What's it like?
There’s no mistaking the Telluride for anything else. Its size is accentuated by distinctive, squared-off styling that gives it plenty of presence, and finished with nice detailing like the unusual orange, trapezoidal running lights.
The exterior style is matched by a classy interior, at least on the mid-range SX model that we drove. The wood and satin-metal dashboard and door trim look the part, and everything feels well screwed together. The front seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment. A 10.25in touchscreen with sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity is standard across the range.
You won’t be short of space, wherever you sit. Seating for up to three in the back takes the Telluride’s passenger capacity to eight, depending on whether you specify a second-row bench or two captain’s chairs. It’s still only children who will want to occupy those rearmost seats for anything longer than a short run in town, however.
With the third row down, the huge, flat-floored boot will swallow everything the average family will throw at it. With it up, Kia claims the 601-litre luggage capacity is still class leading.
On the move, the smooth-shifting auto’s ratios are well matched to the big V6, which is quiet unless pushed hard. Natural aspiration and a conventional auto remain our powertrain combination of choice for an SUV of this size, and Kia has nailed the calibration here.
The Telluride’s dynamics are nicely judged, too. Despite the 20in rims, the ride quality is good for this segment, which tends to be plagued with the lose-lose combination of soft body control and hardness over secondary inputs. We had no issues with the steering or braking performance, either.
Should I buy one?
Time was when Kia offered a dependable, value-priced alternative to mainstream Japanese and US domestic brands. It’s come a long way in a short time, though, as anyone who’s driven the excellent Stinger will testify. The Telluride’s sharp styling, premium interior and good road manners are priced accordingly – bang in line with the Pilot, Highlander and Explorer, in fact.
It’s a very different vehicle from the Stinger, but the Telluride is another success for Kia. Attractive inside and out, spacious and refined, it has the measure of its rivals, for now. Aside from the Hyundai Palisade, Ford’s new Explorer will also arrive shortly, followed swiftly by the 2020 Toyota Highlander – both riding on new platforms. The competition among family SUVs is set to get even tougher.