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Edmunds' experts test 200 vehicles per year on our test track. We also test them using a 115-mile real-world test loop of city streets, freeways and winding canyons. The data we gather results in our ratings. They’re based on 30-plus scores that cover performance, comfort, interior, technology, utility and value.
For the second year in a row, the Kia Telluride was voted as Edmunds Top Rated SUV. What better way to validate that decision than by owning one for a year? That's exactly what we did. What was it like to live with a 2020 Kia Telluride for nearly a year? What makes the Kia Telluride our favorite SUV for two years in a row? Find out as Edmunds wraps up its ownership of a 2020 Kia Telluride. This video covers what we liked and what we didn't, as well as fuel economy and other key attributes.
[MUSIC PLAYING] JONATHAN ELFALAN: When KIA first unveiled their all-new mid-size three-row SUV, it took many by surprise, including us. But appearances can fade fast in the absence of substance. So we reserved judgment until we could get behind the wheel. And then we did. And wow. Soon after, we named the Telluride the best mid-sized three-row SUV on the market and have since awarded it the distinction of Edmunds top-rated SUV for two years in a row. You can check out those videos right after you finish watching this one. So quite simply, we wanted to see if the Telluride could remain beyond reproach if we brought one in and drove it around for a year. You can read all about our experiences with this car, as well as many others, on the Edmunds long-term road test blog. Now Edmunds will, in many cases, buy our vehicles off the dealer lot for such tests like this, but that can start to add up quickly, and we don't have unlimited monopoly bucks to play with. So in some cases like this, a manufacturer will loan us a vehicle. The Telluride joined our fleet in August of 2019, and we typically aim to put about 20,000 miles on our cars within a year. Well, 2020 was a year of challenges, to say the least. So, as of January 20, 2021, we've only accrued about 16,000 miles. Nevertheless, we've had enough time behind the wheel to tell you all about the things we like, some things we didn't like, and have some ownership advice if you plan on getting a Telluride in the future. If you like these sorts of videos, give us one of these-- [POP] --and be sure to subscribe to this channel. [DING] The trim structure for the Telluride is a bit like a prefixed menu in that there aren't a lot of a la carte options. Now this helps to keep things simple on both sides of the transaction. But what that does mean is you could end up paying more for features you want and wind up with features you won't even use. Front wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option, but all Tellurides come with a 3.8 liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. We opted for the SX trim with all wheel drive, which is essentially the top level configuration that comes with all the modern amenities you can think of, minus the one package you can tack on for things like leather upholstery and heated and ventilated second row seats. Hey, the kids have to build character somehow, right? We did spring for the optional tow package, though, which includes a hitch and a wiring harness as well as a self-leveling rear suspension. The grand total for this sweet ride-- $45,860. So we'll cut to the chase. Did the Telluride lose its luster after a year of ownership? The short answer is no. We still picked it as a top SUV going into 2021 even after a higher degree of scrutiny it went through as one of our long-term test cars. Is it faultless? Also no, but we'll get to that in a minute. [DOOR THUMPS SHUT] A key stand out quality of the Telluride, and what immediately impressed our staff, is how comfortable it is. Many commended the cabin for its quietness, and one team member even described the seats as extremely comfortable after spending 12 hours behind the wheel. I mean, the only place I'd want to spend 12 hours is my bed. You can configure the Telluride as either a seven or eight-seater, but we prefer the seven-seater's second row captain's chairs. It's like having a second row of front seats. So you have three chances to call shotgun. Shotgun! Shotgun! Shotgun! I win. If only I had three chances to ask Britney Middleton out in high school. Tsk. SPEAKER: I know. I know. Oh, we're still rolling. JONATHAN ELFALAN: Oh [BLEEP]. What's probably even more rare for this class is the comfort and access to the third row. Now, the third row in most midsize SUVs are normally reserved for kids or adults in a pinch, but when I had family in town pre-pandemic these seats were used regularly for adults with zero complaints. There are only a handful of competitors that have paid as much attention to the third-row accommodations as KIA has. The release button for the seats is easy enough for kids to use, and the pass through is about as generous as it gets. The Telluride's climate control system was an area of unexpected praise. I mean, it seems simple enough, but the vents are