It is a rare event when the entire Car Family falls in love with a vehicle, but that is what happened when Kia’s well designed and executed Telluride showed up for testing. In almost every phase of our evaluation, Kia’s eight-passenger, family-friendly all-wheel-drive SUV proved exemplary from design to performance. Kia has been one of the highest-rated vehicles by others and offers an exceptional warranty with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a lengthy 10-year/100,000-mile power train warranty.
Our test vehicle base price $46,860, but that included the $2000 optional SX Package that provides such niceties as heated and cooled rear seats, leather trim, and rain-sensing front wipers. The Telluride is new this year coming with a host of safety features as well as easy to modify seating and a generous cargo area. This Kia also had the all-wheel-drive option.
Generous package holders nearly everywhere with comfortable captains’ chairs in the second row that are easy to fold down allowing passage to the third-row bench seat. Kia’s power-folding second row seats are well executed, and the leather upholstery design is easy to clean.
The upgraded SUV offers heated and cooled front and second-row seats, dual sunroofs, and the doors open extra wide for easy access to all regardless of age or condition. The second row windows come with sunshades which are simple to use. There are LATCH car-seat connections for both the second and third rows. I found the materials and workmanship to a very high standard, and I am fussy.
The cargo space was 21 cubic feet with all seats in use and 87 when the third row is tucked below revealing a flat floor. Those are nearly class-leading figures. The Kia also has an automatic rear hatch, and the stereo could be utilized with real buttons.
The Kia also possessed dual-zone automatic climate control and the rear passengers have their own automatic temperature controls. The sunroof was large and easy to operate.
The most interesting thing to me was the number of safety features the rig offered. The blind-spot monitoring was excellent with both visual and audio notifications when something was lurking alongside. As well, the high beams were automatic and when you activated the turn signals a camera showed what was next to the vehicle in the direction you were turning proving very handy in spotting pedestrians and bike riders. The heads-up display was clear and when parking the monitor showed what was around you from an aerial perspective. But wait, there is more. A Quiet Mode and Driver Talk enable the driver to project one’s voice through the rear speakers and hush the crowd.
So, to summarize, if you need a mid-sized SUV, this is the one to test drive first. It is not as fuel-friendly as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid or as fun to drive as the Mazda CX-9 but is comforting.
With above-average reliability, a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 291 horsepower mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with a choice of four driving controls, makes the Telluride performance exceptional. We used the Smart mode the most because it learned how we wanted to drive, supplying downshifts when appropriate. The Eco mode muted the performance in the interests of gas mileage, while Sport mode made the shifts sharper. The Comfort mode smoothed the ride.
We averaged a little over 20 mpg in mixed driving with over 25 on the highway. We always used the automatic stop/start feature working which is as good as the Toyota Prius in smoothness. There was no problem with merging on busy roads or passing with little noise coming from the engine bay.
Although this Kia is fairly large, it does not feel that way especially parking in tight spaces. The ride quality is good as it is well composed over most surfaces, and Kia’s optional all-wheel-drive system matched with good ground clearance make it useful in more challenging road situations.
Overall, this was a terrific vehicle with thoughtful touches everywhere as well as a solid power train with responsive brakes. Even the windshield wiper coverage was excellent. Since this is a utility vehicle you might want to consider the optional towing package that comes with a self-leveling rear suspension. I especially liked the comfort provided by the 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. I drive a Porsche Macan S, and except for performance and handling at speed, this Kia measures up well.
Young Man’s View
Kia’s information system is very good. The Telluride offers Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and six USB ports. A navigation system, 10.25-inch touch screen, a heads-up display, wireless phone charging, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, all work well to provide a world-class entertainment center with excellent sound quality. The list of useful features also includes keyless entry and a touchscreen that is clear and readable in all situations. For me, it was too large of a vehicle, but the sound system technology was superb. Turn on the tunes while the miles melt away. Relaxing.
Young Working Woman’s View
Safety is definitely a priority with Kia and it has paid off with numerous items to keep your family fresh. The Telluride comes with a lot of standard safety features, including a rearview camera, parking sensors, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a blind spot avoidance system, forward collision warning, brake assist, pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. It also offers a safe exit assist, which does not allow a door to be opened if there is an approaching vehicle close to the vehicle. A must for any parent dropping off children. Add to that abundance are automatic high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers. All of these can be modified to suit your needs.
Blissful is my best description of the Telluride with four levels to choose, each offering more standard equipment but all of them have the same engine matched with an eight-speed transmission. The LX, S, EX, and SX are all front-wheel drive with the four-wheel-drive being extra. Some models have captains’ chair’s which limits you to seven people, but the second row bench seat adds room for an eighth individual. I would stick with the EX or SX, they are more expensive, but the many useful extra features are simply worth it.
Probably the best mid-sized SUV we have tested. The Toyota Highlander hybrid gets better fuel mileage, the Mazda CX-9 is more fun to drive, but the Telluride is the most relaxing. The transmission is always on task and the suspension noteworthy. The brakes are reassuring, and the Torque Vectoring Cornering Control keeps the Kia brave even on tight corners. On a long trip, the adaptive cruise control did as it was instructed and kept us a safe distance from those in front. If you strayed outside the lanes you get both audio and visual reminders to say on task.
We have no idea how Kia can make the Telluride better except to offer it in a hybrid version. The best thing we can say about this Kia is that we would buy it. The Telluride is that exceptional. No, it isn’t the fastest or gets the best fuel mileage, but for ease of driving, safety features, and useful features we love it.
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*** Photo courtesy of Caricos
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