at the 60-mph speed limit, maybe just a tiny bit more at times, using Eco mode to reduce fuel consumption like a good environmental citizen, and found nothing to complain about. Telluride was also sure-footed on the twisty parts.
For this review, I drove the SX model with all-wheel drive. Its standard equipment items include a full suite of driver assistance systems, heated and ventilated front seats, three-zone climate control, window shades on the second-row windows, a sunroof, wireless phone charger, and an infotainment system with 10-inch touchscreen, navigation, satellite radio, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.
But wait, there’s more: 20-inch black finished alloy wheels, a fixed rear sunroof, LED headlamps and fog lamps, 12-way power driver’s seat, and a Harman Kardon audio system with celestial sound quality.
Still going here with more of the tester’s equipment: an optional Prestige package ($2,000) added upgraded seat trim, heated and ventilated second-row seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Roominess inside Telluride’s cabin is best illustrated by the generous amount of leg room: 41.4 inches for the front row, 42.4 inches for the middle row, and 31.4 inches for the third row. Cargo capacity with second- and third-row seats upright is 21 cubic feet. Folding the third row expands the space to 46 cubic feet, and folding the second row too provides 87 cubic feet. The cargo areas created have an absolutely flat floor and there are no gaps.
All seats fold down quickly and easily, and second-row seats also slide to make third-row access easier. This is a big deal because Telluride’s third row is suitable for adults, which means it won’t always be bouncy boneless little kids trying to get back there.
2020 KIA TELLURIDE SX V6 AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $44,585
Price as driven: $46,860
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.