|Positives: Ruggedly handsome exterior looks premium, interior is fresh and original, roomy for all occupants, composed and smooth on pavement, Land Rover-like cabin details
|Negatives: So-so fuel economy, a single engine choice, infotainment lacks responsiveness, no power-folding third row seats.
|Bottom Line: The Telluride soldiers on for 2022 largely unchanged, but it's still almost as awesome as when it debuted a couple of years ago. Aside from its Hyundai sibling, no other SUV brings together style and substance as well as the Telluride, which explains why it's so unbelievably hard to find one these days.
For 2022, the Telluride gets adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speeds in sweeping turns, provides a larger standard touchscreen on lower trimmed models, adds automatic climate control as standard, loses the oval background on its logo, and receives a restyled grille/rear liftgate/and steering wheel cover. We drove the top trim SX V6 to see if the Telluride still warrants its numerous devotees.
It's hard to make a big SUV drive well since weight and center of gravity tend to betray it, but the Telluride does quite well, and time spent behind the wheel provides some satisfaction, if not actual thrills.
Ride Quality: The Telluride is smooth and composed but not mushy, just the way we like it. It has no problem managing bumps and undulations even with the big 20" alloy wheels.
Acceleration: The naturally-aspirated V6 provides sufficient power to make the Telluride feel potent. 0-60 comes in a hair over seven seconds, which isn't bad for the segment. The 8-speed automatic shifts well and had no problem dropping down gears when needed.
Braking: The Telluride has great brakes. Pedal feel is excellent, and there's progressiveness to the system. Braking distances are class-leading, too.
Steering: The Telluride has a steering feel like few other crossovers in that it's light but nicely increases in effort while turning. There's not much feedback, but the precision and on-centeredness are very good.
Handling: For a crossover this size, we were surprised by the minimal body roll. The Telluride feels composed and balanced in turns.
The Kia infotainment system is just starting to seem a tad dated compared to more responsive and better looking systems from GM, Ford, and Toyota. It still has good graphics, but it just seems a tad slow compared to newer systems. The good news is that the standard screen goes from a mere 8" to a bigger 10.3".
Infotainment System: The Telluride SX V6's screen is clear and has no visibility issues. The resolution could use improvement, as well as the graphics that are growing a bit stale. Features like the hands-free standard liftgate and the intercom for the third row are great additions to the standard set, as well.
Controls: The clean row of metallic-like infotainment buttons is large and sits below the horizontal HVAC vents. They're very easy to press while driving, and the steering wheel control are some of the best around. We also like the traditional gearshift knob, unlike the pushbutton system found on the sister Hyundai Palisade.
If there's one thing that truly stands out about the Telluride, it's the unique and premium styling that outshines SUVs that cost twice as much. It's hard to believe Kia builds something this attractive in a segment that so often seems lackluster at this price point. We can see why some buyers are jumping from premium brands to get the Telluride. Inside and out, it's gorgeous.
Front: The black mesh grille with the new pattern delivers a more rugged and sporty look, and the tall headlights with the amber LED signature match perfectly. The squarish fascia is a nice change from the slenderized looks from so many other crossovers.
Rear: The hook-shaped LED taillights look distinct and original, and we also love the big rear glass that looks almost frameless.
Profile: The Telluride looks like a poor man's Range Rover (who are we kidding, it's just as nice). Sporty details like the scalloped front door, black window trim, and black wheels look great from the side.
Cabin: The Telluride's interior s a melding of sport and luxury. The unique seat stitching pattern, the coin-edge bezel on the analog gauges, and even the excellent faux wood trim give the Telluride a premium look and feel.
Personally, we'd kill for a Telluride for our own large family. There's plenty of room in all three rows, and the ergonomics and materials are excellent. Sure, there's still some hard plastic in there, but it's all well-placed.
Front Seats: The seats are big and well-cushioned. The premium Nappa leather and soft headliner are also up there with the pricier brands. .
Rear Seats: Plenty of legroom and headroom for adults, and the optional Captain's chairs are great. The rear seats are both heated and ventilated, too, not something you find in SUVs costing way more.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Sound deadening is very good, as is the management of highway wind noise. Build quality is also excellent.
Visibility: Unlike so many other SUVs, the Telluride has big windows and well-managed pillar size, lending to great visibility all around. The cameras and optional Surround View monitor also work very well to manage tight spaces.
Climate: The big vents (three in the center stack alone) move air well. The heated and ventilated seats are responsive but not as powerful as we'd like.
The Telluride scores with excellence in crash tests and also comes with great standard features including accident avoidance technology.
IIHS Rating: The Top Safety Pick rating thanks to "good" in all crash tests and "superior" front crash prevention. It gets "poor" and "acceptable" headlights, contingent on trim, and "acceptable" LATCH ease of use.
NHTSA Rating: The Telluride earns a full five stars from the federal government.
Standard Tech: The list of standard features is about as long as your arm. The Telluride comes with Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist-Rear, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Highway Driving Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Parking Distance Warning-Reverse, Smart Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go, Rear Occupant Alert, Surround View and Blind-Spot View Monitor, and Safe Exit Assist.
Optional Tech: None.
The Telluride has ample, usable cargo space, but the in-car small item storage could use improvement. It's not bad, but we expect a bit more storage space in the front row for a vehicle like this.
Storage Space: There's a binnacle at the base of the center stack, and a small cubby in front of the cupholders. The armrest is decently sized, as well. The presence of a shift knob compromises some storage opportunities, unlike the Hyundai Palisade which has a pushbutton transmission.
Cargo Room: Cargo space behind row three is a generous 21 cubic feet, and the back gets 87 cubes with both rows folded down. The cargo hold opening is wide, the floor is nicely flat, and there's even a storage compartment under the load floor. The Telluride can also tow 5,000 pounds, which is as much as the new Honda Pilot
The V6 isn't exactly miserly, and that comes as no surprise. It's too bad there's no hybrid or PHEV powertrain choices for the Telluride, which would widen its appeal even more. The V6, however, provides ample power, and the transmission shift smoothly and without issue. We were able to come close to EPA numbers during our review period with about 80% of driving taking place at highway speeds.
Observed: 22.5 mpg
Distance Driven: 105 miles
The SX gets upgraded audio with the great Harman Kardon surround sound system. It provides strong sound with great bass and clarity. It's a n excellent system that's nice to have in a vehicle that looks and feels premium.