April 07, 2020 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD

The Class Standard from the Rockies

While the Hyundai Palisade smoothly replaced the successful Santa Fe XL, Kia took a bit more time to develop its Borrego/Mohave replacement. The current 7-seater Kia Sorento is good but its third-row is just too cramped for adults. For perspective compared to the Sorento, the Telluride is 7.9-inches longer, wider by 3.9-inches and 2.8-inches taller with a wheelbase that is 4.8-inches longer. The Sorento’s old big brother the Borrego wasn’t a bad product but it just didn’t have the correct alchemy for its time. The Peter Schreyer-designed Borrego still soldiers on solely in the Korean market for the moment with completely overhauled designs and equipment. For the rest of the world however, particularly in the North American market, the larger all-new Telluride replacement, designed by Tom Kearns out of the Irvine, California Kia studio, not only makes up for it in every way, I reckon it is the actual clear best-in-class at the moment!

All the basic hardware maybe essentially the same as the Hyundai Palisade, but the execution and calibration are unique in the Telluride. The Telluride get its name from a small 19th century picturesque silver mining town once again in Colorado. A little trivia; the infamous train and bank robber Butch Cassidy (also the notorious leader of the gang of criminal outlaws known as the “Wild Bunch”) began his fabled career by robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride.

The Telluride looks really great inside and out. It can stand proudly against the best from the Europeans, as it is clearly the best among the Americans and Asians already. To be honest, if buyers truly don’t require serious off-road ability, I would recommend the Telluride even over the Land Rover Discovery! Seriously, it is astonishing how Kia built the Telluride so definitively better having started with the same canvas as Hyundai’s Palisade. The build quality and fitment are so good that the cabin quietness and atmosphere embarrasses both the more premium priced direct and indirect competition. For the tiny overall weight increase of 3 pounds over the Palisade Limited, the Telluride SX (our test unit came in Snow White Pearl with grey interior) is .8-inches longer, 1.5-inches wider, and .4-inches taller, resulting in a cabin that has 28-liters more passenger room and 85-liters more trunk space yet it drives like it is more nimble and energetic while simultaneously being more plush and tightly put-together. The mean-looking black 20-inch alloys are shod with well-balanced performance 245/50R20 102V Michelin Primacy Tour A/S tires.

The updated and lively Atkinson-cycle (with Idle Stop & Go) 3.8-liter normally-aspirated V6 engine works very well in the US but I hope Kia packages the Telluride to eventually use the more appropriate 2.2-liter turbodiesel for our market which produces more torque and would further maximize the new 8-speed automatic gearbox. Our Telluride SX test unit was packaged with the awesome 630-watt, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system to complement the well-designed 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The instrument panel is analog with a 7-inch information screen between the gauges but is presented a touch better than in the Palisade. The USB ports are generous and also include a Qi wireless charging pad. The Nappa leather seats, dual moonroofs, crisp HUD system, acoustic windshield and front door glass all contribute to a remarkable daily ride and drive experience. The signature full-LED lighting is also exemplary, the front beam arrangement accentuates its wider stance while the rear hockey-stick themed assemblies look truly upper-class.

Even without active adaptive suspension, the Telluride exceeded expectations particularly because of its attainability. The ride and handling, aided further by torque vectoring, are so compliant and mature. Passengers up to the third row will also love it because of its comfort and keen attention to customer needs. The Hyundai Palisade is already a strong and feature-rich product, but the Kia Telluride is still better. Yes, overall, the Telluride is better than its direct competition and it can be effectively argued against its more premium European indirect competition.



Engine V6, 3778 cc, dohc 24V, Direct Injection, Dual-CVVT, Atkinson-cycle, 8-speed AT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 291 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 262 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm


Top Speed 211 km/h (132 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 7.4 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 19 mpg City / 24 mpg Highway


Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 47,255.00
What's Great Attractive, excellent value, comprehensive, spacious and engaging, a touch better than the Palisade
What's Not So Not available in our domestic market yet, best packaged with the 2.2-liter turbodiesel.
C! Editors Rating 10/10
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