The Kia Telluride has earned a 2020 Edmunds Top Rated Award, taking the win in its category to earn the title of Top Rated SUV. Kia photo

New Kia Telluride worthy of awards

Road trip shows why it’s an all-around winner

There are few new vehicle introductions that have been as memorable for me as my tester this week. First, I remember the Kia display at the 2016 Detroit auto show. It was broad and took up a ton of space. There were various trims and a clear marketing scheme for their new midsize SUV. Wow! I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of it.

Then, this summer, Kia came through huge for me, allowing me the first drive on this particular vehicle and graciously permitting me to drive my family to Florida and back for a vacation.

Of course, I’m talking about the 2020 Kia Telluride. Getting to truly put this SUV to the test with mass road time, for a family beach vacation, really gave me a great feeling about this new SUV. I was able to see all its merits and understand the direction Kia is going with the Telluride. Like many other mid-size SUVs, it tries to be all things to all people. That’s a challenging task, but boy, is the Telluride up for that challenge.

Its looks are fantastic. It’s not too flashy or gimmicky and should remain relevant for several model years. Kia’s styling department has done well with many of their vehicles and deserves praise once again for the aesthetics of the Telluride.

The grille is classy with a family-hauler vibe. The LED headlights are stylish and complete the front end’s look. The rear is one of the best-looking back sides on any midsize SUV. Usually this is where styling falls off, but I think I like the back of the Telluride better than the front. And that’s saying a lot!

From a performance end, the Telluride is refined and fine. Those seem like bland descriptions and in some ways they are. The 3.8-liter V6 engine creates ample oomph with 291 horses and the 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth. Additionally, the suspension provides a comfortable ride, even over potholes and rougher road surfaces. It was all-in-all a comfortable highway traveler for our trek from Ohio to Florida and back. But the handling was a little disappointing. The steering could’ve been a little more responsive. I suppose the only criticism is a very generic one and that I was hoping for a little more excitement from the performance. There’s nothing wrong with being solid and conservative when it comes to a midsize SUV.

For years Kia has made interior quality a priority, so much so that they’ve raised the bar for their rivals to push past the same boring touchpoints and do some more exciting things with interiors.

With the Telluride, Kia does it again with one of the best interiors for a non-luxury SUV. The interior is quiet and comfortable, and along with being spacious.

The infotainment system is intuitive, and the 8-inch touchscreen is responsive but also offers knobs as options for some features, too. My tester had second-row captain’s seats which allowed for plenty of stretching out for my teenager to put pillows, blankets and even a go bag near her for the 14-hour drive (most of which she spent sleeping comfortably). The third row is comfortable for non-adults but is quite easy to get in and out of.

Cargo room for the Telluride is tremendous. Behind the third-row seat there’s 21 cubic feet, including a hidden extra well that allows you tuck away more items and maximize packing space (road trip win!). The Telluride has a maximum cargo area of 87 cubic feet which is outstanding for this segment.

My tester was the top-of-the-line SX trim which comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, the aforementioned second-row captain’s chairs and an advanced Harmon/Kardon sound system.

My tester also came with the SX Prestige Package which had nappa leather seats, heated and cooled second-row seats (which is a winner in Florida’s hot sun) and rain-sensing wipers (again a winner in the fickle Florida weather). Base price of my tester was $43,490. With options and packages, my tester had a final MSRP of $46,860.

The Telluride could’ve been a little more fuel efficient as we had several stops to refuel, although that also served as a chance to move around and stretch our legs. The all-wheel drive Telluride has an EPA rating of 19 mpg/city and 24 mpg/highway. During my road trip I averaged 19 mpg.

This new Telluride is impressive and is a great new vehicle offering from Kia. It’s no wonder the Telluride is up for North American Utility of the Year. It’s worthy of nomination and honestly a worthy winner, should it win.

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