numerous, ensuring great coverage throughout the cabin. And the seat heat and ventilation is ridiculously effective. Now, I typically never use the lower heat settings on any seat, but the Telluride's is almost a necessity. Call us old fashioned, but we still think SUVs should be about utility first. So the whole fact that this SUV coupe-style trend has caught on continues to boggle our minds. The Telluride looks great without making any concessions to utility, which proves that it can be done. So to those other manufacturers, we say stop it. (SLOWED SPEECH) Sport utility vehicle. Now, cargo space, even behind the third row, is excellent, and we are especially impressed to find out that five-- five-- regulation-size carry-ons would fit back here without obstructing the view out the back window. Now I personally fold the second and third row pretty often, so it's important that it's convenient to do, which it is. One possible drawback though is the manual fold-only third row. It's about as simple and effective as it gets, but having a power fold option would be nice. All right. A couple of cool things here. There's actually additional underfloor storage, but you can drop this down a level to create a deeper well behind the third row for taller suitcases. And there's even a space to store the luggage cover when you don't need it, and you can access the spare tire release right here as well. KIA's smart trunk feature, which automatically opens the hatch just by standing next to it, can be good and bad. If you like to do the single trip, arms full of groceries thing like I do, then you'll really appreciate this feature, but it can also be really annoying, too. For instance, I like to water my plants when I get home, and the way I park in my driveway, I'm often lingering around the trunk area with the hose. So I have to deliberately move out of range before the fourth beep or I get whacked by the rear hatch. Happens when I take the trash cans out, too, which is often enough that I've considered turning off the feature entirely. Another area where the Telluride isn't quite as good as the leaders is storage for small items. I mean, you have all the typical storage areas like this arm rest bin, which is a pretty good size. You have a wireless charger area, which you can also store a few other items in. And you have cup holders with anti-tip so that your drinks don't go flopping around. But compared to other cars like the Honda Pilot, which just has massive amounts of storage, or the Hyundai Palisade, which has a really clever configurable area here, and the Telluride is just OK. A common observation from everyone on the team is how the Telluride drives like a much smaller vehicle. One team member called it wagon-like, which is actually a compliment if that wasn't obvious. I think it comes from a combination of great handling, easy predictable steering, and sufficient peak power from this V6 engine. But where this KIA comes up a little short is in low-end torque or that immediacy of thrust you feel right off the line. A few of us noted, myself included, that the engine feels a little gutless below 3,000 RPM, and this gets exacerbated if you're driving with a full load of passengers or at elevation. And while I don't think this is going to be a deal-breaker for a lot of people, it is worth noting. Also worth noting is that all Tellurides come standard with a suite of advanced driving aids. And they're some of the best in the segment, particularly, the smart cruise control and lane following assist. Now, some features are only available on the top SX trim, like the surround view cameras. But we love the cameras and would highly recommend them if they're within your budget. Now we'll take a little break from me yapping about this car and hear from other members of the team. [DOOR CLOSES] ELANA SCHERR: I've had the chance to spend quite a bit of time in our long-term Telluride. I've done some long road trips, and I've also had it just for running errands around town. And two things always stand out to me about it. One is it's really a handsome vehicle, and that is not to be underrated because you're going to have to look at it when you walk up to it in the parking lot. It's nice to be proud of it, like, oh, hey there pretty thing. And the other is it's just very nice to drive. It's well balanced. The throttle application is very smooth. And it just makes being in it so much more enjoyable. MIKE SCHMIDT: So our Telluride has a feature that, if you have the key on you and you stand near the rear hatch, it opens automatically. It's really convenient. That is unless you have a bicycle rack attached at the same time. I was unloading the bikes. I heard two beeps and before I could figure out where they came from, crunch! Right into my daughter's new bike. CARLOS LAGO: I like the Telluride so much that my wife and I actually bought one. I'm sitting in the driver's seat of it right now. It's been a wonderful addition to the family due to its utility, size, and comfort, and also how premium it looks and feels. This is a sharp-looking SUV that sort of matches the style that we like to show off. And most