Kia’s contender for the full-sized SUV market

A lot has happened since Kia showcased the Telluride Concept at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, and at the time, we were told that it was a “theoretical exercise.” For the longest time, the trail went cold but the SUV market continued to grow and, to little surprise, we eventually got our hands on some spy shots of a large KIA SUV being put through the paces. With that in mind, you’re looking at a three-row, eight-seater SUV with will serve as a flagship of Kia’s SUV lineup. It has changed dramatically so far, so let’s dive on in and see what we can make out!

2020 Kia Telluride Exterior

2019 Kia Telluride Spyshots Exterior
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Heavily covered and padded, there’s not a lot we can make out from the spy shots, but we can see enough to know that it will vary quite a bit from the concept from which it is based

Heavily covered and padded, there’s not a lot we can make out from the spy shots, but we can see enough to know that it will vary quite a bit from the concept from which it is based. That’s not much of a surprise, however, as we recently learned that the SUV will borrow underpinnings from the recently unveiled Kia K900 sedan.

2019 Kia Telluride Spyshots Exterior
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Looking at the front end, it’s easy to see that those quad-LED headlights have been swapped out for different units that sit further outside and are more rectangular shaped with a vertical orientation. There also appears to be some mild, stinger-like vents in the corner of the front fascia as shown by the cuts in the camo wrap and a pair of circular driving lights closer to the grille. Those could be decoys for the fog laps we can’t see, but that remains to be seen. The radiator grille is well padded and covered, but it does appear to have the same print as that of the Telluride concept so some design will at least carry over.

2019 Kia Telluride Spyshots Exterior
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The location of the rear door handle has been moved to the rear of the door, but it does look like the same beltline will carry over.

The hood itself is padded by we can make out a stout body line on the outside, right near the seam between the hood and the fender. The fenders sport a mild body line, and the A-pillars have a very steep rake to them. The downside here is that Kia looks to have dismissed that slanted roof from the concept and has given it more of a curved shape, a very disappointing move, indeed. The location of the rear door handle has been moved to the rear of the door, but it does look like the same beltline will carry over.

2019 Kia Telluride Spyshots Exterior
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Around back there is a ton of padding so there isn’t much that we can make out. We can make out the dual exhaust outlets, however, these are more of test pipes, so expect different outlets and a different finisher on the fascia when everything is said and done. The taillights are in the same place, well below the glass of the rear hatch but they won’t be as fashionable as those of the concept. Despite all of the camo, the Telluride concept was pretty feasible on the outside when it debuted so Kia already had half of the work done and we’ll probably see a lot of similar design cues hidden below all that padding.

2019 Kia Telluride Interior

2016 Kia Telluride Concept
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Interior from 2016 Kia Telluride Concept shown here
The Telluride concept was fashioned as more of a luxury ride, all the way down to the massive panoramic roof and reclining rear seats with footrests.

Naturally, a lot of the interior is going to change as well. The Telluride concept was fashioned as more of a luxury ride, all the way down to the massive panoramic roof and reclining rear seats with footrests. That’s cool and all, if you’re Rolls-Royce or Bentley, but Kia is trying to claim a piece from a completely different pie. The pie is one that involves hauling around family or half of the kiddo’s soccer team. So, don’t expect to see those super comfy rear seats or that massive center console between them either. In fact, the production model is slated to be an eight-seat SUV, so there will probably be two bench seats out back.

As far as in-cabin technology goes, what we saw in the Telluride concept is well within Kia’s ability to bring to market. And, since it’ll be a flagship SUV for the brand, it wouldn’t be surprising. That Mercedes-like pair of large screens on the dash could easily carry over. In today’s market, they just aren’t as futuristic as we seem to think they are sometimes. The front seats will be replaced by more modern units while the dash itself will be toned down, so don’t expect those weird 3D HVAC vents to show up in production either.

