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The Kia Telluride is the 2020 MotorTrend SUV of the Year

The Kia Telluride’s achievement as winner of MotorTrend’s 2020 SUV of the Year award is more inevitability than incongruity.

It’s been a long time coming for a company that was founded in 1944 and for decades has lived with the backhanded compliment of building “cheap and cheerful” transportation for buyers on a budget.

But this award is the deserved recognition that today’s Korean auto industry has evolved to possess the skill and talent to design, engineer, and manufacture world-class vehicles—ones able to best their mainstream Japanese, European, and American rivals in terms of style, dynamics, refinement, and build quality.

Manufactured in West Point, Georgia, the Telluride is a Kia built in America for Americans: a comfortable and roomy three-row SUV that’s perfectly pitched at the heart of a highly competitive segment that includes products from Chevy, Dodge, and Ford, as well as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, and Volkswagen.

Read about Car, SUV, and Truck of the Year contenders and finalists HERE


As expected of a Kia, the Telluride is a terrific value, offering lavish levels of standard equipment even in the $32,785 base model. And when you load it up to its as-tested $46,910 price, it absolutely deflates its mass-market competition.

But value is only one element of what makes the Telluride our 2020 Sport Utility of the Year. Our exhaustive judging process, in which each contender is evaluated in the context of our six key criteria, means the winning vehicle must be a well-rounded product, regardless of its functional focus.

So although its price makes the headlines, what helped the Kia Telluride garner seven first-place votes from our 11 judges is that it’s anything but bargain basement in the way it looks, the way it drives, and the way it effortlessly copes with the modern American family’s needs.

“Pleasing overall design, with nicely executed linework and surfacing,” guest judge and former Chrysler design chief Tom Gale said during his design walkaround.

“One of the very few three-row crossovers that I actually like driving,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said after he pushed the Telluride around our SUVOTY proving ground’s challenging winding road.


“The Koreans have become masters at studying what everyone else does right, picking the best practices, and implementing them,” Detroit editor Alisa Priddle added during the debate before the final vote.

MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina summed up the Kia this way: “The Telluride really nails the criteria.”

Let’s take a closer look at how.

Advancement in Design

The Telluride is the largest SUV yet from Kia, measuring 2.8 inches longer overall than its Borrego predecessor, with a 0.2-inch-longer wheelbase. But it wears its size well thanks to exterior styling that is both confident and sophisticated. The large grille makes a statement without being overbearing, and the headlights have been pulled back from the corners to visually reduce the front overhang. “The imposing stance and good proportions impressively disguise the dash-to-axle ratio inherent to the front-wheel-drive architecture,” guest judge Johan de Nysschen said.

On the bodyside, simple surfaces mostly tell their own story instead of becoming a stage for entertainment riven with random cuts and lines. The greenhouse is subtly sporty, amplifying the slight rake to the D-pillar without compromising practicality. The rear graphic, bracketed by commalike taillights, is strong and distinctive. Even the base LX model gets jewelry such as the contrasting silver panels at the lower edges of the front and rear fascias and the brightwork around the greenhouse and at the base of the doors.

The Telluride looks substantial but is also friendly and approachable. There are some playful Easter eggs in the detailing, such as the castellation in the brightwork at the B-pillar, a nod to similar detailing in the Kia grille and on the upper edge of the windshield, and the indent at the lower front corner of the front doors.

The interior is just as confident and as sophisticated as the exterior. Again, even the base LX trim’s interior looks well equipped and well finished. As for the range-topping SX: “I keep looking around the cabin and reminding myself this SUV costs only 47 grand,” executive editor Mark Rechtin said after he climbed into our tester’s Dune Brown Nappa leather-trimmed interior. “It feels like a rustic-modernist house of a millionaire rancher.”

The interior not only looks good but is also practical and usable. Although the third row is for teenagers, adults will fit, and smartly located seat-fold buttons and grab handles to get in and out of the rear doors offer better functionality than the comparably sized Mercedes and BMW SUVs. Then there’s the detail stuff, like both the second and third rows getting their own USB ports to keep all the family’s devices happily charged and functioning.

“Kia shames many luxury automakers offering vehicles costing twice as much,” Seabaugh said. “Fit and finish are superb, materials are excellent, and the color mixture is wonderful.”

