Affordability is often offset by frugality, but the 2020 Kia Telluride transcends that association with its utterly lavish qualities and absolute bargain price. With enormous proportions and three rows of seats, the bold-looking Kia is the company's biggest crossover SUV. It has all the tenets of a great family hauler, including abundant passenger space and contemporary features. Its standard V-6 powertrain isn't especially efficient, but it's quietly competent and able to tow up to 5000 pounds. The 2020 Telluride also has already won a comparison test against the segment's top contenders, and proved its comprehensive excellence by earning a spot on our 10Best list.
What's New for 2020?
The Kia Telluride is all new for 2020. Although it's based on the three-row Kia Sorento, it's considerably larger—and grander—inside and out. Its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, is also all new and differentiated by its even bolder exterior styling and uniquely appointed interior. Kia also increased the prices of its popular new SUV in the middle of its first model year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- LX: $33,060
- S: $35,460
- EX: $38,460
- SX: $42,960
It's not often that we recommend the fully loaded version of a vehicle, since we prioritize the best value for shoppers. However, even the fanciest and most expensive Telluride is a certified bargain. That's why we'd choose the SX model and add all-wheel drive for $2000. It already has slick standard features that include a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, 20-inch wheels, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, dual sunroofs, and more, but we'd also select the Tow package to utilize the Telluride's towing abilities as well as the SX Prestige package. The latter brings a head-up display, heated and ventilated second-row seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a 110-volt outlet, and more premium interior materials.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the hood of every 2020 Telluride is a naturally aspirated V-6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Its engine pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission that feeds the front wheels in the standard format—all-wheel drive is also optional across the board. The top-of-the-line Telluride SX we tested charged from zero to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds. However, the big Kia didn't feel as responsive to throttle inputs at lower speeds as did some of its turbocharged rivals. The Telluride's ride is on the firm side, with harsh pavement sometimes throwing the three-row SUV off its intended path. A self-leveling rear air suspension is also available. Brakes are excellent and the steering is precise with a nice heft to its feel. The Telluride boasts 8.0 inches of ground clearance for off-road excursions, and it can tow up to 5000 pounds.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Unlike many rival three-row SUVs, the Telluride is only offered with a V-6 powertrain. The EPA estimates the front-drive version is the thriftiest, with ratings of 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive models drop to 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, which are slightly higher than V-6–powered competitors such as the Volkswagen Atlas and slightly lower than the Honda Pilot. The all-wheel-drive Telluride we tested on our 200-mile fuel-economy route returned 24 mpg highway—matching its government rating. The Atlas also earned 24 mpg while the Pilot got 27 mpg during our real-world test.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Regardless of people's opinion about the 2020 Telluride's bold outward appearance, its interior is undeniably upscale and comfortable. The build quality is excellent, the materials are attractive, and the desirable features are plentiful. Because the Telluride is several inches longer than the seven-passenger Sorento, its cabin is even more spacious, especially for those in the wayback seat. There is room for eight with a second-row bench seat or room for seven with the optional captain's chairs. Along with ample interior storage throughout the cabin, we managed to fit four carry-on suitcases behind its third row and stuffed a total of 35 carry-ons with both back rows folded flat.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Even the entry-level Telluride boasts a robust infotainment system that features an 8.0-inch touchscreen with popular content that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability along with numerous power points. Every other model has the same equipment as well as a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen and wireless phone charging. A Harman/Kardon audio system is included on the top-tier SX model.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Kia Telluride hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but it was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Kia is packaging a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology on all Telluride models, and several upgraded assists are also available. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard blind-spot monitoring
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia provides some of the best comprehensive coverage out there, with the longest powertrain warranty in the biz. However, it lacks the complimentary scheduled maintenance of rivals such as the Toyota Highlander and the Chevy Traverse.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance