Kia Telluride joins the big, boxy SUV race

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
The 2020 Kia Telluride is revealed during the North American International Auto Show on Monday in Detroit.

Detroit — Kia Motors is looking to compete in the American market of big and boxy SUVs with its new 2020 Telluride.

The Korean automaker’s largest vehicle ever comes to the scene shortly after Hyundai entered the three-row crossover space and Ford Motor Co. unveiled its Explorer. The Telluride was the first Kia designed for the U.S. in its Irvine, California, center and is more rugged than the midsize Sorento SUV.

"It's one of the fast-growing segments," Kia Motors North America CEO Michael Cole said of the U.S. market for large SUVs. "This is a 1.6 billion market, and when we look at the forecasts over the new couple of years, it's expected to be a 1.8 billion market. This is somewhere we needed to be."

The new flagship SUV shown Monday at the Detroit auto show is squarish with a long, broad hood, wide grille and upright windshield. Its Atkinson Cycle Lambda II 3.8-liter V-6  produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque and can pull up to 5,000 pounds. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

"This is the perfect vehicle for everyday adventures, discovering the great unknown places of this country," Saad Chehab, vice president of marketing communications for Kia Motors America, said Monday at the North American International Auto Show. "It's equal parts rugged and refined."

Kia's new SUV comes in four trims: LX, EX, S and SX.

The Telluride is front-wheel drive with an on-demand, all-wheel-drive option. With it, drivers have their choice of four regular driving modes and two settings for specific driving conditions. Eco and Smart modes deliver 100 percent power to the front wheels, while Comfort and Snow modes deliver 80 percent power to the front wheels and 20 percent to the rear. Sport mode splits the power 65-35 percent front and back. Lock mode evenly delivers power to all four wheels.

The Telluride has interior hooks for bags, a wide console with grab handles and an optional self-leveling rear suspension to adjust ride height based on cargo weight on the EX and SX models. Its third-row seats recline.

The 2020 Kia Teluride is driven onto a platform during its reveal at the North American International Auto Show.

The Telluride also is packed with more technology features than any Kia SUV before it. A 10.25-inch touchscreen is available to access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The “Kia Drive Wise” Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems offer numerous standard and available driver-assistance technologies, including front and rear collision-avoidance, lane-keeping assist and other safety features.

The 2020 Telluride is built in West Point, Georgia, and is expected to be available on a limited basis in later March or early April. A price will be disclosed closer to that time, the automaker said.

Visitors to the North American International Auto Show will have the chance to take a ride in the new vehicle on the Telluride Torque Track.