When the Kia Telluride mid-size crossover sport utility vehicle debuted for the 2020 model year, it managed to win over just about every corner of automotive media, as well as the car-buying public. There can often be a divide between these two groups, and reviewers seem to like doesn’t always equate to best-sellers in the market. That’s not the case here – Kia builds the Telluride in the United States and continues to barely keep up with demand. The global pandemic didn’t help matters, either, but even without that, Kia is quickly selling every single unit they can build. This week’s Daddy’s Digest car review takes a look at a mid-trim 2022 Kia Telluride SX courtesy of Kia Canada and aims to see just how relevant this family SUV still is.
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While the base Telluride EX trim starts at $46,995 Canadian before taxes and fees, the 2022 Kia Telluride SX is the next step up at $51,995 and slots below the flagship SX Limited ($55,695) and SX Limited Nightsky ($56,695). At this price, standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, eight-passenger seating with leather seating surfaces, a heated steering wheel, heated front and second-row (outboard) seats, air-cooled front seats, a 10.25-inch infotainment display with navigation, Harman/Kardon premium audio, dual sunroofs, rear door manual sunshades, and wireless phone charging. Headlights, daytime running lights, and front fog lights are all of the LED variety, the climate control is of the three-zone automatic variety, and the rear liftgate is power-operated.
All trim levels of the Telluride receive the same engine – a 3.8-litre V6 with direct fuel injection pumps out 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and as a combined unit, this powertrain makes for a large chunk of the appeal of the Telluride. The V6 is smooth and has a nice soundtrack as it goes through the rev range, and the transmission is one of the best amongst mainstream (non-luxury) crossover SUVs. In short, the refinement and confidence of the powertrain is fitting for much more expensive cars that cost ten to twenty thousand more! Unfortunately, no hybrid or plug-in hybrid options currently exist – you’ll have to go for the smaller Sorento SUV for that. With its extra size and practicality, the gas-only Telluride is rated for 12.7 litres per 100 kilometres in the city, and 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway.
Ride and handling for the 2022 Telluride is another strong suit. While we don’t expect sports-car behaviour out of a family hauler that weighs nearly 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds), we do get performance that is in line with more expensive cars, just like how the engine and transmission punch above their weight. Despite the test vehicle being equipped with noisier winter tires, highway cruising is whisper-quiet, and the suspension soaks up bumps before they ever become an issue to drivers and passengers alike. At 5,000 millimetres (196.9 inches) in length and 1,990 millimetres (78.3 inches) in width, the Telluride also drives much smaller than its size suggests. The SX and above get a 360-degree camera monitoring system to aid in low-speed maneuvers, too.
The passenger cabin of the Kia Telluride is a well-designed and high-quality place to spend time. When combined with its good driving dynamics, it makes for a fantastic road trip machine, with comfortable seating in any of the eight positions, although the third row is probably best suited to shorter people, or in-laws. Buyers who need the extra passenger space back there should go with a minivan – the Kia Carnival is a similar vehicle and is also a great choice. With the third row of seating in the upright position, there isn’t an incredible amount of cargo space – once again, the Carnival minivan is the winner there.
LATCH child seat anchors in the second and third rows are very accessible, and the ample second-row legroom means little to no front-row intrusion when rear-facing child seats are in the picture. The manually-operated sunshades in the rear doors are quite useful, the SX’s leather seating surfaces will be easier to keep clean compared to cloth. For families who will be using the first and second rows of seating most of the time, the Telluride is formidable – expect competitors such as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Volkswagen Atlas to perform similarly.
In terms of infotainment systems, the Telluride is a shining example of good ergonomics thanks to plenty of hard buttons and knobs in conjunction with the central touchscreen. Unfortunately, this type of layout seems to be a dying breed at Kia – the Sorento SUV and EV6 electric car are examples of newer products and make do with inferior fully capacitive touch controls. It’s said that going with full-touch isn’t for the sake of looking techy and cool – it’s cheaper to execute and manufacture than buttons and knobs. In the meantime, enjoy the Telluride’s easier-to-use controls, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
With all automakers chasing safety, it’s no surprise that the Telluride gets the latest popular driver-assist features. On all trims including the base EX, there’s blind-spot monitoring, a driver attention alert system, lane departure alert with lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning with automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. On the SX and up, there’s a blind spot camera system for both driver and passenger side that’s activated automatically with the turn signals and visible in the gauge cluster, front parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera system. There’s also the Highway Drive Assist feature, which when compared with other mainstream SUVs, is one of the best and gets as close to Level 2 autonomous (acceleration, braking, and steering control, but still requires full driver attention) as one can get.
In its third full model year on sale, the 2022 Kia Telluride SX still proves itself as one of the best options in the midsize three-row crossover SUV segment. While its pricing comes in very competitively against the likes of the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, or Nissan Pathfinder, it actually punches above its weight and deserves to be in the same conversation as the Lexus RX 350L, Acura MDX, and Infiniti QX60. While the premium options are significantly more expensive, the Telluride asks hard questions about what you get for the money – other than brand panache, the Kia does things almost as well as the high-end stuff. If you care more about how much car you get for the money, and a little less about how you’re perceived going down the road, the Telluride is for you.