It’s likely Kia was inspired by the picturesque mining town near the ski slopes in Colorado. Its name is etched just above the grille of the posh SUV crossover. Whatever the thought behind the name, the 2021 Kia Telluride is just practical luxury for buyers who are tired of the same-ol’ same ol’.
Our tester gleamed in its Gravity Gray paint and suggested it means business on highways and on rougher roads. Not bad for a SUV only in its second year of production. Kia has managed to finesse the headlights neatly to the side of the wide grille.
The roundness of this sprawled out SUV actually reminds aesthetically of a Bentley Bentayga, believe it or not. Perhaps it’s the fluidity of the body contours. The 2021 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD doesn’t cost six-figures, however. Perhaps a comparison to Volvo’s SUV is more accurate, with the prominent tail lights and chunky 20-inch black finished alloy wheels making a statement that this is a SUV for working-class families to lug kids and dogs around – and have some fun while at it.
The interior offers plenty of space for taller passengers and it’s also tall on luxury touches and tech. Kia places controls on the lower part of the dash and the 10.3-inch touchscreen is smack dab in the middle of action. The touches you really have to touch and experience are the nappa leather seats, available on SX trim. It creates a bonafide luxury and a solid vibe for the Telluride.
For a three-row crossover SUV, the Telluride’s fuel economy is nothing to brag about. Our all-wheel-drive tester averaged out to 21 mpg between 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway.
While these ratings aren’t great, they’re not off the mark across the segment save the SUV with a hybrid powertrain, such as the Toyota Highlander and its 36 mpg combined.
Under the hood of the 2021 Telluride SX V6 AWD is a 3.8-liter gas direct injection 6-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed auto transmission. With an independent suspension, the Telluride is a smooth ride.
Like its sibling over at Hyundai, the Palisade, the V-6 produces 291 hp, and the power is distributed across all four wheels. For a vehicle weighing 4,500 pounds, the acceleration is a bit slow, but it does get going to mid-range fast enough. It’ll suffice for a soccer dad or soccer mom – just don’t expect to take off on a Porsche at the red light.
The Telluride gets the job done with its traction and towing capabilities. The all-wheel drive is a must for the snowy roads, with the AWD able to push 50 percent of torque to rear wheels at speeds of up to 40 mph. Able to tow up to 5,000 pounds, the Telluride’s utility for staycations, last-minute trips to the mountains or other adventures is obvious.
The Kia Telluride offers value, but it’s also not cheap. The base MSRP is $44,090, and tops out at $50,180 with all optional trims or upgrades thrown in.
Kia’s finally decided to join the three-row crossover SUV party with the Telluride, fitting the big ride next to the Sorento in its SUV lineup. Similarities between the aforementioned Hyundai Palisade and the Telluride are obvious since the two Korean automakers use the same powertrain, but offer up different styling and branding.
The rides that the 2021 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD is competing against? It’s clearly the Ford Explorer, the Honda Pilot, and the Subaru Ascent. Each offers its own package of style and substance designed to appeal visually and emotionally to buyers that have leaned towards one brand or another previously.
Kia’s steady attempts to shake up the crossover SUV segment are self-evident with the 2021 Telluride, although lurking in its path to glory is the Toyota Highlander, which offers brand credibility along with spacious interior and a hybrid powertrain.
Photo Credit: Kia