If you’re a follower of automotive awards – well, it takes all sorts, and some winners are more than worth a mental note – you may have picked up that 2020’s World Car of the Year winner is the Kia Telluride.

Telluride? Yes. This is a large seven-seat SUV of handsome lines and fine furnishings, its ample capabilities available for an unusually keen price. But only in the US and the Middle East. If you want one in Britain, then the Kia Sorento is the closest you’ll get.

If you’re wondering how a model can win a World Car award when it’s commercially absent from a substantial portion of the earth’s non-aqueous surface, then please let me explain. Full disclosure, incidentally – I’m on the World Car of the Year jury. 

To qualify for the 2020 awards, a model had to be on sale in two regions at some point between 1 January 2019 and 1 May 2020, which this Kia is. While two regions may not sound entirely global, the aim is to ensure there’s meaningful assessment of every mainstream new model released worldwide in any given year.

The “two regions” stipulation means that Peugeots and Renaults not sold in the US are eligible, for instance – just as Cadillacs, Chevrolets and Hondas not sold in Europe are too. Otherwise, a wide variety of models would be eliminated and undermine the awards’ usefulness.

That 86 judges reckoned the Telluride was a winner despite this model not being available in many of the 24 countries they represent tells you this is a car of quite some merit. As were the World Urban Car-winning Kia Soul and the Porsche Taycan, which won the Performance Car and Luxury Car titles. Happily, these are available in the UK.


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