No Excuses. The 2021 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD

A trope of mid-century (the previous one) America was the "Shhhh. They'll never know it's not a (fill in the blank of a higher-priced item)" ad. What made them pathetic was that the knock-offs they were selling were so unconvincing. Nobody with a Mercedes was going to think that the Cadillac was one, much less the Ford Granada.

That said, I don't think it's a coincidence that Kia made its Telluride look a lot like a Range Rover. The difference is that the Telluride is, by any yardstick, a tremendous luxury SUV.

Under the hood is a 3.8-liter, 291-horsepower V6 engine. Smooth as glass, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Active on-demand all-wheel drive. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 19 miles per gallon city, 24 highway.

And the ride and handling is every bit as smooth as the engine.

Inside, it's plenty of room for people and things, with beautiful design, high quality materials and excellent fit and finish. It feels for all the world like a $70,000 vehicle.

The 2021 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD is the top of the Telluride line. It's base price is $44,090 (even more astonishing, the base Telluride SX begins at $31,990). The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are heated and ventilated leather-trimmed front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a power sunroof and acoustic windshield and front door glass.

Our test vehicle did have some extra cost options. The SX Prestige Package (head up display, 110 volt inverter, Nappa leather seat trim, premium cloth headliner and sun visors, heated and ventilated second-row seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers) was $2,300. The Towing Package (a tow hitch and self-leveling rear suspension) was $795. Carpeted floor mats were $210 and a cargo cover was $155.

And that's it. So even with $1,170 inland freight and handling, the as-tested price of the 2021 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD comes in well below $50K at $48,720.

We've had mid-size SUVs go into the mid-50s recently, so a full-size, fully-loaded Telluride at this price is almost shocking. It's also why you're probably seeing a lot of these on the street now. Those are smart people.

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