Engineering Excellence

The Telluride shares its platform and mechanicals with the new Hyundai Palisade. There’s only one powertrain option—the 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 with an eight-speed automatic—but buyers can choose to upgrade from the standard front-wheel-drive drivetrain to all-wheel drive on all four available trims. It’s a $2,000 option.

Although the V-6 engine could use a little more than its 262 lb-ft of torque in the 4,460-pound SX AWD model, the fully loaded Telluride is still quicker to 60 mph and over the quarter mile than an entry-level Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 4Matic, which costs $10,000 more without options. What’s more, the Telluride also comfortably punches above its price point in terms of ride, refinement, and low noise levels.

And while most behemoth SUVs must sacrifice steering and handling for comfort, “It drives so much smaller than it is,” Seabaugh said. “It feels like a good two-row crossover, with crisp turn-in and feel for the segment, excellent ride quality, and great body control.” Its suspension is just a tad bouncy, but gusting crosswinds hardly fazed the Telluride when driving at 100 mph on our high-speed oval.

But it was on the gnarly, grainy, chattery, chunky surfaces on our 28-mile test loop outside Tehachapi where the big Kia really impressed the judges. Editor-in-chief Ed Loh praised its “exceptional quietness and smoothness,” and de Nysschen noted that “suspension compliance and ride comfort are its strengths.”


A rotary controller on the center console—which also allows drivers to switch between Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Smart modes, the latter of which lets the onboard computers figure out the best combination of efficiency and response—has a Snow mode, which adjusts throttle, transmission, and traction control settings to suit low-friction surfaces. A button in the center of the controller locks the center differential for ultimate traction in challenging conditions. Driven with due regard to its 8.0 inches of ground clearance, 17.0-degree approach and 20.9-degree departure angles, and 114.2-inch wheelbase, the Telluride will comfortably cope with bad roads and worse weather.


Even with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, a large three-row SUV with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine under the hood will never be a paragon of fuel efficiency. The Telluride’s EPA fuel consumption numbers—20/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined for front-wheel-drive models and 19/24/21 mpg city/highway/combined for all-wheel-drive models—are right on average for the segment.

Kia engineers have worked to control the Telluride’s overall weight, without resorting to expensive lightweight materials. The fully loaded SX AWD weighs 196 pounds more than the two-row Honda Passport Elite and 265 pounds less than the Cadillac XT6 Sport AWD 400.


All Telluride models come with an impressive complement of passive and active safety features, with technology such as active cruise control, lane keeping assist, a forward collision alert system that also recognizes pedestrians, rear cross-traffic alert, and torque vectoring by brake standard even on the base LX.

The SX comes equipped with Kia’s camera-based blind-spot monitor, which shows a high-def, wide-angle image of the appropriate side of the vehicle on the digital instrument panel when the turn signal is activated. It’s a great feature for a quick extra check when changing lanes on the freeway and invaluable in crowded cities where cyclists can suddenly materialize alongside while you’re making a right-hand turn.



The base Telluride LX has an MSRP of $32,785. For that you get 18-inch alloy wheels and a ton of equipment—ranging from niceties like air conditioning and a leather-bound steering wheel to Kia’s 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android-compatible UVO infotainment system interface and five USB charge ports. And, as mentioned, the price includes a full suite of active safety technologies and driver assistance aids. Plus, there’s room aboard for six sprawling passengers (it’ll fit eight, in a pinch), with a 60/40 split-folding second row and a reclining third row that provides ample room for three preteen children.

Senior production editor Zach Gale noted approvingly that even the base LX model came with the same powertrain and many of the features, such as the powered second row, as the range-topping SX: “What I really like about this SUV is how much of its experience isn’t tied to the loaded trim.”

The base Kia Telluride is a terrific value as a family vehicle. But so is upgrading to the $42,585 Telluride SX. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, a thunderous Harman Kardon surround sound audio system, dual sunroofs, and a 12-way adjustable driver’s seat with memory.

Add just three key options—all-wheel drive ($2,000); the towing package ($795), which adds self-leveling rear suspension; and the SX Prestige package ($2,000), which includes a head-up display, heated and ventilated second-row seats, and the soft Nappa leather trim—and it’s an impressively smooth and quiet, lavishly equipped, and beautifully finished SUV that puts even ritzy rides like the standard-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator on notice. All for $47,380.

