* Model: 2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
* Exterior color: Gravity Grey
* Interior color: Black
* Engine: 3.8-liter, V-6
* Horsepower: 291
* Transmission: eight-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 24 mpg highway, 19 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Kia of Chattanooga, 2136 Chapman Road
* Price (as tested): $46,860
A friend, just back from a recent road trip, remarked that he saw several new 2020 Kia Telluride SUVs on the highway.
I found his observation interesting. The 2020 Kia Telluride is a brand new three-row SUV, so there can't be many out there. It follows, then, that the new mid-sized SUV from the Korean car-maker must be so distinctive that it stands out in a crowd.
Meanwhile, the workhorses of the segment — Toyota Highlanders and Honda Pilots and Ford Explorers — just sort of blend into the scenery. Same for the Kia's somewhat smaller mid-size SUV the Sorento.
After a week driving a new Gravity Grey Telluride, provided by the manufacturer, it became clear that the SUV is something of a head turner, probably because it looks vaguely like a Land Rover — a more expensive SUV line that has become a suburban status symbol.
Tellurides are beginning to show up locally. Kia of Chattanooga, on Chapman Road, had two of the SUVs in digital inventory late last week.
WHAT IS IT
A three-row, eight-passenger SUV that becomes Kia's flagship crossover. It competes with the Chattanooga-made Volkswagen Atlas among other models. Tellurides equipped with second-row captains chairs, like our tester, seat seven.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Our top-of-the-line SX AWD tester rings up at $46,860, which sounds like a lot but is actually a couple of thousand dollars less than similarly equipped competitors. But that's always been Kia's philosophy, offer more for less. A base Telluride LX starts at $32,735; move up to the S trim for $35,035 or the EX for $38,135.
WHAT WE LIKED
Our log book was brimming with "likes." Some of our favorite features on the Telluride were the 10.3-inch touchscreen, the quilted Nappa leather seat coverings, the stout 291-horsepower V-6 engine, the heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats and 20-inch black finished alloy wheels.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Those gorgeous seats began to feel a little over firm in a long stretch of rush-hour traffic, and the silhouette does feel a touch derivative of that particular luxury brand. A combined city/highway fuel economy of 21 mpg is nothing to write home about. Annual fuel cost is estimated at $1,950.
The Telluride has a smooth, quiet ride that remained remarkably composed on our mountain commute. The 20-inch wheels and lower-profile tires do add a little harshness.
The Telluride, and its corporate cousin the Hyundai Palisade, are worthy additions to the three-row SUV segment. Time will tell if the emphasis on value and styling will pay off for Kia.
ONLINE: In the market for a new vehicle? To access hundreds of Mark Kennedy's Chattanooga Test Drive columns visit www.timesfreepress.com/testdrive.