The recipe for the Kia Telluride is simple: 5 m in length, three rows of seats offering 7 or 8 seats, approximately 300 horsepower under the hood and a towing capacity of up to 2,268 kg (5,000 lb).
This is the recipe for mid-size utility vehicles, such an important niche among our American neighbors, that they bought more than a million of them in 2020. In Canada, we are talking about a little less than 100,000 sales during the same period.
This niche brings together some fifteen rival products, the most popular with us last year being the Ford Explorer, the Toyota Highlander and the Volkswagen Atlas, at least if we exclude the current Jeep Grand Cherokee. Because, in this category, this vehicle won second place on the sales charts, even if it does not have a third row of seats. Not yet, but this spring will change with the arrival of the new Grand Cherokee L.
The intense commercial activity linked to this category explains the appearance of the Kia Telluride. Twin of the Hyundai Palisade, with which it shares the platform and the engine, this utility has a charming silhouette that gives it its own personality. Assembled at Kia’s West Point, GA plant, it has a very stiff unibody chassis and a 3.8L V6 that produces 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. An Atkinson cycle, direct injection, an idle stop-start device and an 8-speed automatic transmission allow this V6 to limit its average consumption to 11.3 L / 100 km, according to EnerGuide (11, 4 L in the case of the vehicle we tested).
Although it weighs two tons, this mastodon is surprisingly efficient. It cuts down to 100 km / h in just over 7 seconds and its sustained resumes are instantaneous. What’s more, all this is accomplished with the exemplary flexibility of its automatic transmission; a gearbox that can be used more finely thanks to the manual mode (controlled only by the gear lever, on the console). To this is added a powerful braking adapted to the horde of horses housed under the hood.
Unlike the Palisade, whose entry-level version comes with only two-wheel drive (front), all versions of the Telluride have all-wheel drive. This is a logical choice on the part of the manufacturer, given the small number of Tellurides sold in the country annually (just over 2,000 in 2020). But the driver will not have to complain about it, since this system makes the vehicle more practical and more efficient in snow, in the rain, on a dirt road, etc.
Photo: Frédéric Mercier
The judicious calibration of the independent suspension gives this vehicle a smooth ride, which effectively masks the condition of our road network. We also appreciate the very successful soundproofing that we benefit from in the huge cabin. After all, this utility does not have a prestigious name like Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or Cadillac!
The Telluride has an engine management system offering five modes: Smart, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Snow (or all-terrain), the latter being subdivided into three sub-modes for snow, mud and sand. . This system makes it possible to better adapt the vehicle to various conditions of use by modifying the settings of the engine, the gearbox and the power steering, but also of the self-leveling rear suspension reserved for the two top-of-the-range versions: the SX Limited and the new SX Limited Nocturne which is entirely black (Nightsky in English Canada and Nightfall in the United States).
To these two richly equipped Tellurides are added the entry-level EX version and the SX, a notch higher. That said, we must admit that Kia did not skimp on the standard equipment, which is proving satisfactory. It features heated front seats, a leather-wrapped tilting, telescoping and heated steering wheel, an eight-position power seat for the driver, a three-zone climate control, and Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems. The EX and SX versions have 18-inch alloy wheels, while the SX Limited and SX Limited Nocturne come with 20-inch wheels. More becoming, the latter will however be much more expensive to put on winter tires. All versions, finally, have seats dressed in leather: synthetic for the EX, soft Nappa for the SX Limited and regular leather for the other two.
At the center of a classic-looking dashboard, enhanced with metal trim and woodgrain, sits a larger-than-usual touch screen. This 10.25-inch screen fits perfectly into the whole, without being overwhelming. In the three SX versions, there is also a second screen, 7 ”, housed between the two dials housed behind the steering wheel. In addition to displaying various useful information, when you activate a flashing light to signal an overtaking, you can see the blind spot images captured in real time by a 360-degree camera system. For the EX version, we have to be content with a small indicator in the mirror of the side mirrors, but, at least, the driver of this basic version has an obstacle detection system in the corners. It also has most of the other safety and driving assistance systems available for other Tellurides.
From the safe to sell
The interior of the EX and SX versions has two 60/40 bench seats in the center and in the rear, hence the eight seats. In the SX Limited and SX Limited Nocturne, on the other hand, the center bench is replaced by two bucket seats. But, whatever the version, we have the same gargantuan chest. With its 2,455 L, its useful volume is similar to that of a Chevrolet Tahoe (2,682 L). In addition, when all the seats are occupied, we have almost twice as much usable space as in the trunk of a Sorento 2021 (601 L against 357), a vehicle which is however not so small.
Some buyers might also think that Sorento is a substitute for Telluride. For some maybe. But the numbers speak for themselves. The Sorento is shorter (4.8 m), the useful volume of its trunk is limited to 2139 L and its towing capacity to 1,588 kg (3,500 lb). In addition, the occupants of the central and rear seats have less leg and hip room. In short, the Telluride remains the champion of comfort and versatility!