Sunday Drive: Kia Telluride gets some extra off-road mojo
Ever since its debut, the Kia Telluride has resonated with the motoring public throughout the U.S. Whether it is the name that is cool, the fact that it is a perfectly sized family hauler that has room for everything Mom needs, or that it comes loaded with technology, it has made a significant impact on the automotive world.
We had our first chance to spend time in the Telluride back in the winter of 2020 (before the world shut down) on a trip to sunny Southern California, and we were excited for this chance to experience the upgraded SUV during a wet springtime in the Rocky Mountains.
New this year to the Telluride are the X-Line and X-Pro, which will cater to those wanting a little more off-road mojo from this very competent all-wheel drive vehicle. These trim levels are going to come with some unique exterior and interior features that set them apart, including, most importantly, a higher ground clearance (10 millimeters more), improved approach and departure angles, a tow mode adjusted for better trailering and upgraded traction control.
Unfortunately, with all the wet weather and snow that has accompanied spring this year in Utah, we did not have the chance to get off-road with the Telluride. Deep snow in the mountains kept us on the city streets in the valley. However, we each had chances to get out and test the SUV during everyday driving.
Deanne had the most everyday experiences in the Telluride, including an afternoon shopping trip to Costco for Aspen Senior Care where she works. A small hiccup occurred when she opened the back and wanted to lower the third row of seats. Seeing a button indicating it would lower the seat automatically, she pushed it.
This lowered the second row of seats automatically, requiring her to go through the side door and pull the third row down. It seemed to her that most folks, when entering from the rear like she did, would want the third-row seating to go down instead of the second-row as loading the rear compartment was her most important task at that moment!
Craig had the opportunity to take the SUV up to Ogden for a daylong event at the Standard-Examiner. He put three coworkers in the extra seats and headed north. They were all very comfortable and greatly enjoyed the nappa leather-clad seats. All four seats in the front and second rows were heated and cooled — not that much cooling was needed on that mild April day.
The power plant for the Telluride is a strong 3.8-liter V-6 engine the provides a very nice 291 horsepower and 262 foot-pounds of torque. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it moved the large SUV with ease, both in town and out on the highway.
It comes with four different drive modes: Smart, Eco, Sport and Comfort. Each of these changed how the powertrain and steering behaved and proved to work very well. The engineers have also added two other modes for specific driving conditions called Snow and AWD Locked. These allowed power to be divided 50-50 between the front and rear wheels, helping the vehicle get through some of the roughest terrain.
We did get a chance to use the Snow mode. Even though we were into April, we received a couple of inches of the white stuff one night, and we were glad to have the ability to lock in the wheels when we headed out. The Telluride handled it with ease, leading us to believe it would take on any amount of weather Mother Nature sent its way.
One thing we have always loved about Kia is that it is constantly improving the interior of its vehicles with technology and other creature comforts that are more likely to come with higher-priced competitive models.
As proof, the Kia’s standard navigation screen has increased in size from 10.3 inches to 12.3 inches. We have always loved larger options in this department as it makes getting around in unknown territory so much easier.
Our test ride also came with a 12.3-inch driver display that was fully configurable along with a heads-up display and the optional LED display rearview mirror. Getting into the Kia was more like prepping for a starship adventure when all the technology booted up.
On top of that, the SUV can be configured to work with smartphones and watches to unlock and start the Telluride and allow it to drive. This is pretty cool stuff at this price point. This ability can also be shared with family and friends via text to allow them access to the vehicle.
In other words, if Deanne forgets the key (that never happens), Craig can simply text one to her and continue on with his day.
Amazon Alexa is also incorporated into the SUV, allowing home access for turning on lights, heat and other functions. It also allows Alexa to start the vehicle, unlock the doors, etc., when you are getting ready for a drive.
There are even some upgrades this year to the huge number of ever-increasing safety features that come with the Telluride. A new Intelligent Speed Limit Assist will detect the road’s maximum limit and, in certain cases, provide alerts to the driver about the speed or even limit the speed if it is set up that way.
Another new feature is the Navigation Based Smart Cruise Control, which will lower the speed of the SUV for upcoming curves. The SUV will also assist the driver when changing lanes on the freeway through using all of its safety systems. This is quite a cool addition and, again, is a lot of technology for the money.
The new 2023 Telluride continues to lead the way in its segment and will continue to be a bestseller as it offers so much luxury and comfort for its price!
Base price: $52,785
Destination charge: $1,335
Price as driven: $55,120