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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2020 KIA Telluride

This week we are reviewing the 2020 KIA Telluride in SX trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia plant in the United States and has an MSRP of $53995 CAD.

Fun Factor: 6

Can it Family: 10

Fuel-Friendly: 7

HWY-warrior: 8

Karaoke-Friendly: 8

Baby-Friendly: 9

City Cruising: 7

The Telluride must be one of our favorite vehicles this year. Yes, to this point we would even say that it's the best 3-row SUV offered on the market currently. It easily competes in terms of features and interior finishes against some luxury SUV's we've tested such as the Q7 and Land Rover Discovery. Yes, it may not be as sporty as these luxury SUV's; however, both are a lot more expensive than the Telluride. The Telluride still holds up well with its 3.8L V6 producing 291hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. KIA uses a traditional 8-speed transmission that shifts quite well especially compared to the competition that would use a CVT to get better fuel economy, in this case, the Telluride gets similar fuel economy and offers much more enjoyment while driving. In our real-life acceleration test, we've achieved 100km/h in 7.85 seconds. We don't have any official numbers from KIA at this time, other outlets have been able to reach 100km/h closer to 7 seconds. KIA somehow has managed to give the Telluride the driving dynamics of a much smaller vehicle, almost like a station-wagon. So much so that it felt more European, more driver-focused compared to the VW Atlas that from a German manufacturer. The steering feels tight while driving and only gets looser when driving at very low speeds.

Now the Telluride comes in 2 configurations either as an 8-passenger in the EX and SX trims and as 7-passenger version in the EX Limited and EX Limited with Nappa leather seats. Our model was equipped with the 7-seat configuration. Seating 4 adults in extreme comfort in the front and 2nd row, and the 3rd row is still usable for adults, one of the most comfortable 3rd rows we've seen. Kids will love being in the 3rd row as they'll have enough space on long journeys. All 3 rows are equipped with USB ports; everyone will be able to charge their devices. Gaining access to the back seats can be done quickly by clicking a button on the second-row seat. The Telluride is one of these vehicles where the whole family will feel right at home. The interior feels spacious and refined. The front seats are heated and cooled, and yes, the 2nd-row captains' chairs also have heated & cooled seats standard with the 7-passenger configuration. As we've mentioned before the offering from KIA in this segment is class-leading in our opinion when talking about interior amenities and could easily compete against luxury brands and no KIA hasn't given us any money to say this. The driver's seat is ergonomically laid out to find the essential items directly on the steering wheel. The only negative point from the driver's perceptive was that when engaging the turn signals, the center cluster shows a live feed of the side of the vehicle, since the Telluride is so long that checking your blind spot may not be enough and getting used to looking at your cluster when changing lanes needs some adjustments. We wish the video feed would display closer to the windshield so that your eyes be kept on the road, especially since the car has such a good quality heads up display that looking at the cluster becomes unnatural. The cabin is nicely lit up for 2 reasons; one is the panoramic roof which is separated in 2, and the grey headliner in our model brightens the interior nicely. The headliner also feels nice to the touch, suede-like, KIA calls it "Deluxe cloth headliner." The cargo of the Telluride with all the seats up is respectable; we were able to fit one stroller and still have space for shopping. The trunk really becomes impressive once all seats are folded down and it gives you a flat floor, allowing endless possibilities of items that can be hauled.

Now, how's the fuel consumption of the Telluride? In our test, we were pleasantly surprised; we averaged 10.4L per 100km; for HWY driving we were able to get 9.2L per 100km and for the city; we were able to achieve 12.1L per 100km. These results are even better than those KIA announces 12.5L per 100km in the city and 9.6L per 100km on the HYW. We were really surprised to achieve a fuel consumption so much better than announced because for most of our test drive, we transported the maximum passenger capacity and we drove it in a spirited fashion. When driving smoothly, we were even able to dip under 9L per 100km. Our test drive was done over 500km this included approximately 60% HWY and 40% city driving.

