Kia Soul, Porsche Taycan and Mazda 3 walked away with major prizes, too.
Honestly, I thought the Telluride was a long shot. It’s big, like, American big. It’s boxy, like, classic SUV boxy. And it’s from Kia, which hasn’t, until now, been a frequent face on the auto awards red carpet.
It could be that the whole world is just coming around to our way of thinking. Or, it could be that the Kia Telluride is just a great SUV. Or, it could be both.
Why Kia Telluride Won World Car of the Year
OK, I can only speak for myself, but I really love this SUV (and I’m not alone!). I love the scope and scale of it; it’s roomy and comfortable with the look and feel of something that can handle all the adventure your family can dish out. But it’s still luxurious. It has the classic look of capable SUV; you can just see Meryl Streep and Robert Redford bouncing across the African savannah in the Telluride. And it delivers way more than you could hope for at a mere $44,000.
Clearly, my fellow World Car Award jurors, who are mostly from Europe and Asia where sleek cars are typical and large boxy SUVs are less so, agreed.
It may have something to do with the fact that more and more, European and Asian consumers — and therefore auto makers— are deciding that SUVs are a great way to get around. Over the last few years we have seen more SUVs being built and sold in countries that traditionally have favored small sedans and hatchbacks.
The one thing that, for me at least, puts the Telluride over the top? The signature Kia “Tiger” grille completes the classic SUV look. It’s the perfect fit and scale for this SUV, making it look far more expensive (a la Range Rover) than it is.
Whatever the reason, the jurors agreed: The Telluride resonates everywhere.
Porsche Taycan Is Recognized for World Performance Car and World Luxury Car
This one didn’t surprise me either. After seeing the Taycan in person and having a chance to drive it, I agree. It might surprise some that the Taycan, which is a pure electric car, won for performance, a category we typically associate with gas-driven muscle cars. But, the Taycan’s drive experience is pure Porsche. Dr. Michael Steiner, who is an executive board member and lead’s Porsche’s research and development, noted that the development team worked hard to keep the Taycan’s center of gravity low so it drives like a Porsche, and that this was a challenge given the need to place batteries along the Taycan’s undercarriage.
Inside, Porsche took an electric eye to the controls, gauges and clusters. Dr. Steiner noted that only the key components you need to drive a car are still tactile buttons or dials; the rest of the dash is streamlined to match the seamless performance of the car. The seating and interior design details match that thinking while still delivering a truly “Porsche” experience—drivers and passengers are not simply in a car of the future but one that pampers you, too.
Mazda 3 Wins World Car Design of the Year
When I opened the door to the Mazda 3 sedan last year to begin my review week with it, I was stunned. I took a seat behind the wheel but couldn’t look away from the leather dash and door trim, the chrome, the elegant display of technology, the astute attention to detail at every turn. The 3 was redesigned for 2020 and continues to be offered in both a hatchback and a sedan… so buyers can have young and fun or sophisticated and elegant. And it’s still filled with luxury and delivers a fun drive experience, all packaged in a toned and sculpted exterior that makes you smile every time you look at it.
Kia Completes a Stellar Showing By Winning the World Urban Car Award For the Soul EV
This one made my heart happy. Kia’s belief is that great cars can be both gas and electric and that electric cars don’t need to look like a science project. And this is showcased in the Soul EV. I had the chance to drive it last year and was delighted. It has everything you love about Soul—the quirky box design, the sort-of SUV-ish feel (you sit upright, the rear seats fold flat and there’s lots of headroom for everyone) but a quiet, responsive, fun drive experience that EV drivers love. It promises 250 miles on a charge and is ideal for any urban space, from daily driving to delivery cars that need to make a gazillion stops in a day. As our cities become increasingly focused on sustainable ways to fuel our cars and reduce congestion and pollution, the Kia Soul EV will set the standard.
For more on the 2020 World Car Awards and the finalists–and this was a tough competition with some great cars finishing among the Top 3–check out the World Car Awards site.