Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
When the crew at Kia unleashed the boxy Telluride SUV in North American markets a couple of years ago, the model quickly gained a lot of friends. Journalists levied many column inches of praise on it, while consumers voted with their wallets and quickly made the Telluride a common sight in both middle-class and affluent driveways. Perhaps it’s the lantern-jaw styling, maybe it’s the well-executed interior; whatever the reason, Kia has a hit on its hands.
Regardless of trim, the Telluride is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 engine making 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Connected to an eight-speed automatic, the powertrain has plenty of guts and never feels strung-out like some of its turbocharged competitors with small displacement four-cylinder engines. All-wheel drive is part of the deal.
The only paint choice which does not cost extra is the Ebony Black shade shown here, with all others dinging your wallet for at least $250. We will say that darker shades match the Telluride’s lines quite nicely and permit the shiny T E L L U R I D E billboard on the leading edge of its hood to pop with some authority. Ground clearance and interior dimensions are equal across the board, as well.
Speaking of the latter, many customers – and journos – cite the Telluride’s interior as a major reason for its success. The base EX, priced at $46,495, can seat eight passengers across its three rows, with the Way Back flipping and folding out of sight to open up cargo space. Those seats are synthetic leather (read: fake) at this price, so make sure to sample the SX trim – which is $5,000 dearer – to make sure you can live with the fake stuff. In our experience, the entry-level seats pass muster.
Tri-zone climate control is standard even on the least-expensive Telluride, helping preserve the peace between warring factions. Of no less importance is the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system which includes navigation, USB ports for all hands in every row, and a wireless charger for those up front. That rear liftgate is power operated, LED lamps pepper the interior, and the front seats are heated (as is the steering wheel).
What We’d Choose
So, what does one get for their cash should they choose to make the $5,000 walk to the next-level SX? Ventilated front seats are a big draw; in fact, seating itself is more premium thanks to real leather (if that matters to you) plus memory settings and passenger-side power assists. Retractable sunshades on the rear side doors help the little ones, and a Harman Kardon audio system belts out tunes with vigour. Snazzier digital gauges, ambient lighting, and 360-degree cameras round out the extras.
Is that level of kit worth $5,000 (or approximately $100 per month)? Only individual shoppers can answer that question. However, no matter which Telluride is selected, families will find themselves in command of a good-looking SUV that’s finding sales success across Canada. Just be sure to select a different colour than the neighbours – even if it does cost $250 extra.