Increasingly large, heavy trucks and SUVs are eating up our efficiency gains for fuel economy, crushing our car safety gains with pedestrian deaths. We know we can’t keep marching in this direction, but where does that leave the Kia Telluride?
Everyone loves the Telluride. It looks exceedingly handsome. It has tons of space. It offers great value. It even weighs less than I expected. I was sure this thing was going to be 5,000 or 6,000 pounds. The actual curb weight is around 4,200 lbs, give or take a few hundred depending on how you spec it. Fuel economy is dismal, with the best EPA estimate at 26 mph highway for the FWD model. Any kind of mixed or city driving has you around 20, per Kia’s own spec sheet.
We liked the Telluride a lot when we first drove it in 2019, writing:
Kia’s motto is “Give It Everything,” which they certainly have with the Telluride, both a blessing and a curse. The center console is a complicated mess—one Kia person approvingly compared it to the cockpit of a jet, which, nah—but that same approach serves it well in other aspects of the car, like with all of the safety features that come standard, the numerous charging ports and power outlets, and its massive cargo space with the third-row seat folded down.
The Telluride was designed in Irvine, California, and is built in Georgia, meaning there’s nothing really Korean about it at all. It is huge and willing to entertain even the most outlandish of ideas, and thus feels ideally poised to succeed in America perhaps more than any other Kia before it.
And we liked it a lot when we slept in one a few months later:
The Telluride version I tested, laden with all the candies and goodies, comes in at just over $41,000. That’s a good chunk of money. The SUV does feel like a premium vehicle, though, and I don’t see any major advantage to a more “premium” and similarly-scaled seven/eight passenger SUV like a Lexus LX, which is about double the price, at $91,230 for the three-row version.
Sure, the Lexus has about 100 horsepower more and can tow 2,000 more pounds (7,000 vs. 5,000) but is that actually worth twice the price? For most people, I doubt that very much. I don’t find the interior that much better in the Lexus, and I think the Kia is vastly and dramatically better looking than the Predator-faced Lexus.
The Telluride is big, for sure. Certainly it’s bigger than the Volkswagen Beetle that has been more than big enough for my life over the past few years. It’s about a foot shorter than a Chevy Tahoe, though, and isn’t as big as the real large family haulers that haul plenty of kids around this country. Is the Telluride a comfortable downsizing option for the really big vehicles out there, or is it just another easy, cheaper way to size buyers up from smaller cars and crossovers?
Or does none of that interest you at all? Do you just want to know how the infotainment works? I’ll have this Telluride for a week and will be doing all the road-tripping and people-hauling that I can safely do these days. Let me know what you want to know about this thing!