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The new 2020 Kia Telluride cuts a stately profile.

FAST FACTS

* 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.

 

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Captains chairs add to an airy interior in the 2020 Kia Telluride.

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.

 


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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.

 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

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.

 

BOTTOM LINE

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.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

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The 2020 Kia Telluride's waterfall taillights are a distinctive styling cue.
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