All told, the production version of the SUV should get all of Kia’s latest technology and will be offered with various driver assist features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity should be standard as will a Wi-Fi hotspot. Outside of that, we’ll leave the speculation up to you.

2019 Kia Telluride Performance

The Telluride concept made use of a transverse-mounted 3.5-liter V-6 and an electric motor

This is where things really go wonky. The Telluride concept made use of a transverse-mounted 3.5-liter V-6 and an electric motor. There are no specs on the battery or any type of energy recuperation system, but Kia did say that the engine produced some 270 horsepower while the electric motor was good for another 130 ponies, leading to a total system output of 400 horsepower. Torque figures were never mentioned, but it was all-wheel drive, so the transverse mounting of the engine means that the engine drove the front wheels and the motor was responsible for turning the rear wheels.

This is good and all, but it was just recently that we learned the Telluride could make use of the K900’s rear-wheel-drive platform. That would open the door to Kia’s 3.3-liter V-6. In the K900, that engine delivers 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet. That’s not too far off from the Telluride Concept’s hybridized output. And, that being the case, a small battery and an electric motor up front could make for an easy, on-demand AWD system. Then again, the K900 also as AWD, so the whole driveline could be carried over to make things even easier if Kia didn’t want to take the hybrid route for its big SUV.

2019 Kia Telluride Pricing

Considering this is an all-new model, we really have no basis of comparison for pricing. That said, there’s also no shortage of full-sized SUVs on the market either. With models like the Chevy Tahoe starting at $47,500 and the Nissan Armada commanding around $46,000, you can expect Kia to stick around the same pricing bracket. Then again, Kia has been known to undercut the competition. With the largest model in its lineup, the Sorento, commanding just $25,900, the Telluride full-size could easily go for $37,00 and stick it to all of the competition.

2019 Kia Telluride Competition

Nissan Armada

2017 Nissan Armada Unveiled High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Nissan Armada went through a generational shift for the 2017 model year, showing up at the Chicago Auto show with a boxy design and seating for eight. The exterior is unique, but the interior is actually subpar compared to other offerings with a GM-like center stack, very small screen inside the analog instrument cluster and some clunky materials. Of course, there is a 13-speaker Bose audio system, so it has that going for it. It gets its juice from a 5.6-liter V-8 that’s good for 390 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Again, that’s a lot of extra weight to churn out similar horsepower to that 3.3-liter that could make its way to the Telluride. Pricing for the Armada starts at $46,090 for the entry-level SV and climbs to as much as $65,090 for the range-topping Armada Platinum Reserve with four-wheel drive.

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Armada.

Chevy Tahoe

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Exterior High Resolution
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The Chevy Tahoe entered its third generation for the 2016 model year, and it offers up some strong competition to the Telluride. The exterior is sporty and rounded just enough to keep it interesting while the interior has a lot of modern features and a modern look. One of the coolest features is the hidden compartment behind the infotainment screen (the screen slides upward.) There is, of course, seating for eight and under the hood, you’ll find Chevy’s 5.3-liter V-8 that’s good for 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Four-wheel drive is on the table with power being sent through a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing for the Tahoe starts at $47,500 for the entry-level model and climbs to as much as $63,495 for the range-topping Premier trim.

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe.

Final Thoughts

2019 Kia Telluride Spyshots Exterior
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The thing about Kia is that it’s able to provide rather upscale cars for prices that are always a bit lower than the competition. This has been proven time and time again, even as the brand continues to move itself up the ladder of quality. The Telluride, if it shows the typical Kia flair inside and out, could put quite a damper on its competitors if the price is right. The question is whether or not Kia will be able to really dish out the quality, power, and fit and finish. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see, but things certainly are looking good for the brand lately. After all, the Kia Stinger is killing it in quality, performance, and price.

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    • * drivetrain is up in the air
    • * May not get hybrid tech

References

2016 Kia Telluride Concept Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Kia Telluride Concept.

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Read more Kia news.

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