2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky. A Great Value

2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky: Overview

2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky

As Kia introduced the Borrego, its first full-size SUV in North America in 2008, it was barely a success also due to the global financial crisis. Very few people even remember this name.

But the passionate Hyundai-KIA Group was determined the get a slice from the flourishing SUV market. Kia (along with Hyundai) entered the three-row segment with its flagship Telluride SUV last year, crowned by strong sales and multiple awards: AJAC chose it as the best large utility vehicle in Canada. And it won the title of World Car Awards’, best car of the year in 2020. Autotrader chose the Telluride as the best three-row SUV in 2021.

Now Kia has a strong presence with its large, powerful and comfortable big SUV on the North American market. This is the biggest Kia has ever. Telluride was designed and is built in the U.S., as a 7-or 8-seater. There are four levels: EX, SX, SX Limited and SX Limited Nightsky.

The sharp, rectangular and masculine design spells originality and character. We already know that going back to the beginning of the previous decade, Kia vehicles experienced a renaissance in design and built quality. Peter Schreyer started this renaissance. And also worth remembering that ex-Bentley designer Luc Donckerwolke, who joined the Kia/Hyundai team in 2015 and left 2020, may have exercised some influence with this design.

The rectangular amber running lights that surround the headlights refer also to the rectangular body design and pronounce a strong character

2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky: Engine And Powertrain

The Telluride shares the 261 lb-ft of torque, 291-horsepower, 3.8L V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with the Hyundai Palisade, its corporate cousin and competitor

Telluride’s power comes from a 261 lb-ft of torque, 291-hp 3.8LV6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic. (Not coincidentally, it is the same powertrain found in Hyundai’s new three-row Palisade crossover). Recently we are used to having punchy turbo engines across the categories. This one is a naturally aspirated engine but delivers sufficient torque and power thanks to its large displacement. Switch to Sport for a slightly more exciting driving experience.

2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky: Interior

To define the interior of the Telluride in one sentence, I would say a well-designed, functional and spacious cabin for the family. The built quality is impressively high and we think that the Group’s experience with Genis, its luxury brand created some consequences for good.

The range-topping Nightsky Edition offers almost everything as standard. From LED headlights to the 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, a full list of safety features such as adaptive cruise with stop and go, blind-spot warning and assist rear cross-traffic alert and assist, lane flow assist, driver attention alert, rear parking sensors, rear-seat reminder system, forward collision mitigation, high beam assist, rear parking sensors, sunroof, UVO telematics, wireless cellphone charger, proximity key, a power liftgate, heated steering wheel,  leather seats, ventilated front seats, Harman Kardon audio system, 360-degree camera, dual sunroof, 20-inch alloys and more. What you get for your money is simply impressive and a nightmare for the competitors.

The tablet-style, 10.25″ infotainment screen has control buttons for all main functions, instead of touchscreen controls for a safer and less-distracting drive.

A well-designed dashboard with a clear instrument cluster and tablet-style infotainment screen are the common features of the late KIA models

The black leather interior is standard with the Nightsky package

The seats in the first and second row are very comfortable and multi-way adjustable. The Nightsky version has second-row captain chairs and is a 7-seater instead of 8. Thanks to the one-button, quick-fold functions of the second-row seats, access to the third row is relatively easy.

For most functions of the infotainment screen, you can use actual buttons instead of distracting touchscreen operation, a feature of not only comfort but also safe driving

The second-row seats are also heated and cooled, which is more common with luxury brands.

The second-row captain chairs are not only comfortable but heated and cooled too. One-button slide function along with long rear doors make third-row access easier

The third row is easily accessible and can accommodate three adults, even if it is not ideal for long rides

The cargo volume is spacious even behind the third row. With a towing capacity of 5.000 pounds (2,232 tons), this KIA is a real workhorse too.

The cargo volume behind the third raw is 601 litres and can be increased to 1304 litres with folded third-row seats and 2,455 litres with folded second-row seats

2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky: Driving Impressions

The big Kia has a safe and composed ride.  The 20″ allow wheels with Michelin tires provide a good grip. The Telluride offers four driving modes: Comfort, Sport, Eco and Smart. When choosing Eco and Smart, the system sends the entire torque to the front wheels for better fuel economy. The Terrain setting has three drive parameters: Snow, Mud or Sand. We could not test Terrain due to perfect road and weather conditions for most of our one-week test drive. But I enjoyed using the Sport mode imitating the passion of a dad with kids “sentenced” to a utility vehicle at least until the kids grow up but one day have a sports car. I wish I had a more direct steering response Eco and Comfort mode too. By for many drivers, the current setup will work well. With a rotary selector, you can choose various drive modes easily.


20″ alloy wheels with Michelin tires provide good contact with the road. The Telluride remains on the comfort side of the equilibrium in general

One nice feature we tested in recent Hyundai, Kia and Genesis models is the blind spot monitor that brings a live video stream to the right or left side of the gauge cluster when the turn signal is activated. It requires some getting-used but a driver-assist system to check your blind spots. Some conservative or old-fashioned drivers would murmur and say, “Adjust your mirrors properly and you will not need anything else.”

At the end of our one-week, mixed-mode test drive, we came up with an average consumption of 10.6 litres. This is within the limits of NRC measurements. (See the window sticker below)

2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky: Pricing and Equipment

For details of pricing and equipment, see the window sticker of our tester below:


2021 Kia Telluride Nightsky: Conclusion

With the Telluride, its biggest vehicle And now, Kia raised the bar. With tones of standards features, the ride quality and its competitive price the Telluride will definitely attract buyers. As these vehicles age and will start populating the used car market more and more in the next few years is we will have a better idea about the long-term durability.

If you are shopping for a 3-row SUV, with up to seven people and a lot of stuff to carry and tow, the Telluride will be in your short-list

For more detailed information, please visit: http://www.kia.ca