Telluride. For a skier, the name conjures up visions of a wild west town in Colorado ski country, known for deep powder and epic parties.
I have never skied at the legendary Colorado resort, but I did stay there once. For one night. The town has matured from the party town I grew up reading about, to a modern corporate resort town, with cookie cutter type upscale hotels being the norm. Not a hot tub party in sight.
Three beers. That was all I had. The combination of those three beers and 8,750′ of elevation made for one of the worst hangovers of my life. My head was huge and my lungs were an absolute mess. Turns out that I wasn’t the only one in the group and after a full day spent above 10,000 feet, a few drinks destroyed those of us who live at sea level.
Some might say that the less mature, cronologically, among us fared better. Like a certain ski town, some of us had become somehow softer, perhaps even pedestrian, with our middle-age creep.
It is interesting then that Kia elected to name it’s largest ever vehicle after a Victorian era silver mining town where the ghosts of past riches have been forgotten in favour of the amenities demanded by modern tourists with too much disposable income. I mean, hasn’t Kia become known as typically a value brand?
Well, sort of.
Kia has built a reputation for offering more bang for the buck, particularly in the modern infotainment amenities arena, than any other manufacturer.
Over the past few years however, as the brand has matured, so have their vehicles. Their interiors in particular have evolved to become somehow more American, in a good way, than at least two of the three traditional North American manufacturers.
Let’s face it, if you are looking at buying any of the three row SUVs on the market, then you really don’t give a fig about driving. You are buying an appliance which allows you to sit up high above the normies in cars, while carting your herd of spawn and their flotsam, with the misguided feeling that you are somehow safer because you are driving the biggest vehicle on the road.
What you likely do care about is the way the overall experience makes you feel when you look at the vehicle and especially once you are inside. This, is where the Kia Telluride stands head and shoulders above much of the competition, with a value added bottom line.
Let’s get pricing out of the way. A base Telluride can be had for forty five thousand bucks, while a fully loaded, every option known to human kind is just nine grand more.
To put that into perspective, a jammed Pilot is $57K. A Durango Citadel V6 is $61K. They aren’t competitors, but it is worth mentioning that if you drop a V8 in a Durango, you can be north of 70 in the blink of an eye.
Typically, traditional domestics aren’t lumped in with traditional imports when it comes to comparisons, but there is a direct link between the Telluride and the Durango which makes them a natural comparison. Dodge is that one company I alluded to above that builds interiors that feel, well, American. I mean that in the best, highest quality way. The crazy thing is that while the Telluride offers a somewhat different flavour of that feel, it too feels like the most American thing on the road.
From wood inserts to real stitching, the Telluride feels like it was inspired by a Doctor’s lounge in an old mountain town. Unfortunately, looking through my photos, I have to say that my shots simply do not do the space justice. The interior of the Telluride is nice.
Centre row passengers were happy to be coddled by their own seat heaters and we were amazed at the number of device charging options. There are no fewer than 6 USB ports and a wireless charger that actually worked with my Samsung Galaxy S9. I mention that because many of the vehicles I have tested this year did not. It is worth checking before you buy any vehicle if wireless charging is important to you.
On the tech driver aid front, the our tester offered pretty much every nanny imaginabile, packaged into a system dubbed “Kia Drive Wise” Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS).
Smart phone users who are so inclined can use an app that Kia calls UVO to control door locks, act as a remote starter and access climate controls. It also allows the user to create road trip data on their phone and then send that plan to the vehicle’s navi system if equipped.
A regular customer in The Garage Cafe, who drives a Stinger GT warns that the UVO app is a data hog, particularly when using the mapping feature, which does not automatically disconnect itself from the vehicle once it pushes the trip info to the vehicle.
Naturally, the Telluride moves people well and with all of the seats down, you could pretty much land a small aircraft in it. Or, you could do what we did and use it to haul enough stuff to feed a couple of hundred holiday partiers.
Our week with the Telluride semi-ironically (given the direction of my story) included the first two snow storms of the season. Fortunately, our tester was shod with a full set of Yokohama iceGUARD G075 Winter tires.
This guy has driven a LOT of vehicles through Winter storms in Ontario over the years, so take note of the following statement. This combo made for the most sure footed vehicle I have ever driven in the snow. Period. The Yoko equipped Telluride offered absolutely exceptional grip on acceleration, but more importantly it also excelled under braking and while turning. Simply amazing.
With 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft, the Telluride has more than enough oomph for dailt driving and is rated to tow 5,000 lb. Our tester was not equipped with a trailer hitch, so we were not able to see how it tows.
Transport Canada rates the Telluride for 12.5/9.6 L/100km . In a mix of city & highway driving, we saw an average of 12 L/100KM. Not bad considering that it also included two snow storms.
Even if your ski trips involve dropping the kids off at the local terrain park and not heading to the mountains, the Telluride’s bang for the buck, combined with sure footed performance on the road and American style luxury make it a must drive for shoppers looking for a substantial family hauler.