From its founding, the tiny town of Telluride, Colorado, has echoed New England from a perch in the Rockies. In the 1800s, savvy industrialists filled their trains with gold and silver instead of marble and granite. Intrepid thrill-seekers in Vermont and New Hampshire conquered Appalachia, knowing full well that Colorado’s two-mile high peaks made their Green and White Mountains into mole hills. But east and west, these two regions molded their citizens into the landscape like few other places in America.
Modern transportation has erased the geographical bounds and sheer distance that once separated us. Residents in northern New England—especially the skiers, climbers, hikers, and campers venturing deep into the woods—share a desire for a dependable truck to take them there. They’ve also got money to spend on three rows of quilted nappa leather seats and big V-6 engines, and they’re not always flashing a fancy badge. Luckily for New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) journalists, a chunk of Telluride came straight to Boston: A big Kia SUV, all-new for 2020, that honestly reflects its Colorado namesake.
A few months earlier, Kia PR director James Bell asked people in Telluride what they drove. He could have gone to Stowe or North Conway for the same answers. Nearly everyone owned a Subaru. Almost no one considered a Kia. But all liked the idea of a large, boxy SUV with off-road chops and the interior trimmings of a Mercedes-Benz GLE—all for under $50,000 fully-loaded. The 2020 Telluride is exactly what Kia needs as it injects high-end style and impressive comfort into its value-conscious image. And that’s what New England motorists, regardless of whether they ever step foot on dirt, really want.
Take the Telluride SX in NEMPA’s fleet, the highest trim stickering for $46,930 with destination. It’s a handsome truck in Snow White Pearl, crisp and clean with polished black 20-inch wheels, squared LED headlights, and hockey-puck LED taillights. The spacious interior—there’s more passenger volume than a Chevy Tahoe—includes generous details, like the thick grab handles in the center console, a canted dashboard, a high-res widescreen infotainment system, and soft faux-suede on the headliner. The second-row seats heat, cool, and recline. There are up to two USB ports in each row, and an intercom can let the front passengers talk to the kids in the third row—and easily take their requests.
“If my kids are in the back and they’re complaining about my yacht rock, I can send the music only to the front,” said Neil Dunlop, Kia’s eastern PR manager.
The Telluride starts at $31,690 for a front-wheel drive LX. That includes a 3.8-liter V-6 with 291 horsepower, 8-speed automatic, 18-inch wheels, and cutting-edge safety like Safe Exit Assist, which uses the rear radar sensors to detect if an approaching vehicle makes it unsafe to open the rear doors. That’s in addition to standard forward emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and a driver attention monitor. An eight-inch ground clearance, brake-based torque vectoring, and a locking mode to split the optional all-wheel drive 50/50 front and rear ensure the Telluride can make it up the mountain. For now, the Telluride will make its way onto NEMPA driveways, many of which, like in the real Telluride, are still dusted with snow.