Twenty-five years ago, Kia launched in the U.S. with a handful of dealerships and a sedan remarkable only for its bargain price. But it wasn’t until this summer that the brand truly arrived. That’s courtesy of the Telluride, a big, three-row crossover, designed and built here for Americans.
The Telluride is Kia’s largest vehicle, but it’s by no means slovenly. The design team, based in California, sharpened the edges of the massive family-hauler archetype, and, as if pulling it into focus, returning the sport-ute to its burly roots. Curved lines are hard to find.
The Telluride’s on-road performance is nearly as sharp. Though the powertrain isn’t remarkable for the class—the only option is a 291 horsepower V6—it handles with a taut road-feel that belies its footprint. Steering is direct, and the eight-speed automatic transmission is deft. With the clubby interior’s matte wood and quilted, double-stitched leather, you might feel like you’re in an Audi.
There are also plenty of options most crossovers don’t have: Upgrade to the all-wheel-drive model and you can hit a differential lock to conquer a snowy driveway. A self-leveling air suspension evens out the car for better stability with loads. Safety tech, like lane-keeping and blind-spot assist, come standard.
I parked the Telluride at my house for a week and each night dog walkers and stroller pushers came by, making hand visors against its windows. Yes, sir, that’s a Kia. And yeah, it’s really good.
- MSRP: from $31,690
- Horsepower: 291
- 0–60 in 7.2 sec.
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 lbs.
- MPG: 23
- Third Row Width: 55.3 in.