Like its namesake town tucked into Colorado's Rocky Mountains, Kia's new 2020 Telluride is rugged and adventurous, seating seven or eight, has a powerful engine, posh interior and stylish lines.

What more could a family want, especially in a crowded SUV market of $50,000+ vehicles?

Fit for hauling larger crews, Telluride is longer, wider and taller than its smaller sibling Sorento, just as much at home in the rugged terrain as a night on the town.

Pros:

Room to stretch in all three rows

Lots of standard safety equipment

Affordable base trim

Cons:

Just one powertrain

Limited cabin storage

Upper trim pricey

The Telluride was a big hit during test week, attracting passersby in parking lots wanting to take a closer look while admiring its sleek curb appeal. One woman couldn't wait to check out sub-floor storage compartments, great for smaller items in addition to its class-leading 21 cubic feet of cargo space—larger than Ford's Expedition—behind third-row seats.

The closest large Kia model was the short-lived Borrego that debuted in 2009 and was discontinued the same year for lack of market interest.

How things change.

Available in four trim levels, LX, S, EX and SX, the base Telluride can be in your driveway for around $31,690. Kia classifies its Telluride as a mid-size SUV but it compares favorably with larger Volvo and Range Rovers.

We were impressed with the amount of standard safety equipment that includes rear blind spot, forward collision and lane-departure warnings, lane following and lane-keeping assists, rear cross traffic collision avoidance, reverse parking distance warning and adaptive cruise control.

And Telluride approaches self-steering with available Highway Driving Assist on the EX and SX. It takes adaptive cruise to the next level with the ability to steer with GPS guidance data and a windshield camera. We liked this seamless feature ... although Kia cautions to keep a hand on the wheel.

With V-6 power and eight-speed transmission on all Tellurides, its drive is further enhanced with Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart drive modes to alter throttle response, suspension and gearing. We recorded a flat seven seconds in multiple tests of zero to 60 in Sport mode.

Active on-demand all-wheel drive splits power from full front wheel to 35 percent rear drive.

An instrument panel graphic displays live torque variation.

Offroad outings are further enhanced with eight-inch ground clearance.

Self-leveling rear air suspension is also available.

Inside cabin treatment is top notch, rivaling many luxury offerings for a lot less coin. Simulated wood trim and fabricated brushed metal adorn interior panels for an exquisite look and feel.

We think Kia has a hit with Telluride. It sporty looks, precise handling and quiet ride give it a one up over rivals such as Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford's Explorer/Expedition.

We suggest including the new Kia offering on your short list of test drives.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at lenscarcorner@comcast.net

2020 Kia Telluride SX AWD

Base Telluride: $31,690

Engine: 3.8-liter, V-6, 291 horsepower

EPA rated mileage: 19 city, 24 highway, 21 combined

Assembled: West Point, Ga.; U.S./Canadian parts content, 51 percent; major source of parts, Korea, 49 percent; country of origin, engine, Korea; transmission, U.S.

Crash-test ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not yet rated the Telluride.

Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile bumper to bumper; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain

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