USED: 2020 Kia Telluride SX 3-Row SUV: Bespoke Details at an Off-the-Rack Price

Kia Telluride 3 Row Suv
Kia Telluride at the Historic Opal Lawrence Historic Park ?Teia Collier

This is the Michael Kors of SUVS: Style, efficiency and luxury at a price that won’t make you keel over.

Just as at home at the Neiman Marcus valet as it is on the playground, the 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD is the smart, glamorous, full-size SUV of your dreams. Generously proportioned and thoughtfully designed with aesthetic touches that elevate the driver and passenger experience {and made this mama smile}, this SUV is priced fully loaded at a surprisingly $47,000.

This SUV is stunning in person – pictures do not quite do it justice. It made people stop, stare, ask questions and give unsolicited compliments. It also made people, including random strangers, ask to see inside. Once inside, I heard the surprise over the quality of the leather, appreciation at the size, the number of air vents – even in the third row, the unique layout of the moon roof and the adjustable drive modes. Also, the wheels – sexy, eye-catching wheels. I loved them on first glance and I wasn’t alone.

Get all the facts on the Kia Telluride: Pricing, key details and more


A Girls Guide To Cars | Used: 2020 Kia Telluride Sx 3-Row Suv: Bespoke Details At An Off-The-Rack Price - 2019Kiatelluridemesquitetx

2019 Kia Telluride on the Historic Square of Mesquite Credit: Teia Collier

Elegant Lines, Thoughtful Details and All the Things You Love About SUVs

We love the size and scale of SUVs. They can ferry the basketball team or the extended family. But then we see the sophisticated details in a fancy sports sedan, and that workhorse we love so much can feel shabby.

Kia addressed this in the Telluride with things like like perforated leather, neat trims and color combinations that speak the language of luxury. It reminded us of how Michael Kors consistently gives a nod to classic styling, capturing the shape and feel of Louis Vuitton or Prada in a beautiful handbag, but then gives it an accessible price. This is Kia’s approach in the Telluride: A prestige vehicle with an affordable price point – definitely one trend we hope continues.

Related: How does the Kia Telluride compare to the Hyundai Palisade? Take a look! 

Runway Details Set The Telluride Apart

The 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD arrived for review early on the morning of my Grandfather’s burial, a couple of days after the second wave of vicious storms to descended on North Texas. It stood out as a beautiful contrast to the downed trees waiting for clean up crews to come retrieve them. I did the initial walk-around and remembered what I had seen in passing at the DFW Auto Show. This SUV looks and feels special; it’s classic boxy shape is reminiscent of the recent Land Rover or larger Mercedes-Benz SUVs.

The model we test drove model was a gorgeous dark moss green, reminiscent of the smoky army green that appeared on the Bottega Veneta runway and in my favorite travel-ready Cuyana tote bags. The interior leather was a buttery blend of smooth and perforated grey Nappa Leather contrasted with charcoal carpeting and accents of ash grey teakwood on the dash and glove box. The clean lines paired with the sleek 10’’ infotainment panel, smart cargo compartments that made a place for everything, a roomy interior, striking placement of the lighting and rather stunning wheels that come standard. Every detail draws the eye to an unexpected delight.

Related: The Kia Soul delivers an SUV-like space in a small all electric vehicle

More Than Enough Space for Every Adventure

Before heading the the funeral I got the Telluride ready for my week with it. I grabbed our gear, stored my handbag in the deep center console and then loaded 3 adults and four children, including two in car seats, into the Telluride. There was more than enough space, even for my sister’s husband who is well over 6’4, to sit comfortably in the middle row captain’s chairs. No one was kicking me in the back, and there were no knees in the back of anyone’s seat – even in the center row. I loved that the captain’s chairs are adjustable with their own heating and cooling ventilation systems that are independently controllable. I adored the fact that everyone had their own space and their own USB ports {6 for the entire vehicle} within easy reach. As our drive to the Dallas National Cemetery drew on, I was thankful for the heads up display and the push-button child window and door lock system, nestled smartly in the driver’s window controls.

This Beauty Steals the Show– Even When It’s Bad Manners To

We arrived at Veteran’s Memorial, a lush cemetery National Cemetery honoring servicemen and women in Dallas. I parked on a tree lined road under a large Mulberry tree that ended up being a spot where people gathered to talk, share good memories and relax in each other’s company. After the service was over, I caught the sound of people laughing at a memory and saw my cousins and the waiting servicemen taking a peek at the Telluride, complimenting the wheels, the shape and the striking appeal of the Telluride. I offered to let them take a look inside, and I heard from one gentleman that “it lives up to the hype.”

