Kia is rapidly becoming a brand known for vehicles that are uniquely stylish, fairly well-appointed with tech and safety features, and priced economically. Buyers who know Kia only in the US market may not realize the Kia Motor Company has been around since 1944, with sales in the US under the Kia brand only beginning in 1992. Fast forward to 2020, and the new 2021 Kia Telluride is already being introduced after its debut earlier this year. With so many SUVs on the market, you may be tempted to go seeking vehicles from manufacturers with more familiar logos, but you would deny yourself the opportunity to discover one of the most heralded SUVs in its class.
For buyers searching for a three-row SUV loaded with features, flush with roominess in every seat, and a luxurious ride for a reasonable price, the 2021 Telluride will fulfill your every wish. This SUV can seat up to eight passengers, can tow up to 5,000 pounds, comes standard with Kia’s UVO link for remote connectivity, and also comes standard with several driver-assisted safety features. With a starting MSRP of only $31,990, the 2021 Telluride has baked so much into the final product you might wonder where it’s been all your life.
What might be even better than the vehicle itself is the powertrain warranty, which is covered for ten years or 100,000 miles, and is the best of all powertrain warranties available. It does not offer the complimentary maintenance of some manufacturers, but it does have a limited warranty, which covers up to 60,000 miles or five years. The Telluride has been gifted with numerous awards, from being the 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick to one of Car and Driver’s Ten Best in 2020. If you are dead-set on buying an SUV this year and you need the space for plenty of passengers, the 2021 Telluride deserves to be on your list of vehicles to experience.
In today’s world, cell phones are as much a part of life as bathing or brushing your teeth. Kia has taken this fact of life and intelligently incorporated a key feature into the design of the 2021 Telluride: smart charging. Every row of seats has its own charging ports, very cleverly located in the seatbacks where the cell phone can also be placed in a pocket designed for its size and shape. This ingenious move is so convenient we can all take a moment to wonder why no one else has thought of it, but it will certainly be a move other manufacturers will want to make in the future. Being able to plug in a cell phone where it can still be accessed for use, especially with a pocket to keep it from being damaged by other items, is incredibly smart. Even a wireless charger can’t beat being able to plug in and still use your phone while you take a long trip.
Interior Space and Comfort
Whether you choose the bench seats in both back rows to seat eight or the captain’s chairs in the second row to seat seven, the comfort of the entire cabin is made for long drives. So many features are packed into this vehicle, it’s hard to narrow them down to a few of the best. One of the nicer conveniences is the available heated and cooled first- and second-row seats. The available Nappa leather seats are also deliciously comfortable and classy, though the synthetic leather is also very appealing. Having a smart key with push-button start is a nice convenience that comes standard with all trims, as does the smart cruise control, which automates the speed when other vehicles slow down in front of you.
Little things like the ease of second-row seats that glide forward with a single button make it simple to gain entry to the third row, and the cargo holds for storage under the floor are a great place to put valuables out of sight or just keep the interior neat and tidy. Cup holders are as plentiful as the phone chargers, and the front seats are powered as standard equipment for all trims. The one factor which may not be fantastic is the available cargo space in the trunk area, which is relatively small for such a large vehicle. Only 21 cubic feet is what you have to stuff your luggage into, which is only a little larger than a trunk on a sedan. Then again, you can always tow a trailer or put your cargo in a carrier on the roof rails if you need the extra space.
Standard tech for all trims of the 2021 Telluride is fairly generous, beginning with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To have the UVO link available for all trims is also more than you get with most other Kia vehicles, which typically offers this feature only in upper trims. Bluetooth is also standard, and the infotainment display screen is eight inches. The audio system is six speakers, and it can be controlled via the controls on the steering wheel, using the hands-free connectivity, or by using the display in the center stack. Whatever type of power outlet you need is within reach, from the USB jack in the front to the five charging ports, and the three 12-volt outlets in each row.
Upgrading can offer incredible conveniences like the enhanced UVO feature with navigation and advanced connectivity to help you find where you parked your vehicle, make vehicle payments, and control climate remotely from your phone. Also available in upper trims are features like Driver Talk, which allows the driver’s voice to be amplified through speakers to be better heard in the back rows. Quiet Mode, keeps the sound system focused up front when others may be sleeping or listening to their own devices. A premium 10-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system is also an option.
Kia takes safety seriously, both in the design of the vehicle and the driver-assisted software. While automakers all incorporate airbags and LATCH systems for tethering child seats, Kia goes much further to protect occupants of the vehicle. Vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, and a rollover sensor are all standard equipment for every trim of the 2021 Telluride, each of which is electronically tuned to sense impact or prevent it and help keep the vehicle occupants safe. Rear occupant alert, parking distance warning, and safe exit assist are all designed to prevent accidents before they happen. Things like reminding the driver of sleeping kids in the back seat, preventing backing into unseen vehicles, or preventing occupants from opening doors into oncoming traffic.
Kia’s Drive Wise suite of safety features is a long list of driver-assisted tech: lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, lane following assist, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot detection, driver attention warning, and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance are all standard on all trims. Upper trims will add features like the heads-up display to keep eyes on the road, highway driving assist to adjust cruise control to match speed limits, surround view monitor for 360-degree camera views around the vehicle, and a blind-spot view monitor to display camera views of the vehicle blind-spot when the turn signal is being used.
Why the 2021 Telluride Is a Great Deal
Aside from the pricing and features, the 2021 Telluride is safe, can handle adverse road conditions with all-wheel drive, and the driving modes adapt to whatever the weather throws at you. Conveniences abound in the upper trims, with powered features on the exterior and interior alike, and the vehicle is still in a reasonable price range for the comfort and convenience you gain. Compared with other vehicles in its class, the Telluride holds down the expense with matching features to the upper trims of other manufacturers, keeping the price lower.
One downside noted by some reviews is the lack of engine choices, as the 2021 Telluride only has one engine option with the 3.8-liter V6, but that engine can tow up to 5,000 pounds. That’s enough for a small camper, some of which are configured to sleep up to eight people. As for the lack of storage in the trunk area, the space under the floor is available to stash plenty of extra stuff, and that camper on the hitch can hold some of your luggage, too. Overall, the 2021 Kia Telluride is a winning vehicle with a lot of features in the bag. Instead of a minivan, go for the SUV that can tackle the back roads and help you navigate almost anywhere.