First Look: The 2020 Kia Telluride

Katherine Evans - May 10, 2019

First Look: The 2020 Kia Telluride

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One of the ways we make looking for your next car easy, is by providing you with expert advice from our staff and from around the web. Today we’re taking a first look at the 2020 Kia Telluride and compiling opinions from leading car experts and enthusiasts.

Starting with its unconventional debut at New York Fashion Week in 2018, the 2020 Kia Telluride has made a lasting impression, and a name for itself, as a leading luxury SUV with some serious power. The Telluride's 3.8L V6 engine with 291 Horsepower means this three-row-utility-vehicle can really open up if given the chance, and its 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission and AWD capabilities make the "road less traveled" easily accessible to the whole family.

The Telluride is the largest vehicle offered Kia, and this spaciousness can be felt throughout its comfortable interior. The Telluride's square shape and somewhat boxy body harkens back to older SUV models, shying away from its modern counterparts' more aerodynamic feel. It's because of this design that the third-row seating works as well as it does. The Telluride can fit seven or eight passengers, depending on trim. The LX and EX boast a bench seat in the middle row, while the S and SX offer captain’s chairs.

Moderately priced, the Telluride's base MSRP starts at $31,690. But which trim of the Telluride is right for you? Let's turn to the experts at Edmunds.


There are four trim levels available for the 2020 Kia Telluride: LX (base), S, EX and SX (luxury).

Edmunds' 'Expert Review' reads, "The base LX trim is an excellent budget choice that comes with just about all of the standard features you'll need, such as the latest driver safety tech and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To get some useful SUV convenience features, such as a power liftgate and keyless access and push-button ignition, consider stepping up to the EX."

As Kia's biggest SUV, the Telluride addresses two glaring shortcomings found in its second largest model, the Kia Sorento. Namely: cargo space and rear passenger space - it has both in spades with a (maximum) interior cargo capacity of 87 cubic feet, 14 cubic feet larger than the Sorento's 73 cubic feet - and more space than some studio apartments in New York.

2020 Kia Telluride on Daniel Trail in Uwharrie National Forest

Photo by: Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics

While interior space and comfort are high on everyone's priority list, there are some of us who are interested in performance, specifically - pushing the limits of our vehicle's capabilities.

Ezra Dyer for Popular Mechanics writes, “Daniel is the gnarliest trail in North Carolina's Uwharrie National Forest. It's rated "extremely difficult" by the USDA Forest Service. For the [2020 Kia] Telluride, Daniel Trail was right at the edge of its performance. But the Teluride actually climbed [the trail], possibly making it the first Kia ever to reach this particular place on earth.” The Telluride's AWD Lock function evenly distributes torque between its axles, and coupled with its 8" of ground clearance, this vehicle is capable of some serious off-road action.

Dyer goes so far as to say, "The Telluride doesn't look particularly off-road-oriented." And he's right! With its 17.0 degree approach angle, 20.0 degree departure angle, and the supple leather/leatherette interior, the Telluride by all accounts should best be suited to open stretches of highway. And yet, it's surprisingly performative when it comes to more rugged stretches of terrain. That being said, drivers in the market for a true "off roading vehicle" won't be purchasing the Telluride any time soon, but it's nice to know how capable it is.

U.S. News and World Report

Let's dive inside the Telluride and check out its trim features on the base level and up.

Kristen Hall-Geisler for U.S. News and World Report writes, 'The [base trim LX] Telluride features an 8-inch display with Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and voice recognition." When you upgrade to the SX trim, the display "comes with a 10.25-inch touch screen, wireless charging, and a Harman/Kardon sound system."

One of the best features? Multi-Bluetooth connectivity, so two different phones can be connected at once, dividing the burden of selecting an awesome playlist for your long haul drives. And speaking of road trips, "The UVO telematics system allows you to plan a trip on your phone then send the trip details to the [2020 Kia Telluride's] navigation system."

This writer's personal favorite? While it may not be ground-breaking in 2019, the Telluride's ability to preheat the vehicle is a killer upgrade and one I highly recommend.

2020 Kia Telluride Captain Seats

Photo: Kia Motors America

Car and Driver

David Beard for Car and Driver also waxes poetic about the Telluride’s interior saying, “It's inside where the Telluride shines brighter [...] Thanks to the superb fit and finish, the attentive ergonomics, and the use of soft-touch ma­terials and attractive low-gloss plastics, this Kia's cabin could be mistaken for a Volvo's. The faux-wood inserts and simulated brushed metal are tastefully executed. [...] Its nappa leather, heated and ventilated second-row captain's chairs, and faux-suede-covered pillars and headliner provide a sense that you've just hit it big. Kia went all in on this one.”

And not just on the attractive interior! The base trim Telluride includes a slue of standard tech safety features often only found on upgraded trims:

DAW (driver-attention warning)
BCA-R (rear-blind-spot-collision avoidance)
FCA (forward-collision avoidance)
LDW (lane-departure warning)
LFA (lane-following assist)
LKA (lane-keeping assist)
PDW-R (reverse-parking-distance warning)
RCCA (rear-cross-traffic-collision avoidance)
RVM (rearview monitor)
SCC (adaptive cruise control)

Safety FTW (for the win!)

2020 Kia Telluride Cargo Capacity

Photo: Kia Motors America

The Car Connection

For a more in-depth look at how the 2020 Kia Telluride stacks up against the 2019 Kia Sorento, we turn to Andrew Ganz for The Car Connection. Ganz writes, "On our ratings scale, the Telluride bests the Sorento at 6.8 to 6.2 out of 10, [and] at the base V-6 level, we give the Telluride the nod for offering better value and potentially life-saving safety tech as standard."

While both boast V-6 power, are rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, Ganz differes from Dyer at Popular Mechanics in his opinion that "the Telluride’s boxy off-road styling is just for looks; neither vehicle will tackle much more than a dirt road [...] though the two crossover SUVs handle well and provide good isolation from bumpy terrain."

The Cons

While most agree that the 2020 Kia Telluride is a big improvement from the Sorento and a standalone success in the SUV market, it's not without its faults. The most glaring of which is the lack of available powertrain upgrades with each new trim level. Weighing in at 150 lbs. more than the Sorento, this additional weight seems to negate the slight improvement in horse power and torque.

Sorento: 290 HP, 252 lb-ft of torque
Telluride: 291 HP, 262 lb-ft of torque

Additionally, while its host of safety features are impressive, some lack the subtle nuance you'd expect with a price tag in the $30,000 - $40,000 range. Most notably, the adaptive cruise control is more of a jarring, dramatic break than the subtle deceleration one would hope to find on the Telluride.

Happy Carlease customers with their new 2020 Kia Telluride

Results are in, and the industry and our customers' initial impressions of the 2020 Kia Telluride are enthusiastic. If you're shopping for a luxury, three-row SUV, Kia's new Telluride is one to check out and Carlease can help get you the best payment possible!

Unlike traditional dealerships, Carlease lets you browse for your next vehicle from the comfort of your home or office. We work with several independent finance companies and will shop around the market to help you find the best lease deal available, saving you time, money, and hassle. Couple your savings with free home delivery and you'll see why Carlease is the easiest way to lease your next vehicle.

Visit today to view the 2020 Kia Telluride or hundreds of additional makes and models. When you’re ready, reach out to our leasing experts who are standing by!

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