Sales have begun on the 2020 Telluride, a completely new SUV model Kia says incorporates a “monocoque shell” made up of 59.4 percent advanced high-strength steel.
Kia product strategy manager Sang Lee during the January North American International Auto Show called extensive high-strength steel a “Kia trademark” of sorts which allowed the OEM to secure many IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ honors.
Lee called the steel usage more about a “safe, strong vehicle” than lightweighting.
Asked if the OEM used aluminum in the structure or aluminum, Lee said no, describing the vehicle as “just a lot of high-strength steel.”
Asked if the Telluride’s exterior panels had increased in strength to save mass, Lee said Kia used steel more at “critical” areas, for structural purposes.
The Telluride offered 10 percent more torsional stiffness than the Kia Sorrento, according to Lee.
The SUV’s first full month on the market was March. It sold more than 10,000 units in that month and April combined. So it sounds like something you’re likely to see in a shop.
“Telluride is Kia’s fastest turning vehicle in America right now and its popularity is driving new customers into Kia showrooms on a daily basis,” Kia Motors sales operations Vice President Bill Peffer said in a statement May 1.
The SUV’s cheapest trim, the front-wheel drive LX, begins at $31,690. The most expensive version, the all-wheel drive SX, features an MSRP of $43,490.
Lee in January prior to the official release of pricing had described the mid-SUV segment as ranging between the low $30,000s and the mid-$40,000s. He said the Telluride would be aligned with this — but “better equipped.”
Every trim features autobraking and rear cross-traffic autobraking, lane keeping and lane centering, blind spot monitoring and avoidance, adaptive cruise control, driver attention warning and a rear parking warning.
“All the core ADAS systems are standard,” Lee said.
He said Kia repeatedly heard focus group participants note that OEMs make safety available — as long as consumers were willing to pay more. The implication is that safety is only for the wealthy.
Kia took that criticism to heart and instead standardized “pretty much everything,” Lee said.
Higher-level trims carry features like automatic high beams, a forward parking distance warning, and highway driving assist.
The last of these brings the Telluride into the ranks of systems like Tesla’s Autopilot. According to Kia, it pairs radar and lidar “to interpret lane markings, allowing the car to stay in its lane and switch into others to overtake or change road. This comprehensive system removes the necessity for drivers to use the steering wheel, indicators or acceleration and brake pedals in many situations.”
Other items possibly of interest to collision repairers:
- Emblems: Elongated nameplates on the leading edge of the hood and on the liftgate provide distinctive identity for flagship SUV.
- Suspension: A self-leveling rear suspension is optional on the top EX and SX trims.
- HVAC: Climate controls are mounted in the ceiling for the second row, and vents can be found in the ceiling too.
- Airbags: There are seven. Besides the front and curtain airbags, the Telluride has “dual front seat-mounted side airbags” and a driver’s knee airbag.
- HUD: A head-up display is sold as an option for the top SX trim. A Kia-sponsored article on Autoweek states that it projects onto the windshield.
- Audio: An optional mic to talk to the second- and third-row is an option; conversely, a “Quiet Mode” keeps the back two rows from hearing the audio played by the driver and passenger in the front.
- More sensors: Ultrasonic sensors — standard on all trims — detect if you left a kid or pet in the second or third row after locking the door.
- Glass: Acoustic windshields are standard, and the front door windows are also acoustic on the EX and SX trim.
Kia, March 19, 2019
A 2020 Kia Telluride appears at the 2019 North American International Auto Show. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)
A 2020 Kia Telluride SX appears at the 2019 North American International Auto Show. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)