(Editor’s Note: Welcome to NAPA Knows New Cars with the 2020 Kia Telluride. This is not your normal new car review. This series focuses more on the nuts & bolts of the vehicle that are not usually covered by other outlets. The intention is to inform, not endorse. Ultimately the decision to buy a vehicle should be based on an individual’s needs and situation.)
The 2020 Kia Telluride entered the popular mid-size three-row crossover SUV market with a bang. Originally teased as a concept back in 2016, the Telluride rolled into dealer showroom reality by the end of 2019. It competes with other mid-size SUVs in the market such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander.
Kia spent a lot of time on driving dynamics and it shows with the Telluride. The 291 hp engine has more than enough power to move the mid-size SUV around. The driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Smart, Eco and Snow) are noticeably different with changes made to steering effort, throttle response, transaxle shift points, and more. Smart mode gives the best mix and learns from the driver’s own habits. But choosing Sport mode was a real surprise and made the vehicle quite fun to drive, especially in mixed city driving.
The long wheelbase gives a smooth ride on the highway but doesn’t make for an overly large turning circle. Maneuvering around town was easy as the vehicle does not feel like a large SUV. When equipped with the optional surround view monitor system, parking is a no-sweat affair thanks to the full complement of perimeter cameras.
A number of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are standard across the Telluride model line, including blind spot collision avoidance, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic warning, rear parking distance warning, and more. These aids are becoming more and more commonplace across the industry and are a welcome addition.
For a mid-size SUV, the Telluride makes extremely good use of its interior space. Front bucket seats have plenty of room, but are not crowded against the door panel or center console. The center console has two cup holders, a smaller change cubby, and a large forward storage area with a built-in wireless phone charger. USB charging ports are located throughout the vehicle interior so everyone can stay powered up on long trips.
In seven seat configuration the middle row has plenty of space for adults, and enough room between the captain chairs to access the rear seat without gymnastics. The heated/cooled middle row seats are a nice luxury feature at this price point. Third row seats are serviceable for adults and not just for toting kids. With the 60/40 third row bench seats folded flat there is an impressive amount of storage room. With all three rows of seat in use storage space shrinks but is still enough for a weekend trip with soft side luggage. The hidden storage compartment under the rear cargo area floor adds a few more cubic feet of creative storage.
When equipped with the factory towing package (available on EX and SX models only) the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. The factory towing package includes a hitch and self-leveling rear suspension. When pulling a trailer that does not have it’s own braking system, the Telluride can pull up to 1,650 pounds. Towing a trailer with its own braking system raises the towing weight limit to 5,000 pounds. Unfortunately the review vehicle was not equipped with the towing package, so real-world towing impressions are unavailable at this time.
Of special note is the above mentioned self-leveling rear suspension. This trick setup uses special shock absorbers that are able to correct ride height without the need of an external compressor or other power. It is able to sense a change in ride height and “pumps up” the internal pressure to correct it. Since the system is mechanical, it takes a mile or two for the shocks to adjust themselves to the correct height. This is unlike the more common pneumatic systems that will simply kick on an air compressor raise the suspension accordingly.
The engine of the Telluride is transverse mounted with a decent amount of access room along the front and both sides. The air filter is located on the driver side and is easily serviced. Replacing the air filter requires no tools, simply flip open the filter access door, turn the filter lock levers, and pull out the filter. The battery is also located on the driver side of the engine compartment.
The oil filter is located underneath the engine on the passenger side protected by a plastic skid plate. The skid plate is easily removed with a few 10mm sockets. You will need a large 27mm socket or wrench to remove the oil filter cartridge. The engine holds 6.87 quarts of oil (6.5 liters metric) and uses SAE 5W-30 oil which is easily available. The oil filler cap and oil dipstick are within easy reach at the front of the engine compartment.
The automatic transaxle holds 7.4 quarts of fluid (7.0 liters metric) and uses ATF SP-IV fluid. There is no transaxle fluid dipstick. For AWD models the rear differential and transfer care units both use API GL-5 SAE 75W/85 hypoid gear oil and each old 0.74 quarts (0.7 liters metric). For those who pull a boat, take note that the owner’s manual recommends changing the transfer case and rear differential oil if they are ever submerged in water, so take care at the boat ramp.
2020 Kia Telluride Specifications:
- Engine Type: Lambda II GDI V6
- Engine Displacement: 3.6 liters
- Engine Horsepower: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Engine Torque: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
- Front & Rear Final Drive Ratio: 3.648:1
- FWD: 20 city / 26 hwy / 23 combined mpg
- AWD: 19 city / 24 hwy / 21 combined mpg
- Length: 196.9″
- Width: 78.3”
- Height: 69.3″
- Weight: 4,482 lbs. (AWD 7-passenger)
- Standard: 5,000 lbs.
- 18” alloy
- 20″ alloy (optional)
- 245/60R18 (LX, EX)
- 245/50R20 (S, SX)
- Front: 13.4″ Ventilated Disc
- Rear: 12″ Solid Disc
- Head room: 40.9″ front / 40.2″ middle / 38.1″ rear
- Leg room (max.) : 41.4″ front / 42.4″ middle / 31.4″ rear
- Hip room: 58.9″ front / 58″ middle / 43.7″ rear
- Shoulder room: 61.6″ front / 61.2″ middle / 55.3″ rear
- Seating Capacity: 7-8 passengers depending on trim.
- Telluride LX – $31,890.00 FWD / $33,890.00 AWD
- Telluride S – $34,290.00 FWD / $36,290.00 AWD
- Telluride EX – $37,290.00 FWD / $39,290.00 AWD
- Telluride SX – $41,790.00 FWD / $43,790.00 AWD
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on owning a 2020 KIA Telluride, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of this many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.