ON THE ROAD 2/7: 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD.SUBMITTED PHOTO
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2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD.SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Peter Perrotta

“What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening.”

Noted musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber penned those lyrics many years ago for the hit musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

While Kia Motors and Mercedes Benz aren’t creating any religious experiences – that we know of – these days, both these foreign car importers are certainly creating a “buzz” in the auto world with two of the hottest models on the market.

For Mercedes, it is with the newly redesigned 2020 Mercedes G63 AMG SUV. There is up to anywhere from an 18-month to 2-year waiting list to get one of these dynamic vehicles.

Moreover, dealers are getting anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 over the MSRP sticker price for these highly sought after models. On The Road previously reviewed the G63.

For South Korean importer, Kia, the “buzz” these days is with the 2020 Kia Telluride – an all new model for this manufacturer’s lineup.

Introduced about a year ago, the Telluride SUV – the largest Kia ever produced – has been
quickly gaining notoriety for turning heads, winning accolades and awards, and becoming almost instantly popular with the motoring public.

For this week’s column, I have the privilege of reviewing the 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD, after spending an enjoyable one week behind the wheel of this newly popular SUV.

“They are all being sold at a premium,” one local Kia salesman recently told me when I made a “secret shopper” phone call to his dealership. “Pricing is being discussed only when you come into the showroom. Everyone is selling them over MSRP,” he added.

Another salesman – at a different Kia dealership – told me that “on average” the dealers are getting anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000 over the MSRP sticker price and at that number, they are still finding it hard to keep these SUVs in stock.

So, after my one-week turn behind the wheel in the Telluride, was it worth the “buzz”?
I would have to say “yes” to that.

While, not perfect, I found the new Telluride bold and edgy looking, loaded with luxurious
interior accoutrements, and spacious and roomy inside, as well.

Some of the automotive critics have blasted the new Telluride for being a bit underpowered – since it lacks a turbo charged engine – but, I, for one, didn’t find this to be the case.

The Telluride SX V6 AWD I tested comes standard with a 3.8-liter “naturally aspirated” V6
engine married with an 8-speed automatic transmission and featuring an active “on demand” all wheel drive drivetrain.

This Kia V-6 produces 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 262-pound feet of torque at 5,200 rpm.

To be honest, I found this Telluride to be more than adequately powered. For me, it had ample power to get it going onto the on ramps on the interstate. Once up to speed, I also found it to have plenty of passing power on the interstate, as well.

The transmission shifts were smooth. And this SUV didn’t have any of that top heavy sway that some of the vehicles in its class can be called out for.

On the center console, there is a select control that provides the driver with four different drive modes – Smart; Eco; Sport and Comfort.

For most of the week, I chose to drive this Telluride in the Sport mode and found it quite an
enjoyable ride – as this mode affords this Kia to rumble down the road emitting a race car-like growl.

As far as fuel economy goes, the EPA fuel ratings for this Telluride won’t blow you away. It gets an overall rating of 21 miles per gallon – 24 mpg on the highway and 19 around town.

The folks at Kia estimate the average annual fuel cost to operating this vehicle comes in at $1,950 per year. This Telluride uses about 4.8 gallons of gas per every 100 miles traveled.

At the time of this publication, the Telluride had not received a rating yet for the government’s five-star safety crash tests.

The Telluride comes in four different models – LX, EX, S and SX – and is available in either a seven-seat configuration – with a second row of captain’s chairs – or an eight-seat configuration.

My tester for the week was the top-of-the-line SX V6 AWD that carries a base sticker price of $43,490. Added options to my test vehicle were a $2,000 SX Prestige Package; $210 for carpeted floor mats and $115 for carpeted cargo mats with seat back protection, and $1,045 for destination and delivery.

The grand total MSRP with the added options came in at $46,860.

Included in the Prestige Package is the heads up display; Nappa leather seats; premium cloth headliner and sun visors; heated and ventilated second row seats; and rain-sensing wipers.

This new Telluride model is the first Kia designed specifically for the United States market and is a product of the Kia Design Center in Irvine, California.

Personally, I found the exterior design of the new Kia Telluride to be quite appealing. If you look at the accompanying pictures, you will see that it kind of resembles a cross between the refined and luxury look of the Land Rover Range Rover HSE and the Ford Explorer.

While there are many things to like about the new Telluride, the one thing I didn’t care for – and this is purely a matter of personal preference – is that the independent McPherson Strut suspension tended to, at times, give this SUV more of a “floaty” feel or drive.

Personally, I prefer a more edgy or harder ride to my SUVs. I like to feel the road a bit more.

The top of the line Telluride SX V6 AWD comes pretty much fully loaded. Standard equipment includes: 20-inch, black finished alloy wheels; second row of captain’s chairs; 12-way power driver’s seat; navigation with a 10-inch touch screen; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; a Harmon Kardon Surround Sound Audio system; and a whole lot more.

For all that you get in this top-of-the-line model, I feel this Telluride is well worth heavy consideration for anyone looking to buy or lease an SUV in this class.

Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Comments and questions are welcomed. To contact him, email peter@capitalmotorcars.com.