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World Car of the Year: Kia Telluride

It's got room for eight and is Kia's largest SUV ever, but the Telluride isn't big enough to fit all the automotive awards it's collected since hitting the scene with the 2020 model. World car of the Year*, North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, MotorTrend SUV of the Year, and Edmunds' Top Rated SUV (No. 1 Mid-size 3-row) are just some of the accolades for this 291-hp, 3.8-liter V6 (262 lb.-ft. of torque) that's all about rugged luxury at an affordable price point.

Assembled in Georgia, Telluride is the first Kia designed specifically for the U.S. market. Available in four trims (LX, EX, S, and SX) with a choice of front-wheel or optional all-wheel drive, it is big, bold, and boxy, sporting a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude. It also has a surprisingly luxe aura for a mid-size SUV that starts at $31,890.

So far, it has received more than 60 awards from media outlets around the U.S. since its introduction in 2019.

Autotrader called it one of the Best New Cars of 2020. "The Kia Telluride is the best three-row SUV you can get right now. In every aspect, they got it just right -- space, looks, equipment, technology, comfort -- it's all there," said Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader. "A real high point is the interior. The clean lines and uncluttered look make it both functional and attractive. The understated elegance effectively splits the line between everyday utility and uncommon luxury. If a three-row SUV is in your future, consider the made-in-America Telluride. It's really, really good."

The Telluride's sophisticated exterior accents hint at its interior luxury. Main design cues include its long, broad hood and wide grille (totally retooled since the concept debuted in 2016 -- and for the better); bold, stacked headlamps that convey power and stability, clean side profile, cool inverted "L" tail lamps with LED stripes (standard on EX and SX trims); and sculpted rear skid plate with integrated twin exhaust tips (standard on S, EX, and SX trims).

Overall dimensions are 197" L x 78" W x 69" H.

Key drive features include an 8-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel independent suspension; strong, stiff, and torsionally rigid body structure thanks to a monocoque shell that is composed of 59.4 percent advanced high-strength steel; self-leveling rear suspension; available active on-demand all-wheel drive; standard towing rated up to 5,000 lb; and downhill Brake Control (DBC) to maintain a controlled descent on steep roads.

The Telluride can be outfitted with an array of advanced technology and driver-assistance systems. Many features are firsts for any Kia SUV, including:

  • Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist Rear (BCA-R);
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision/Avoidance Assist (RCCA);
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA);
  • Safe Exit Assist (SEA);
  • Highway Driving Assist (HDA) [standard on EX and SX];
  • HeadUp Display (HUD) [available on SX];
  • Driver Talk [standard on EX and SX];
  • Quiet Mode (mutes all but front speakers) [standard on EX and SX]; and
  • Rear Occupant Alert with Ultrasonic Sensors.

Telluride is packed with high-tech, advanced automotive technology, including the "Kia Drive Wise" suite of Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, and a long list of standard and optional equipment. Highlights include:

  • Available 10.25-in. color touchscreen with rear view monitor and parking guidance;
  • Available 630-W, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system with Quantum Logic Surround Sound and Clari-Fi;
  • Available wireless smartphone charging;
  • Available six total USB charging ports (two in each row), with five ports standard;
  • Available multi-Bluetooth wireless connectivity that allows two phones to connect simultaneously for audio streaming;
  • 7 airbags (dual front advanced air bags, dual front seat-mounted side air bags, side curtain air bags, driver's side knee air bag).

Telluride also features a Rear Occupant Alert. The system produces audible alarms when its ultrasonic sensors detect child or pet movement in the second and third row after the car's doors have been locked.

The Kia Telluride won a 2020 Autotrader 10 Best Car Interiors Under $50,000 award. Autotrader judges were impressed by the SUV's interior quality, comfort, and value within its segment.

"Most people spend several hours inside their vehicles each week, so interior features are extremely important when determining which new car to buy," said Tara Trompeter, Autotrader managing editor. "Kia's Telluride arguably is the best execution of the three-row SUV formula to date. While any Telluride offers a modern interior complete with forward-looking features, it's the SX model that really wows us. The top-spec Telluride comes with Nappa leather seating available in four different upscale hues, a premium headliner, and simulated wood trim."

Add to that there is still 21 cu. ft of space behind the third row of seats, and you've got an SUV with plenty of room to go and grow.

Kia Telluride Horizon Roamer tradeshow configuration.



Kia Telluride Desert Drifter tradeshow configuration.



Pricing starts at $31,890 (LX), $34,290 (S), $37,290 (EX), and $41,790 (SX). Find out more at

*The winners of the World Car Awards are decided by an independent international jury comprising 86 highly experienced, well-respected automotive journalists from 24 countries around the world.

Source: Kia Motors America

Published May 2020

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