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Kia goes large with all-new, eight-seat SUV for North America that majors on space, quality and refinement
  • First Drive

    Kia Telluride SX 2019 review

    Kia goes large with all-new, eight-seat SUV for North America that majors on space, quality and refinement
24 June 2019
Kia Telluride SX 2019

What is it?

Kia continues the SUV revamp of its North American line-up with the new Telluride, a mid-size, three-row crossover. It’s a hotly contested, growing segment that includes US-made family transport staples such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

You’d be right in thinking that Kia already has a seven-seat SUV in the line-up, but the Sorento is not large enough to compete in this class. The new Telluride – named after a Colorado ski resort – is 200mm longer, 100mm wider and 65mm taller.

Under the bonnet is a 3.8-litre, direct-injection petrol V6 that runs on the Atkinson cycle to mitigate the two-tonne SUV’s appetite for fuel. Its 291bhp is par for the course in a class where powerful, large-capacity V6s remain the norm. We drove the Telluride in Canada, where all-wheel drive is standard; it’s optional in the US.

The Telluride hit the market for the 2020 model year and will be joined this summer by its platform sibling, the Hyundai Palisade. Neither will be sold in the UK.

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What's it like?

There’s no mistaking the Telluride for anything else. Its size is accentuated by distinctive, squared-off styling that gives it plenty of presence, and finished with nice detailing like the unusual orange, trapezoidal running lights.

The exterior style is matched by a classy interior, at least on the mid-range SX model that we drove. The wood and satin-metal dashboard and door trim look the part, and everything feels well screwed together. The front seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment. A 10.25in touchscreen with sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity is standard across the range.

You won’t be short of space, wherever you sit. Seating for up to three in the back takes the Telluride’s passenger capacity to eight, depending on whether you specify a second-row bench or two captain’s chairs. It’s still only children who will want to occupy those rearmost seats for anything longer than a short run in town, however.

With the third row down, the huge, flat-floored boot will swallow everything the average family will throw at it. With it up, Kia claims the 601-litre luggage capacity is still class leading.

On the move, the smooth-shifting auto’s ratios are well matched to the big V6, which is quiet unless pushed hard. Natural aspiration and a conventional auto remain our powertrain combination of choice for an SUV of this size, and Kia has nailed the calibration here.

The Telluride’s dynamics are nicely judged, too. Despite the 20in rims, the ride quality is good for this segment, which tends to be plagued with the lose-lose combination of soft body control and hardness over secondary inputs. We had no issues with the steering or braking performance, either.

Should I buy one?

Time was when Kia offered a dependable, value-priced alternative to mainstream Japanese and US domestic brands. It’s come a long way in a short time, though, as anyone who’s driven the excellent Stinger will testify. The Telluride’s sharp styling, premium interior and good road manners are priced accordingly – bang in line with the Pilot, Highlander and Explorer, in fact.

It’s a very different vehicle from the Stinger, but the Telluride is another success for Kia. Attractive inside and out, spacious and refined, it has the measure of its rivals, for now. Aside from the Hyundai Palisade, Ford’s new Explorer will also arrive shortly, followed swiftly by the 2020 Toyota Highlander – both riding on new platforms. The competition among family SUVs is set to get even tougher.

Kia Telluride SX specification

Where Calgary, Canada On sale Now Price C$49,995 (£28,700); not on sale in UK Engine V6, 3778cc, petrol Power 291bhp at 6000rpm Torque 262lb ft at 5200rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2018kg 0-62mph 7.5sec (est) Top speed na Economy WLTP figures tbc CO2 WLTP figures tbc Rivals Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander

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Comments
12

24 June 2019

It looks like a Cadiliac from the front, a BMW on the inside and a Volvo from the rear. Not really sure about the side view. I am glad it is not coming here. Kia can do better than this. 

24 June 2019
FastRenaultFan wrote:

It looks like a Cadiliac from the front, a BMW on the inside and a Volvo from the rear. Not really sure about the side view. I am glad it is not coming here. Kia can do better than this. 

funny, first thought was the rear is quite Volvo'esque. 

End of the day its another fat yank tank of which there are endless choices available.

25 June 2019
Can do it all and looks good doing it. Not cheap, but you get a lot for your money. I hope this comes to Australia - I think it would be quite popular.

24 June 2019

Looks interesting. I'll be renting one of these er, midsize SUVs on holiday next year and I'm kind of hoping it's one of these. They make no sense here in the UK whatsoever but when planning an 800 mile drive around empty US highways a Sorrento like I had last year feels like a Sportage on the road.

24 June 2019

Great looking car! 

24 June 2019

Looks like Kia are trying to differentiate between SUV and CUV.

 

The new Seltos also has a very boxy look, while the XCeed will be much more athletic looking.

Looks like they are trying to copy Mercedes with GLA, GLB and GLS.

The Sorrento is being englarged to be the GLE, while the Sportage will be the GLC.

Add in the Ceed range competing with the A class and you have the start of a brand wanting to play with the big boys.

25 June 2019

This shows that Kia still needs to copy design cues from other companies for their bigger cars. The Telluride looks like a Volvo SUV (think possible XC100!) with a Cadillac inspired front end. As for the dashboard, it's straight out of BMW's current interior design theme!

25 June 2019

Its a shame we won't get this in the UK.

Looks fantastic. Its a shame that those wanting a large capable vehicle have to spend £50K+ on mostly premium german metal.

I gentuinely think there is a market in the UK for a decent value good looking large SUV.

26 June 2019

I live in the GCC and am getting one.

 

:)

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