Again within the 12 months 2000—keep in mind after we used to say the 12 months 2000?—my father bought a brand-new Kia Sephia.
I nonetheless keep in mind rejoicing over the truth that he had bought a smart four-door compact sedan for a lot much less cash than something Japanese or American on the time. The Sephia would function his each day driver whereas his 1993 Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo rested warmly within the storage and his Chrysler LeBaron Turbo coupe sat on blocks within the driveway as he desperately tried to rebuild the latter’s God-awful three-speed automated transmission for the second time.
Sure, my dad was going by means of his midlife disaster.
But his Sephia ended up being absolutely the worst vehicle he ever bought, worse even than his Okay-car-derived sports activities coupe. Starter points, alternator issues, handbook home windows abruptly dropping at freeway speeds, faulty rear defroster, faulty radio, glove field door abruptly remaining in your fingers as you opened it; his Kia had all the problems you possibly can think about.
He hated his automotive a lot that two years later he tried to alternate it for a second-hand Isuzu Rodeo at a used automotive vendor, the place he acquired $2,000 for his Licensed Piece of Shit Sephia.
“Korean manufacturers. By no means once more!”, he nonetheless tells me right now.
My dad’s expertise with Kia stayed with me all through my younger grownup life and into my profession as an automotive journalist. However as the corporate developed, shelling out higher, extra succesful, extra dependable and extra high-tech automobiles and SUVs over time, I finally needed to settle for the chilly laborious info: Kia is not the crappy different to a second-hand automotive that screwed my dad of his hard-earned cash.
For the sake of this overview, I promised myself (and my editors) I wouldn’t go down the “Kia is not an terrible model” narrative. It’s too performed out; that’s been the case for a decade now. However reminiscing about my dad’s expertise actually does show the Telluride is nearly as good as everybody says.
The 2020 Kia Telluride, By the Numbers
- Base Worth: $31,890
- Powertrain: Naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 | 8-speed automated | front-wheel or all-wheel-drive
- Horsepower: 291 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 262 pound-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm
- Passenger Capability: 8
- Curb Weight: 4,211 kilos (FWD) / 4,354 (AWD)
- The Promise: Plenty of crossover in your greenback.
- The Supply: One thing that may make you rethink Toyota and Honda possession for good.
What’s a Telluride?
In case you haven’t been following, three-row crossovers and SUVs (These phrases at the moment are interchangeable to all however the purists) are what medium- to high-income households at the moment are shopping for as an alternative of midsize sedans and minivans.
Each mainstream carmaker doing critical enterprise in North America at present has certainly one of these contraptions in its lineup. A few of the extra widespread ones, just like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, are gross sales juggernauts. The latter offered almost 240,000 items within the U.S. alone final 12 months. The Telluride, and its company cousin the Hyundai Palisade (which I’ll get again to in a bit), is how the Hyundai Motor Group conglomerate plans on penetrating this extremely profitable phase.
Thoughts you, it’s not the primary time Kia takes a stab at this type of automobile. It tried with the three-row Borrego again in 2009, which failed miserably at making an precise ripple within the phase. The Borrego was a giant and rugged body-on-frame SUV that was launched throughout an financial recession. It additionally wore a badge that buyers nonetheless didn’t belief on the time, not to mention a reputation that meant “sheep” in Spanish.
The Telluride, due to this fact, represents a second take for Kia, one which arrives throughout an period when shoppers can’t get sufficient SUVs, but in addition a time when Korean manufacturers are lastly trusted on account of their rising reliability scores and infrequently superior tech to Japanese opponents. The introduction of fascinating autos just like the Stinger and all the Genesis model additionally helped quite a bit.
Standing tall, lengthy, huge and correctly boxy, the Telluride appears the half, showing like a Korean interpretation of a Chevy Tahoe. I personally love its adventure-ready yellow daylight working lights. Yellow!
Whereas the entrance fascia is all Kia, the rear part elegantly tapers all the way down to vertical LED taillights that borrow cues from costlier autos, permitting this household hauler to return by means of as a novel and fascinating product. In a world the place all three-row “mallfinders” look the identical, the Telluride is the one you need your youngsters to brag about after dropping them off in school.
Maybe extra necessary is how the Telluride doesn’t borrow any styling cues from the mechanically an identical Palisade. And it ended up wanting a lot better, too.
As a matter of truth, the variations with its Hyundai sibling go additional than styling. Whereas driving on the identical wheelbase, the Telluride is a tad longer by roughly one inch general, half an inch wider and barely taller. The end result isn’t solely an SUV that has a typically extra dominating presence on the street but in addition a trunk that’s bigger by 18 cubic toes. Total cargo house when all seats are lowered to the ground can also be a tad larger at 87 cubic toes vs 86 cubic toes.
Accessible with entrance or all-wheel-drive (Canada solely will get AWD), the Telluride is powered by a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 good for a claimed 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. All of it’s despatched to the bottom by way of an eight-speed automated gearbox, which permits this behemoth to dash to 60 mph from a standstill in about seven seconds flat.
Moreover, the Telluride will tow as much as 5,000 kilos, which places it proper smack on the core of competing autos just like the Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas, Chevrolet Traverse and Subaru Ascent, simply to call a couple of.
Its beginning worth is a really affordable $31,890 and it tops out at $41,790 earlier than choices for an all-wheel-drive Telluride SX just like the one you see right here.
