Kia embarks into all-new territory.
Kia could have played it safe but didn't. Instead, it went, in its own words, "big, bold and boxy" for its new flagship SUV. Introducing the all-new 2020 Kia Telluride, a three-row flagship SUV designed specifically for the US and built in the state of Georgia. Its bold design is part of its mission: a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude with "rugged luxury."
Some of the Telluride's most notable exterior design traits include a long, broad hood with the latest version of Kia's equally bold grille surrounded by stacked headlights, an upright windshield, and clean but muscular side profiles. The L-shaped LED taillights are also new styling territory for the South Korean brand. There's also a sculpted skid plate featuring integrated exhaust tips to highlight its off-road capabilities and power output.
In short, the production Telluride bears a very strong resemblance to the concept version first shown back in 2016 at Detroit, and we're not at all complaining.
Under the hood you'll find a 3.8-liter V6 with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive is standard while all-wheel drive is optional.
Kia was keen to make the Telluride a seriously capable SUV with many off the beaten path capabilities. That's why it gave the SUV a four-wheel independent suspension, a rigid body structure, self-leveling rear suspension, and available active on-demand all-wheel drive. This latter system utilizes an electro-hydraulic AWD coupling that controls the multi-plate clutch plate.
The system is constantly redistributing power to the front and rear wheels based on selected driver mode, which includes Eco, Smart, Comfort, Snow, and Lock. The latter delivers power evenly to all wheels. Kia also says the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds and features downhill brake control.
Among the optional safety features are blind spot collision avoidance, lane following assist, safe exit assist, and highway driving assist. Like the exterior, significant attention was given to every element of the luxurious interior. The cabin can be fitted with double-stitched, quilted and padded Nappa leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated first and second-row seats. We particularly dig those grab handles for the driver and front seat passenger.
Some standard items include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, interior hooks to keep bags off the floor, and a ceiling-mounted climate control system. As you can imagine, Kia packed the Telluride with technology features like standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto while a 10.25-inch touchscreen, 630-watt, 10-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system, wireless charging, and multi-Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Four trim levels will be offered: LX, EX, S and SX, though Kia has yet to announce precise packaging offers and pricing. Sales will get underway later this year.
Photos by Samuel Weber