CarandDriver | Joey Capparella & Clifford Atiyeh | 01/14/2019
The new eight-seater with a 3.8-liter V-6 slots in above the Sorento.
Kia is going big with its new Telluride three-row SUV, both literally and figuratively. It will be the biggest crossover in Kia’s lineup, positioned above the (also three-row) Sorento. Upon this larger canvas Kia has painted bold styling that deviates little from that of the bold Telluride concept car from a few years ago.
Final specifications are forthcoming, but Kia says the Telluride is several inches longer and wider than the Sorento. It’ll hold up to eight people, while the Sorento can only hold seven between its two front seats, three-across second-row bench, and its admittedly tight two-place third-row seat. That means you can expect the Telluride’s third row (which reclines) to accommodate three humans, although a seven-seat version with captain’s chairs in the second row will be available.
Beyond its extra size, the Telluride also is far more distinctive than the Sorento, with interesting head- and taillight designs and a boxy, trucklike silhouette. The interior brings a Mercedes GLE vibe, with double grab handles on the center console and an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen. The optional quilted nappa leather is real, but the aluminum and matte wood are phony. Regardless, it’s a handsome interior.
The Kia’s styling is so trucklike and bold, in fact, that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s an old-school, body-on-frame SUV along the lines of Chevrolet’s Tahoe or GMC’s Yukon. (It’s also nothing like the body-on-frame Borrego SUV that Kia built for just a year about 10 years ago.) Nonetheless, the Telluride rides on a front-wheel-drive-based unibody platform shared with the Hyundai Palisade. Both will be built at the same Georgia plant where Kia assembles the Sorento.
The Telluride uses a single engine and transmission, a 3.8-liter V-6 shared with the Palisade that sends 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is optional and varies the torque split from 100 percent in front to a 65/35 split in sport mode. A self-leveling rear air suspension is also optional. Plenty of driver assists will be optional, including sensors that detect if children or pets are left behind in the back rows and a lockout feature for the rear doors in case a fast-moving object approaches too close.
The Telluride goes on sale by May 2019.