It was the same story later in the week when I had to make a quick run to Northpark to pick up my perfume; the valet guys said pretty much the same thing: “That’s a beauty.”And when I went to the Mesquite Rodeo and the handsome cowboys wanted to know what it was and how it was on gas. {Very nice by the way – it hovered right around 21-24mpg highway}

Mesquite Rodeo For The Good Morning America Summer Visit

Mesquite Rodeo for the Good Morning America Summer Visit Photo: Teia Collier

A Classic Look and and Luxe Design Details Make for Happy Driving

The SX model we test drove had some added features resulting in a well-appointed package with details like piped edging around the seating and steering wheel, brushed chrome details on the infotainment console and customizable air conditioning for all quadrants of the vehicle. It is as if Kia took all the things that people love about SUVs, added smart tech and design details that add to the comfort, safety and premium feel of a luxury SUV and put them into one surprisingly affordable vehicle. It is no wonder why dealers are reporting that they can’t get these in fast enough. The SX package starts at $41,000 and fully loaded at $47,860 while the base model starts at $31K.

But … It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts

But the real goods for this vehicle are inside – the Telluride delivered a smooth, safe ride and felt less like a truck than I expected. It actually handled more like a large, modern sedan. The active safety system is easy to turn on and off with the turn of a dial, though I found that it does come in very handy on the construction-laden highways of North Texas.  With multiple drive options, Smart Mode is my favorite. It is a driver friendly, intelligent support system that includes cruise control, highway drive assist, blind-spot monitors with 360-degree surround camera views and that notifies the driver by vibrating the steering wheel and displays in the heads up display and/or in the dash. I loved it so much that I missed it when my test drive was over and I went back to my own car – but now want to have on my next vehicle. The rain sensing wipers were a nice bonus that add to the safety and driver experience, while the rear occupant alert system is so smart and needed for the summer heat. Kia thought about what matters to the people driving and riding in their vehicles.

The Telluride’s tech panel and navigation system is probably one of my favorites. It’s a big 10.25’’ flat screen paired with a heads up display in the SX. It paired easily to Android Auto and the Bluetooth connection delivered a crisp, clear signal to the Harman/Kardon sound system, making my beloved audiobooks sound even better. The display is large with a customizable, adjustable font and a streamlined design that lets you see what you need without being distracted by anything else.  One really cool feature was the Driver Talk system, nicknamed Driver PA system by my children, it’s a speaker system that lets you talk directly to the people in the backseat – interrupting any media playing on the sound system.  So cool – I could literally say “Hello Short People in the Backseat” and sound like the Voice of the Heavens.

 Related: Tips on how to stop hot car deaths

Grocery Trips With Nana Are Much More Fun In The Kia Telluride

Grocery Trips with Nana are much more fun in the Kia Telluride. Photo:Teia Collier

Find Your Seat, Plug in and Go

The 2020 Telluride SX is a 3.8L V6 with 291 horsepower, and it has plenty of get up and go when you want it. The mileage was great on the highway – hovering between 18 mpg in stop-and-go traffic and 24 mpg on the highway, and the Telluride takes regular unleaded gas, which was a pleasant surprise. From the smart placement of the charging outlets– two in the center console for the driver and front seat passenger, two in the middle for the captain’s chair row {smartly placed in the interior side of the driver and passenger seat} and an additional two in the rear for the bench seat passengers to the ease of getting into and out of the rear seats– I realized that my initial impression was correct: Kia really has upgraded their game with this offer.

Just one example is the placement of the third row seating.  My youngest son loves to sit in the rear back seat with his car seat, and often, it is simply not easy to get him in and out between hidden latch anchors and complicated 2nd and 3rd row seat placement. Happily, the Telluride is thoughtfully designed so the rear seat is easy to get in and out of, making him a very happy 5-year-old. With the touch of a button, the captain’s chairs fold and make it simple to access the rear seat. I could anchor the seat with one hand and let him climb in. 

Also, the rear seat also folds flat with the pull of a cord, making it versatile enough for everyday life and easy to use for all the rest of the days when you are hauling more than normal or made a really extravagant Target run. While with the third seat up and in use, it still holds a regular sized stroller and a couple of bags.

Who is going to love this one?

Kia Telluride At The Historic Opal Lawrence Historic Park In Mesquite, Texas

Kia Telluride at the Historic Opal Lawrence Historical Park in Mesquite, Texas Photo: Teia Collier

Easily seating 7 or 8, fans of the Ford Expedition, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Palisade, Honda Pilot or those considering a minivan but not wanting to head that route, are going to want to take a look at the Telluride. Large families, people who enjoy a vehicle that feels prestige and enjoy the comfort of that experience, people with lots of gear and people to haul may find it to be SUV Heaven.

All in All…

People who love to drive and those who have to drive are going to enjoy the Telluride. It’s quite simply a beautiful SUV. The attention to detail, the generous size, luxurious touch points and smart technology will make this fan-favorite for families who like to be spoiled and drivers who feel the need for prestige. We know who we are.

Disclosure: The Kia Telluride was provided for my review; all opinions and fashion comparisons are my own.

The Details Feel Luxuriously Bespoke In This 3-Row Suv, But The Price Is Stunning. The 2020 Kia Telluride Sx Awd Is The Michael Kors Of Suvs.

The details feel luxuriously bespoke in this 3-row SUV, but the price is stunning. The 2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD is the Michael Kors of SUVs.


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Teia Collier is a mother of three, educator, social journalist, advocate for women’s and children’s issues and lover of... More about Teia Collier