The Kia Telluride is a shining star in a sea of vanilla SUVs that look so similar even buyers sometimes can’t remember what they drive. With the Telluride, Kia has found the sweet spot of style and practicality, which explains why so many Canadians have made it their vehicle of choice. It’s hard to drive through a suburban neighbourhood or pass a school carpool line without seeing at least one. Often, you’ll see several.
Finding a Kia Telluride for sale isn’t easy because demand remains high. The Telluride’s meteoric rise shows no signs of slowing down, yet the engineers at Kia aren’t resting on their laurels. Next up is a spate of EVs designed to win buyers over to an all-electric, zero-emissions lifestyle. This new era of electrification threatens to render gas-powered vehicles like the Telluride obsolete. Still, are Canadians ready to give up their beloved Tellurides? Kia is betting big that the all-new EV9 will offer would-be Telluride buyers a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Can this innovative EV disrupt the Kia Telluride’s status? What will it take to win buyers over when the SUV they drive already ticks all the boxes? Or can these two substantially different vehicles coexist in the Kia lineup and possibly draw new buyers to Kia dealerships? Here’s an overview of what the next several years could look like for Kia, the wildly popular Telluride SUV, and the Canadian driving public.
The Telluride: A Fan Favorite of Canadian Families
Boasting three rows that comfortably seat up to eight passengers and a plethora of advanced driver-assist technologies, the family-friendly Kia Telluride caters to the needs of busy Canadian families. The thoughtfully designed interior features plenty of USB charging ports, tons of standard and available display screens and infotainment features, and extra cargo space for sports gear or stowing luggage for a family road trip.
A potent 3.8L V6 engine churns out 291 ponies, enough to make mom and dad smile but not so much that fuel economy is compromised. Up to 2,268 kg of towing capacity make the Telluride a great choice for hauling boats or RVs. With assistance from systems like Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, the Telluride is a pleasure to drive, even when the day is filled with errands and carpools.
The Telluride’s evenly balanced, feature-rich attributes make it an easy choice for families. And choose they have, with sales exceeding many of the most popular competing models for the past several years. Kia’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Telluride was named the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s Best Large Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2023. The 2023 version comes in five trims and a range of prices that suit a variety of buyers.
Kia EV9: Ushering in a New Era
Right when the industry started thinking that Telluride was unstoppable, an unlikely competitor emerged. Interestingly, the competition comes from within Kia, and in many areas, the Telluride is ill-equipped to compete. Vying for next-generation market share is the upcoming Kia EV9, an all-electric SUV teased by Kia on a splashy pre-launch website. At first glance, the EV9 looks like a Star Wars Stormtrooper version of the Telluride, but skim the details, and it’s evident this is an entirely different beast.
First off, the EV9 features an entirely flat floor. Say goodbye to the back seat “hump” traditionally necessary for a bulky driveshaft; the EV9 is designed so everyone gets a great seat with tons of legroom. Speaking of legroom, the EV9 also offers three rows of seating, just like its gas-powered cousin, the Telluride. Kia estimates that the new EV9 will deliver up to 480 km of all-electric range, which means you can do all your daily errands on a single charge and drive right past the gas station.
Inside, the EV9 looks more like a rocket ship than a passenger car, with its dual 31 cm display screens and a 13 cm segment display converting the dashboard into a completely digital array. As with most EVs, the cabin favours a minimalist design aesthetic. On the exterior, a flat body panel replaces the unnecessary front grille, and from a bird’s eye view, a two-panel sunroof is visible. The 2024 EV9 will come with two available powertrains: a 201 hp version and a powerful 379 hp option.
Telluride vs EV9: Specs, Performance, and Price
The EV9 boasts an anticipated 571 L of cargo space behind the third row. With both rear seats folded flat, that number increases to 2,320 L. You’ll find a maximum of 2,455 L of cargo capacity in the 2023 Telluride and 601 L with both rear seats upright. While the difference is small, it’s still notable. Regarding performance, the Telluride’s single 291 hp engine splits the difference between the EV9’s two available powertrains, which means purchasing a less expensive Telluride trim won’t require sacrificing power.
Though Kia hasn’t released the EV9’s full list of specifications, as the flagship EV in the electric lineup, it’s expected that the EV9 will rival the Telluride for luxury and technology features. Positioned as a rival to other “ultra-luxury” SUVs, the EV9 utilizes Kia’s “Opposites United” design philosophy to inform both the interior and exterior design. This manifests in driver-centric features like the dual-display cockpit and multi-camera monitoring system that feeds data to a robust suite of driver-assist technologies. Kia will offer the EV9 with optional all-wheel drive. The system gets its power from a pair of electric motors and utilizes torque vectoring to distribute torque to the wheels with the most traction.
Rear-seat passengers will luxuriate in the planned “Relaxation Mode” seating, which, when activated, provides power leg rests, eight-way power seats, and heating and cooling. In total, the EV9 seats up to seven passengers but can be configured for six, with captain’s chairs replacing the rear bench seat. As for charging, the 800V architecture means a DC fast charger can bring the battery up to 80 percent in under 25 minutes.
Still, traditionalists aren’t giving up much by remaining true to the Telluride. While it lacks EV characteristics, which include gas-free driving, minimal maintenance, and more advanced in-cabin technology, the Telluride offers slightly more cargo space, the same futuristic styling, and a dynamic trim lineup that offers buyers as much luxury and utility as they desire. Considering the 2023 version has been rated highly by organizations like AJAC, it’s an SUV choice that doesn’t require compromise.
The Road Ahead: Does the Shift to EVs Mark the End of the Telluride’s Reign?
The onslaught of powerful, technologically advanced EVs on the horizon, coupled with increasingly strict emissions laws, might suggest that SUVs like the Telluride are about to become extinct. But car buyers seem to be telling a different story. It’s still the early days of EV adoption, and some drivers simply aren’t ready to make the transition.
The Telluride continues to cater to a demographic comprised of families that see no reason to shift to all-electric power. Right now, the current Telluride provides the space, reliability, comfort, and familiarity a large percentage of buyers prefer. As such, the answer might be that the EV9 and the Telluride are less competitors than comrades. By launching the EV9, Kia demonstrates its broad and inclusive approach to vehicle design.
The rise of the EV9 shouldn’t signal the end of the Telluride’s reign; instead, it ushers in an exciting new and environmentally friendly chapter for Kia and the Canadian driving public, which is a win for everyone.