The reveal brings the Telluride full circle from its origins as a concept first shown in Detroit three years ago. Kia will emphasize its rugged looks and comfortable, well-appointed interior when it goes on sale later this year as a 2020 model and takes on well-entrenched competitors like the venerable Ford Explorer (itself redesigned for 2020) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Designed at Kia's studio in Southern California, the Telluride deliberately harkens to the boxy appearance of O.G. SUVs like the aforementioned Explorer, with a long hood and wide grille, a clean side profile and upright windshield. Nameplates adorn both the leading edge of the hood, atop the grille, and on the liftgate, with stacked headlights, inverted L-shaped taillamps and a sculpted rear skid plate with integrated twin exhaust tips.
The Telluride is powered by a 3.8-liter direct-injection V6 making 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic. There's four-wheel independent suspension and stiff, torsionally rigid body structure owing to an advanced high-strength steel monocoque shell. The rear suspension is self-leveling, with the ride height automatically calibrated depending on the load to benefit control and stability.
Four driving modes are offered — Smart, Eco, Sport and Comfort — plus Snow and AWD Lock settings when needed. On-demand all-wheel drive will be an option, distributing torque between the front and rear wheels depending on road conditions and the driver's input. Kia says it's based on electro-hydraulic AWD coupling and constantly redistributes power between the front and rear wheels depending on drive mode — for example, splitting it 65 percent to 35 percent between the front and rear wheels in Sport mode.
Inside, there's a wide console that emphasizes the horizontal, with an available 10.25-inch color touchscreen. There's simulated brushed metal and matte-finished wood, interior hooks to hang packs and bags, ceiling-mounted climate control in the second row and reclining third-row seats. It comes standard with five USB charging ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the Kia Drive Wise driver-assist system, including available features that are firsts for a Kia SUV, including blind spot collision avoidance assist rear and a heads-up display.
The Telluride will be available later this year. We don't yet know pricing, but it will be offered in four trims — LX, EX, S and SX — and in a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. It will be built at Kia's assembly plant in West Point, Ga., alongside certain versions of the Sorento, another midsize SUV and the Optima.