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The Kia Telluride: A Short History About America’s Best SUV

Learn the history of one of America’s highest-rated and best selling SUVs. Including how it got the name Telluride.


  • MSRP $35,890 -$52,985
  • Type: Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
  • Current Model Year: 2023 (2024 model to be released in late 2023)


The Kia Telluride is a midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by the South Korean automaker Kia Motors. The Telluride is the largest SUV in Kia’s lineup and was first introduced as a concept vehicle at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. The production version of the Telluride made its debut at the 2019 North American International Auto Show.

Where did the name “Telluride” come from?

The name “Telluride” comes from a small town in Colorado, known for its ski resorts and beautiful scenery, which reflects the vehicle’s emphasis on outdoor adventures and family-oriented activities. The Telluride is designed to accommodate up to eight passengers and offers a spacious and comfortable interior with advanced safety features and modern technology.

Telluride Specs

Built on the same platform as its sister vehicle, the Hyundai Palisade, the Kia Telluride is offered with a 3.8-liter V6 engine producing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the vehicle is available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Inside, the Kia Telluride is equipped with high-quality materials and a variety of standard and optional features that cater to the needs of modern families. Some of these features include heated and ventilated seats, a large touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, advanced driver-assist technologies like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, and a range of USB charging ports for passengers.

The Telluride is available in multiple trim levels, allowing customers to choose a model that suits their needs and budget. The base LX trim offers a generous list of standard features, while higher trims like the S, EX, and SX provide additional luxury and convenience options. The competitive pricing of the Telluride, which undercuts many rivals in the midsize SUV segment, has made it an attractive choice for consumers seeking value for money.

Awards & Accolades

Since its launch, the Kia Telluride has received positive reviews from automotive critics and has been praised for its comfortable ride, upscale interior, and value for money. It has won several awards, including the 2020 World Car of the Year, 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and 2020 MotorTrend SUV of the Year. The Telluride has proven to be a popular choice among consumers, contributing to Kia’s growing presence in the SUV market.

The success of the Kia Telluride can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its bold and distinctive design, strong performance, and competitive pricing. The exterior design of the Telluride features a boxy, rugged appearance with an imposing front grille, LED headlights, and sleek, modern lines. These design elements contribute to the Telluride’s robust and adventurous image, which has resonated with consumers.


Kia has also focused on ensuring that the Telluride offers a safe and secure driving experience. It comes standard with a range of safety features, such as forward collision-avoidance assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit assist. These safety systems have helped the Telluride earn top safety ratings from organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Interesting Facts

The Kia Telluride has several interesting aspects that have contributed to its success and popularity in the midsize SUV segment. Some of these include:

  1. American Design and Production: Although Kia is a South Korean brand, the Telluride was designed at the Kia Design Center in Irvine, California, and is manufactured at the company’s assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. This makes the Telluride a truly American SUV, designed and built to cater to the preferences and needs of the U.S. market.
  2. Concept to Reality: The Kia Telluride was first introduced as a concept vehicle in 2016, featuring a bold and futuristic design. The production version of the Telluride, which debuted in 2019, managed to retain much of the concept’s striking design elements, making it stand out in the crowded midsize SUV market.
  3. Off-road Capability: The Telluride is not just a stylish family hauler; it also offers some off-road capability. With its available all-wheel-drive system, 8 inches of ground clearance, and various drive modes, including a dedicated “Snow” mode and an off-road “Lock” mode, the Telluride can tackle a variety of terrains.
  4. Spacious and Versatile Interior: The Telluride can seat up to eight passengers comfortably, with ample legroom and headroom in all three rows. The SUV also features versatile seating configurations and up to 87 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded down, making it suitable for families who need to carry both passengers and luggage.
  5. Numerous Awards: The Kia Telluride has won multiple prestigious awards since its introduction, including the 2020 World Car of the Year, 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and 2020 MotorTrend SUV of the Year. These accolades serve as a testament to the vehicle’s quality, performance, and overall appeal.
  6. Advanced Technology: The Telluride comes with a host of modern technology features, such as a large touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system, which enhance the driving experience and provide added convenience.
  7. Driver-Assist Features: The Telluride is equipped with a range of standard and available driver-assist features, such as forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. These systems help improve safety and make driving more comfortable and stress-free.

These interesting aspects of the Kia Telluride, combined with its competitive pricing, have made it a popular and highly-regarded choice in the midsize SUV market.


In summary, the Kia Telluride has quickly established itself as a popular and highly-regarded choice in the midsize SUV market, thanks to its distinctive design, comfortable and feature-rich interior, strong performance, and competitive pricing. The vehicle’s success has helped to further solidify Kia’s reputation as a manufacturer of quality, stylish, and value-driven vehicles.

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