How's the does the Telluride hold up on the HWY? The driving experience and assistance make it the go-to choice when driving across the country. The driving assistance features, such as KIA's "Advanced smart cruise control" gives it a pleasant experience, almost as good as the one we tested in the Sorento. Due to the size of the vehicle, it sometimes felt more reactive when entering larger curves and finding the proper apex for a smooth cornering experience. This doesn't take away that it's one of the best driver assistance systems out there, better than the ones found in BMW's, Lincoln and coming very close to the one found in Tesla's. On hot days on the HWY, the air conditioning found in the Telluride does a fantastic job cooling the car quickly and removing excess humidity as quickly as cooling the car, including front and rear passengers. Thanks to the Tri-zone automatic climate control, passengers in the back can enjoy the cool air. What we also liked is the "Smart" function for the drive mode select. It adjusted the engine's response quickly when needed to be sporty or fuel-efficient or comfortable depending on throttle input. No need to change into Sport Mode or ECO Mode, it found the right mode without hesitation. Seats are nicely bolstered for longer drives and give nice lumbar support as well.

The sound system in the Telluride is the premium Harman Kardon sound system found in all models except the EX entry model. The sound is well balanced within the interior cabin. We had no complaints, on how music styles reproduction was performed by the system, especially for the price point the vehicles come in, it's a bargain. Now going to the infotainment; it's a massive 10.25-inch screen offering both Apple Car Play & Android Auto. The system is very responsive; it's also simple to use, the only thing we found is that our co-pilot would not be able to add a GPS location while driving. This is made as a security feature; however, it would be helpful to be able to use the voice command and stay focused while driving. The voice recognition isn't perfect, especially when it comes to street names that come out of the ordinary. Finally, it is refreshing going into the Telluride and compared to how other automakers try to integrate system functionalities without any real purposes, KIA has achieved to place everything accessible within proximity, logical layout removing that aspect that cars should be overly complicated. Everyone that accompanied us into the Telluride found it easy to operate climate controls and infotainment.

Now installing child seats in the Telluride isn't too hard, the door opens wide enough to get the car seat into the vehicle. The ISOFIX ports are slightly hidden underneath the seats; they're fairly easy to install however not the best option we've seen, strangely enough, a better option is available in the 3rd row where the ISOFIX port have their own enclosing making it a lot easier to attach a car seat. Only one ISOFIX port is available for the 3rd-row seats. Since the 2nd-row seats can move forward and backwards, they do not condemn entry into the car once a car seat is installed. You may push the seat back to access the 3rd row. The height of the vehicle makes it more challenging for kids to open the door by themselves, and they'll also need assistance getting in and out of the car. The cooled and heated seats on the second row are nicely placed on the side of the door within reach of children and not somewhere where only adults could reach. The USB ports are installed on the side of the seats; they are nicely packaged; however, children will have difficulty reaching them from there seat. If only one adult sitting in the car, this makes it less practical for them to plug in their devices.

Finally, how did we manage with the Telluride in the city? Strangely the large size didn't affect us negatively during our test as the steering wheel became looser the slower we drove, helping us effectively getting the Telluride in tight places we may not have attempted with other SUV's it's size. The camera provided gives good visibility around the car thanks to the 360-degree camera, the screen display and camera are of good quality. Different views are also available, giving a good all-around view from almost every angle. The length of the Telluride could make driving down to an underground parking lot a little bit more challenging. In the city, we wish that a mild hybrid system could help alleviate the initial delay in acceleration and at the same time, reduce fuel consumption when it is at its peak.

Why would we buy the KIA Telluride and what we liked: It can really seat 7 passengers, premium interior, easy to drive, lots of security features come standard, for its large sunroof, great value and all the essential items.

Why wouldn't we buy the KIA Telluride and what we didn't like: High fuel consumption in the city, challenging for young children to enter the car by themselves. The blind spot video feed within the cluster.

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