Why It’s Higher Than a Hyundai Palisade
I had the possibility to drive the Palisade over in South Korea throughout its international launch final 12 months. Again then, I used to be genuinely impressed by the quantity of refinement and expertise the darn factor supplied for the value. I additionally keep in mind being typically glad by the way it did every thing nicely—one thing my colleague Jonathon Klein highlights somewhat nicely right here.
So, when the Telluride arrived, I figured it could be a duplicate and paste act. Seems it’s not.
The primary impression when strapping your self inside a Telluride is that it feels much less premium than a Palisade, however simply as nicely put collectively. As an example, it doesn’t get the Palisade’s plush cabin supplies, nor an expensive-looking headliner, however materials high quality remains to be above common for this phase. The faux wooden trim that spans the dashboard does a bang-up job of showing actual.
The Telluride has principally has a extra mainstream and laid-back vibe than a Palisade, and that’s advantageous in case you ask me. It hosts standard analog gauges and quaint gear lever as an alternative of Hyundai’s annoying push-button gear selector.
Even the infotainment system is similar easy, easy interface as in a compact Forte. However it will get factors for merely working. Its presentation could also be a tad rudimentary in comparison with some extra premium choices, however the giant colourful icons, quick-reacting display screen and redundant bodily buttons are completely advantageous.
It additionally feels slower off the road than a Palisade, which most likely has one thing to do with the transmission’s programming. As a matter of truth, the parents over at Automobile and Driver clocked barely faster acceleration and quarter-mile occasions in instrumented testing with the Palisade.
And whereas the Telluride’s construction is rock strong, its suspension stays tender and spongy, even in its most dynamic Sport mode. In that respect I discovered the Palisade to really feel livelier and extra athletic, each in the way in which it accelerated and took on a nook.
Then once more, the goal clientele likely gained’t convey their household shuttle to the Nürburgring, so it’s completely acceptable for the Telluride to be on the gradual and tender aspect. It doesn’t apologize for what it’s.
Whereas demonstrating much less vigor than a Pilot, a Highlander or perhaps a Chevrolet Traverse when making use of full throttle, the Telluride’s naturally aspirated V-6 is immensely clean, quiet and adequately tuned for its supposed goal. There’s sufficient energy for the duty right here. It’s the identical story for the eight-speed automated gearbox. It’s no Porsche PDK, nevertheless it does what it was designed to do greater than nicely. I’ve seen a lot worse from Honda, Volkswagen, Nissan and even Ford.
Desperately In search of Flaws
The very first thing an automotive journalist does once they enter a brand new automotive is dig for flaws. Who cares if the engine feels like a Messerschmitt at full throttle if the cup holder gained’t maintain my espresso correctly, proper?
But, within the Telluride, irrespective of how laborious I attempted, I had a really laborious time discovering points. Its seats are tremendously comfy entrance and rear, the seating place is bang on, and all the factor rides so clean on crushed spring roads you rapidly marvel why some German autos costing twice the value don’t supply this type of trip high quality.
Rear head and legroom are ample, and the USB ports which can be conveniently nestled into the entrance seatbacks are neat and useful. That stated, whereas entry to the third row is comparatively straightforward, sitting again there feels bizarre whenever you’re an grownup. The problem is with the ground being positioned too excessive, resulting in your knees rubbing your brow. I counsel protecting that bench for the youngsters.
Lastly, the Telluride hosts a powerful array of semi-autonomous expertise. These come customary with blind-spot collision avoidance, rear parking sensors and rear-cross visitors collision avoidance help, additional fortifying their worth proposition. However I discovered a few of it to be far too intrusive at occasions. It’s a problem when your SUV beeps violently at you whenever you drive near a tree department in your driveway.
You can flip most of those toys off, fortunately, however the proximity sensors will flip themselves again on their very own the second you drive too near the subsequent tree. Annoying.
That stated, it’s laborious to argue in opposition to the quantity of SUV you’ll be getting in your cash right here. And any lingering reliability fears from the previous days can possible be put to relaxation for now. We additionally know Kia’s been sitting on the prime of J.D. Energy’s Preliminary High quality Research for some time. I additionally occur to know loads of Kia homeowners—partly on account of a pal who owns a Kia dealership, but in addition from individuals who remark by myself web site—who’ve had no notable points with their automobiles and SUVs.
So I’d say that sure, a Kia Telluride is value a shot, even when it nonetheless hasn’t fostered the indestructible fame of a Toyota Highlander. It is a tad extra “truckish” than a Palisade, a bit roomier and appears cooler too. Simply don’t inform my dad I stated that. He is nonetheless not a believer, however I believe I am making him come round.
I went over to pay him a go to whereas I had the Telluride. (This was all earlier than the COVID-19 mess occurred, in fact.)
As I pulled up in his driveway, all I might spot was his white flock of hair protruding from beneath the hood of his all the time damaged 2002 Land Rover Discovery, his poor previous again bent over as he bravely tried to grasp methods to substitute the top gasket on his ridiculously unreliable British SUV.
I pulled my head out the window of the massive Telluride: “Hey dad, how a couple of Kia now?”
(Kia Canada loaned me a 2020 Telluride for a whole week for me to overview. The automotive was delivered clear with a full tank of fuel.)
All pictures credit score Guillaume Fournier.
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