importantly, our 60-pound Jindo mix, Sadie, has really enjoyed the cargo area of this SUV. ALISTAIR WEAVER: There are a few people who really need a vehicle as big as a Telluride, but, believe me, it really is useful. I have a 20-month-old daughter, and the ability to fit a full-size, rear-facing child behind the front passenger without compromising their leg room really is a big bonus. Plus there's lots of space behind for all the detritus associated with a baby. I took it on two family vacations, one to Big Bear Lake here in California, another to the Mammoth Ski Resort. And both times, it was slick, luxurious, and supremely comfortable. In our fleet, we have both the BMW X5 and the Telluride, and the fact that it was often a tossup of which to take shows just how much we value the KIA. JONATHAN ELFALAN: As of this recording, there were two recalls on the 2020 Telluride and one technical service bulletin. Two out of three affected our car. The first one, which came in 2019, involved the passenger seat belt assemblies, which could be problematic if using them to secure a child safety seat. Our car was not involved in that one, but it was in the second one, which came in 2020, involving the trailer brake lights. Now, if we had a trailer hooked up and we're using the Telluride smart cruise control, the recall said that if the smart cruise control applied the brakes that the lights wouldn't come on. The fix is simple and it's free. KIA will install an additional wiring harness and estimates the repair time to take anywhere from one to two hours. But be sure to call your local dealer ahead of time because they'll likely have to special order the part just as they did for us. The technical service bulletin involved the rear window shade hooks. Now, in some cases, the hooks that hold the rear window shade in place could loosen or sometimes become completely detached. Ours were inspected during the routine service and were deemed to be fine. We have seen some complaints surface online regarding a possible transmission issue, but so far there has been no official recall nor have we experienced any issues with our car. On the topic of routine service the Telluride's recommended maintenance interval is 7,500 miles, and that generally entails an engine an d oil filter change, a new cabin air filter, and tire rotation, along with various other inspections. They also include a fuel additive, which is supposed to help clean up any engine deposit buildup if you're not regularly filling up with top tier gas, which already includes those additives. Now, by top tier gas, we don't mean octane. The Telluride is designed to run on regular 87. What we do mean is that you're filling up at any H known station and not Bob's Discount Fuel and Funnel Cakes. So if you're already doing that, then you can probably skip the additive. All in, including tax and labor, our maintenance costs totaled $237. You've probably gotten some advice before that you shouldn't buy any new car model in its first year of production. Now, while I personally think that there is some truth to that, it's not always a cause for concern. Our Telluride has had no issues so far. Like zero, which is kind of amazing. We realize that it's still relatively early in our ownership, but remembering that we have a five-year, 60,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty gives us pretty good peace of mind. When it comes to powertrains in this segment, it's pretty common for manufacturers to offer one option. For the Telluride, that's the 3.8-liter V6, which is rated to return 21 miles per gallon when combined with all wheel drive or 23 miles per gallon if you opt for a front drive model. Over the last year we averaged 19.4 miles per gallon, which is a tad lower than expected, but possibly due to a lot of those miles being made up of short trips in and around the Greater Los Angeles area. However, even with a few long haul trips under its belt, the Telluride only had a total of four tanks that either met or exceeded its highway estimate of 24 miles per gallon. So what's our Telluride worth now? The only way to know for sure is by selling it, but by using the Edmunds appraisal tool we can get a pretty solid estimate for our specific trim with options, mileage, condition, and location all factored in. So after tallying it up for our region and calculating based on a slightly higher than average mileage, our values came up to $37,000 for a private party sale and $35,700 if we were to trade it in. So, after living with the Telluride for over a year, it's safe to say that our recommendations stand strong. While there are a few small improvements to be made, this is one of the most well-rounded SUVs you can buy for the money, which is probably why you'll likely see them priced a bit higher than their sticker prices. With this being a relatively new car, only time and mileage will tell how well it holds up in the long run. What we do know is that we'd enjoy spending that time in Telluride to find out. Well, that's a wrap for us here. Thank you for watching and be sure to visit Edmunds.com for any and all of your car shopping needs.