Review: 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

The new Kia Telluride is magnificent. Dare we say it’s the Goldilocks SUV. Not too big. Not too small. Just right.

Right off the bat, the 2020 Kia Telluride impresses. It’s the largest vehicle Kia builds, offering more interior room than any competitor while maintaining a sense of nimbleness. It’s loaded with advanced tech, high-quality materials and a level of refinement you’d expect on a luxury vehicle. The Telluride soundly squashes the Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot.

The Looks

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

The exterior of the Telluride is a hulking brute thanks to its solid, modern look with rounded curves. The SUV emits a commanding presence yet doesn’t look overly aggressive. The 20-inch wheels really give the Telluride a well-proportioned look. The body lines and designs are exquisite. It’s not too boxy or too jellybean. Somewhere right in the middle, the proverbial sweet spot.  The Telluride looks like it belongs at home in the city, next to a campfire and anywhere in between. A lot of thought went into the exterior of the Telluride, and it shows.

The Interior

2020 Kia Telluride interior. Photo by Mazda
2020 Kia Telluride interior. Photo by Mazda

While the Telluride SX V6 AWD might not technically qualify as ‘luxury’, the interior would tell you otherwise. The instrument panel, door panels and even the microsuede headliner conveys class. However, the wood is imitation and the silver trim rings around the gauges are not metal. Yet you wouldn’t be able to tell. All the materials look and feel right. The Telluride SX V6 AWD’s seats are leather covered and come with 12-way power adjustments, including lumbar support. The front and second-row captain chairs are heated and ventilated, while feeling firm and comfortable.

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

The third-row bench seat offers more headroom and legroom than any other midsize SUV – more than enough for six-foot adults. But the bench is short and leaves adult thighs hanging over the edge. Consequently, the third row is not recommended for adults on long trips. The second and third-row seats fold flat, allowing plenty of room for 4 x 8 sheets of plywood.

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

The Telluride boasts 178 cubic feet of space, more than any other midsize SUV. If you want more room, you’ll have to go large, such as with a Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition. Note: Our Telluride SX V6 AWD was a seven-passenger vehicle. Other Telluride models carry eight passengers, using a second-row bench seat instead of captain chairs.

Performance

On the road, the Kia Telluride is smooth, responsive and surprisingly agile. The SX V6 AWD is equipped with a 3.8L V6 engine producing 291 horsepower and 262 lbs.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic that powers all four wheels. The Telluride is not a rocket, but we found it confident, comfortable and fun to drive.

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

On the console, aft of the shifter, is a dial that lets you select a driving mode that varies steering, suspension, throttle and shift points.

  • Sport: offers a stiffer ride with quicker steering, throttle and shifts.
  • Comfort: softens bumpy roads
  • Eco: converts the Telluride into a gas-sipper
  • Smart: we assume this is based on a compromise algorithm.

The Telluride handles like a smaller vehicle, something we weren’t expecting from such a commanding presence. It’s also quiet, as quiet as any true ‘luxury’ SUV. We attribute this poise to Kia’s alchemy of unibody construction, superb mechanicals, advanced technology and excellent seats.

Tech

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

Our Telluride SX V6 AWD came jam-packed with technology features:

  • 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Harman/Kardon audio
  • Heads-up display
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

A long list of driver assistance and safety features include:

  • Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist – Rear (BCA-R)
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA)
  • Highway Driving Assist (HDA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
  • Parking Distance Warning – Reverse (PDW-R)
  • Parking Distance Warning – Forward (PDW-F)
  • Surround View and Blind Spot View Mirror
  • Smart Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go (SCC w/ S&G)
  • Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
  • Safe Exit Assist (SEA)
  • Head-Up Display
  • Rain-Sensing Front Windshield Wipers

The Verdict

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

The 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD provides class-leading interior room, suspension and drivetrain, and near-luxury refinement. The materials, build quality and technology raise the bar for three-row, midsize SUVs. The sticker price for our Telluride is $46, 860, and you might be wondering, ‘$50k? For a Kia?’ Trust us, it’s worth it. The 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD is the new standard for midsize SUVs.

 

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