The 2020 Kia Telluride is Kia Motors largest SUV. Blurring the lines of luxury and receiving a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Telluride has a lot going for it. The 2020 Kia Telluride even wins out on comparisons with competitors – even the Hyundai Palisade pales in the face of the 2020 Kia Telluride. However, when the 2020 Kia Telluride concept was first unveiled, there was a lot more in store than what made it into production. One of the reasons the 2020 Kia Telluride got the green light for production, and the reasons why it got the green light in the first place, was because of the great reception the concept received from consumers and reporters when it debuted at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. So, imagine the surprise when half of the reasons why people liked it disappeared.
What We Were Promised
When the first concept of the 2020 Kia Telluride debuted in Detroit, it was supposed to be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) SUV. If Kia Motors could do it with a crossover, an SUV was the next logical step. We knew an internal combustion engine (ICE) would make up half the powertrain, but 3.8-liter Lambda DOHC 24-valve V6 engine dashed that plan. With Kia Motors planning to go all-electric, the Telluride PHEV may already be on the cutting room floor.
Inside they kept the second-row Captain’s Chairs but where are the foldable footrests? What happened to the large sunroof that was basically the roof itself? Where’s all the cool technology like the Light-Emitted Rejuvenation (LER) therapeutic system, or the Smart Sensors embedded into the front four seats, or the fingerprint-activated push-button start, or the Swipe Command touch-sensitive second-row media-control band? For an automaker that has been steadily rising to the top, way to drop the ball. The Telluride may have spearheaded sales in March when it was released, but we feel a little lied to.
For one, it was a concept. Almost every concept is packed to the brim with cool gadgets to get consumers interested, but it’s a pipe dream to think a vehicle will stay the same from paper to production. With regulations, production constraints, and the costs that aren’t factored into a concept, designs end up watered down. According to the Telluride’s lead designer, Tom Kearns, in an interview with Motor1.com, everything was a fight. Even simple things, like the three HVAC vents in the middle of the original concept, the engineers and accountants argued that it was easier and cheaper to go with the standard two vents.
The added layer of wiring and mounting that would have to go into production couldn’t be justified except for it looking cool. That’s why features jet lag detection and heart rate monitoring didn’t make the final cut. Even styling details, like the chrome brightwork on the Telluride Concept’s B-pillar that surrounded the windows, was completely changed. The way Kia Motors puts it, getting anything different past the accountants poses a huge challenge.
What do you think? Sure, some of those features were a bit outlandish, but carmakers need to start putting their money where their mouth is – literally in this case. Competition is only getting more fierce by the year, and the next time an automaker shuffles a concept around, they better be prepared for the blowback. Join the discussion on Miami Lakes Kia social media, or check out the actual 2020 Kia Telluride SUV when you stop by Miami Lakes Automall for a test drive.