2020 Kia Telluride
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- 07 Aug 2019 06:13 PM
By James Park
Kia (Korean auto industry in general) happens to be that awkward teenager who returns to his/her high school reunion as a confident and successful adult.
Over the years, the company’s products have gotten progressively better, as well as more reliable. Once the butt of jokes for their sub-standard workmanship, Kia automobiles now consistently compete for the top spot in most quality surveys.
Kia seems to have found its groove.
With the Stinger, the company proved that it can build a stylish grand-touring sedan that can burn rubber and go around corners just as fast and effectively as many of the more expensive rivals from all parts of the world.
In fact, the ever-opinionated members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada liked the Stinger so much they voted it the ‘2019 Car of the Year.’
Unfortunately, the sedans’ collective appeal is waning – for now – and as good as it is, the Stinger lacks the drawing power to pull more customers into Kia dealers in today’s utility-crazed auto market.
Not to worry, because Kia has another weapon for such an occasion in the newly introduced Telluride. Stinger maybe the halo car, but the Telluride will surely be the favorite of the company’s bean counters.
As a mid-to-large crossover utility, the Telluride stretches just a little on every dimension over the Sorento, hitherto the largest Kia CUV sold in the North American market.
Built on the same platform as its corporate cousin, Hyundai Palisade, Telluride can sit seven to eight people depending on whether you choose two captain’s chairs or the bench seat for the second-row.
Telluride turns heads. Its wide front grill and the vertical sets of amber running lights give off a rugged charm and suggest the perception of off-road capability, as opposed to the Palisade, which exudes more urbane and buttoned down appeal.
The well-proportioned Telluride’s side profile shows a hint of Volvo XC90. From the back, one can see exhaust tips only at the right side of rear bumper. Personally, this writer would’ve liked to see one at each side. This hardly is a deal-breaker, however.
Climb inside to discover surprisingly sophisticated and luxurious ambience befitting a much more expensive vehicle. Materials used throughout have that high-quality look and feel and the cleanly designed instrument panel add to the posh atmosphere.
The leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel blends in nicely with the car’s rugged image. Both front seats and the second-row captain’s chairs are heated as well as cooled. As for the third-row seats, even full-size adults can sit comfortably at least for short distances. Of course, both the third and second-row seats fold down to create more than usable cargo space.
All buttons and switches are within easy reach and simple to operate. The infotainment system with 10.25 inch touch-screen deserves praise as one of the best in the industry. It supports both Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Kia’s UVO system also connects to the owner’s smart-phone to do all sorts of things like remote ignition and setting cabin temperature and so on.
The 3.8 litre naturally aspirated, Atkinson-cycled and direct-injected V6 provides power to either the front wheels or to all wheels as needed. This engine generates 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel this vehicle without any hint of lethargy. The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission seldom draws attention to itself, as it should.
For now, the Telluride comes in three flavours in Canada with the base EX model starting from $44,995 before taxes and fees. The SX and the top-of-the-line SX Limited demand $49,995 and $52,995, respectively. Add $1,000 do the latter for the Nappa leather.
The SX Limited test-vehicle loaned to this writer comes with army of active and passive safety equipments as blind-side monitoring, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise, 360 degree camera, front and rear cross traffic alert, to name just a few.
Another trick up its sleeve is the camera that shows what’s behind the right side of the vehicle when the right turn-signal is activated. The picture comes up in the small screen between the speedometer and the tachometer. Similar to the Honda’s Lane-Watch, the Kia’s system goes one step further to show also the left side of vehicle when the left turn-signal is on.
The test-vehicle’s equipment list also includes 20 inch alloys, head-up display, Harman/Kardon audio, dual sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, self-leveling rear suspension, among others.
As large crossovers go, the Telluride handles reasonably well and accelerates quite briskly. The normal-breathing V6 never lacks power and gets good fuel economy using regular gas. The steering feel is muted at best but this is a family utility, not a sports sedan.
In that sense, the Telluride shines. It is stylish, roomy, comfortable and comparatively inexpensive. Kia has hit another homerun with this. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2020 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Engine: 3.8 litre V6
Power: 291 hp/262 lb-ft
Transmission: 8 spd auto
Fuel: 12.5 litres per 100km (city), 9.6 litres (highway)
Best: styling, value
Competition: Hyundai Palisade, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot
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