Back in 2019, the Kia Telluride made its world debut, a three-row SUV that was big, bold and boxy, conveying the kind of presence associated with the original SUVs. And with a name like Telluride, it conveyed that it was ready to tackle mountain passes, rugged off-road trails and nearly every other kind of road under Colorado’s wide western sky.
The Telluride appeared to check off all the boxes, providing comfortable seating for up to eight people, a powerful 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, available active on-demand all-wheel drive, and a low starting price of just $32,190. The big question, would people be able to look beyond the Kia badge and appreciate this SUV for what it brings to the table?
In a word, yes! The Kia Telluride has been a runaway success, with Motor Trend naming it their SUV of the Year, Car and Driver placing it on their 10 Best list, NACTOY awarding it the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and U.S. News & World Report naming it the Best 3-Row SUV for Families. Heck, it’s been such a hot seller that most Kia dealerships can’t even keep them on the lots! Those are some impressive achievements, to say the least.
So when I got the chance to review a 2021 Kia Telluride SX AWD for a week, I was very excited to put it through its paces and see what all the hype was about. Let me tell you, my first impressions upon seeing the car was that it’s waaaaaay better looking in person, the Gravity Gray paint really popping in the sunlight, and the Nightfall Edition blackout treatment giving it a more aggressive look. From some angles, I was getting a bit of a Range Rover vibe from it.
When I like the overall styling of the Telluride, the one thing that has always bugged me about it was the sheer amount of chrome it has. Thankfully, for 2021 Kia has introduced a new Nightfall Edition package that addresses this, adding a number of gloss black elements to the vehicle to give it a more aggressive yet sophisticated character.
Exclusive Nightfall Edition exterior elements include a newly designed radiator grill in black finish, unique 20-inch wheels in black finish with black lug nuts and center caps, gloss black roof rails, gloss black greenhouse trim/lower door side molding, gloss black skid plates, gloss black front bumper side air-duct garnish, gloss black emblems (incl. unique Kia logos), LED headlamps and fog lamps with black inner bezel, and body color door handles. This package costs $1,295, and I personally think it’s worth every penny!
The interior of the Kia Telluride is equally nice, with an abundance of premium materials used throughout to give it a decidedly upscale feel. There’s double-stitched, quilted Nappa leather trim upholstery, matte-finished wood, brushed metal finishes, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, leather-wrapped, tilt and telescoping steering wheel (which is heated), a 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system and more. Our Telluride also had second-row captain chairs, which were sweet. The third row is usable, but best suited for kids.
Like what you’ve read so far? Then check out the rest of our 2021 Kia Telluride review and see if we think you should add one to your garage! (Spoiler alert, we do)