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2020 Kia Telluride Performance

U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Kia Telluride Performance Review


Performance: 7.3

The 2020 Kia Telluride is a good family SUV. Its engine provides plenty of power for around-town and freeway driving, and its suspension lets you cruise over most rough roads with minimal disruption. However, some rivals have sharper handling.

  • "Another thing that impresses about the Telluride is the noise level; it’s really quiet in there. No road noise, wind noise or engine noise. Or almost none. Well-done Kia!" -- Autoweek
  • "… the Telluride doesn't really distinguish itself in terms of driving experience. There's no doubt it's an excellent vehicle, but it drives a lot like everything else in this segment, without any noticeable unique traits to back up its boxy, brawny styling. I don't say this as a complaint, since it's perfectly competent and excellent in every way -- but you shouldn't expect the Telluride to deliver a driving experience that's different from rivals, because it won't. Instead, you get the same effortless steering, the same good passing power and the same excellent visibility. The Telluride also offers all the usual active safety technology. It is, put simply, very good, but not distinctive." -- Autotrader
  • "Behind the wheel, the Telluride doesn't offer the sharp, fun handling of the Stinger or other sporty Kias. There's lots of body roll, but it's well-controlled, as the suspension sets itself nicely through a corner while maintaining composure over big bumps and undulations. A self-leveling rear suspension is available with the optional tow package, but our test vehicle was not so-equipped. Despite the big dimensions and boxy look, the Telluride doesn't have the sort of heavyweight feel to its ride and driving experience one gets with big luxury models or even a Volkswagen Atlas." -- Autoblog

 Acceleration and Power

Powering every Telluride is a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine that delivers ample passing power. It's mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. The Telluride comes with four drive modes: Eco, Sport, Comfort, and Smart. All-wheel-drive models add Snow and Lock settings.

This SUV gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. That's in line with estimates of V6-powered rivals. All-wheel drive drops fuel efficiency to 19/24 mpg.

  • "Choosing the high altitude and twisty mountain roads of Colorado for the vehicle launch was a bold move from Kia, as nothing highlights a drivetrain's inadequacies like thin air and steep grades. Yet we were surprised by the Telluride's capabilities on such a challenging test ground. It's not that we wouldn't like just a smidge more passing power from the 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, but the few times we did need to get around a slowpoke, the Telluride was capable, even on the uphill sections. The eight-speed transmission seems well-matched to the engine. It only noticeably hunted for gears once or twice on our journey, and even then, quite subtly. Subtle seems to be the key word for the Telluride's powerplant – it's quiet enough to go full throttle in a library without prompting even one 'shush' from an angry librarian." -- Edmunds
  • "It’s powered by a 3.8-liter V6, offering 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, which might seem a little low for a car in that weight class, but even in the optioned-out SX model Kia gave me to drive, that was more than enough for passing, provided you got a head of steam first. All that power goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission that puts in work so seamlessly you barely notice it, and comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive variants." -- Jalopnik
  • "At a relaxed pace through the mountains of Colorado (where else would Kia launch the Telluride?), this SUV is a solid performer. All Tellurides come with adjustable drive modes: Comfort, Sport, Eco and Smart (think: adaptive) are found on every model, but if you have all-wheel drive, Snow and Lock settings are added. Like a lot of Kias I've driven, there's a noticeable uptick in throttle and transmission response when I change to Sport mode, while the Telluride is a pretty cool-and-collected affair in the other settings." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

The Telluride is a comfortable crossover, and its suspension effortlessly absorbs road flaws. Despite this Kia’s size, it remains poised on the road. Some critics wish for more steering feedback though, and some rivals are more agile. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "The steering doesn't offer much feedback but it's fairly direct and nicely weighted, while the SUV's overall ride quality is cool and calm, soaking up uneven pavement with aplomb." -- CNET
  • "What’s more, the suspension tuning felt great, providing excellent ride comfort without making the vehicle feel floaty." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It really is hip to be square – at least if you're an SUV. The all-new 2020 Kia Telluride is the company's largest crossover to date, and it's a big block of a machine. With its wide stance, tall roof and sharp edges, it seemed almost as towering as the Colorado scenery we drove it through. But even though it looked like a motorized mountain, the Telluride rolled through canyon roads and the narrow streets of the ski town for which it was named with ease and precision." -- Edmunds

Off Roading

The Telluride is a decent off-roader, thanks in part to its 8 inches of ground clearance and all-wheel-drive Lock setting that enhances grip by delivering power evenly to all four wheels.

  • "On a mud course Kia set us up with, it didn’t work wonders, but it did noticeably help stabilize things in a situation—cold, wet clay—where any car would’ve had a hard time finding grip." -- Jalopnik
  • "On the drive back we took a couple-mile detour on a dirt road. The Telluride has eight inches of ground clearance and, in our SX model, it also had all-wheel drive, so you could feel fairly confident going around in the dirt and extending your adventuring beyond what you might try in a sedan, for instance. The dirt road was freshly graded, wide and flat, so, naturally, I switched off traction control and tried a few Scandanavian (sic) flicks. While the back end did slide around maybe three inches when really pushed, it was hard to make such a sedate crossover flail." -- Autoweek
  • "With 8.0 inches of ground clearance, the Telluride is capable of taking the path slightly less traveled. And when traction is paramount, one can select AWD Lock mode, which evenly distributes torque to the front and rear axles. Using the brakes to impersonate limited-slip differentials, torque is biased across the axles to the wheels that need it most. The system also works on the tarmac to assist rotation when cornering." -- Car and Driver
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2020 Kia Telluride

MSRP: $31,890 - $43,790

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