Or, as Loh put it: “A handsome SUV, loaded with the goodies families want (and want to show off), for a WTF price.”

Performance of Intended Function

Smartly styled, loaded with standard equipment, roomy and pleasant to drive, and, to cap it all, an astonishingly good value, the 2020 Kia Telluride is one of the most compelling family SUVs on the market today. Performance of intended function? Nailed it.


It just does everything right,” features editor Scott Evans said. “It’s quiet, comfortable, smooth, stylish, and affordable. What more could you ask for?”

That’s the real genius of our 2020 SUV of the Year. A great mass-market, mid-price family SUV like the Kia Telluride is a very, very hard product to execute. We’ll posit that it’s harder, in fact, than making a good luxury SUV—where the price premium afforded by the badge gives designers and engineers more spending headroom on equipment and tech that improve performance and refinement, along with perceived quality and luxury.

In an era when consumer behavior is influenced by an unremitting cycle of social media show and tell, buyers of affordable mainstream vehicles want to feel special. They want to feel they are getting a vehicle that has premium levels of style and quality, features and technology, and refinement and dynamic capability without paying a premium price. And with the Telluride, Kia’s designers and engineers have delivered an SUV that does exactly that.

2020 Kia Telluride SX V6 AWD
ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 230.6 cu in/3,778cc
POWER (SAE NET) 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 262 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 15.3 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
BRAKES, F; R 13.4-in vented disc; 12.0-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.5 x 20-in cast aluminum
TIRES 245/50R20 102V M+S Michelin Primacy Tour A/S
WHEELBASE 114.2 in
TRACK, F/R 67.2/67.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 196.9 x 78.3 x 68.9 in
CURB WEIGHT 4,460 lb
HEADROOM, F/M/R 39.5/38.8/37.8 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 41.4/42.4/31.4 in
SHOULDER ROOM, FM//R 61.6/59.9/55.3 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/M/R 87.0/46.0/21.0 cu ft
0-30 2.5 sec
0-40 4.0
0-50 5.3
0-60 7.2
0-70 9.3
0-80 11.4
0-90 14.4
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.7
QUARTER MILE 15.4 sec @ 90.5 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.7 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,700 rpm
BASE PRICE $44,585
AIRBAGS 7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY 5 years/60,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 years/100,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 years/60,000 miles
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/140 kW-hr/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.93 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

Three-Row SUVs Compared: Explorer, Telluride, Palisade, Enclave, and CX-9

Hey, you. Yes, you. Don’t pretend you just noticed something on the back of your hand or that your phone is buzzing in your pocket. We’re talking to you. You who couldn’t get enough of procreating and now need three rows of seating in a vehicle. We know you well enough to know that you don’t want a minivan and that only a two-box crossover will do. Lucky for you, carmakers are swiping right on you, which explains the flood of new three-row products tailored for your life. There’s so much churn in the class right now that, for most of our testers, this is our first exposure to three of these models.

Most promising is the Ford Explorer. It might look like a malnourished example of the last-generation model, all vacuum-packed bulge split by bone lines, but it’s so new that the engine is facing a different direction, and if you don’t opt for all-wheel drive, the torque goes only to the rear wheels. Ford’s turbo­charged 2.3-liter inline-four is on duty and has 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque turning the Ford/GM co-developed 10-speed automatic. The XLT is the lowliest Explorer trim, and this one packs all-wheel drive (a $2000 upcharge), 20-inch wheels ($1295), Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite ($795), and a towing package ($710), for a grand total of $46,810.


Hyundai and Kia have built three-row crossovers before, even big ones, but who besides us remembers the Veracruz and the Borrego? The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are the first big Korean crossovers poised to make a real mark on the segment. They share a lot, including their 291-hp V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission, and platform. Both have a 114.2-inch wheelbase, the test’s shortest, but somehow the second-row seats are among the roomiest. At our $48,000 price target, you get a Palisade Limited with all-wheel drive, which means its window sticker abounds with standard equipment, from a pair of sunroofs to lane-keeping assistance to auto-leveling rear dampers. Toss in $160 for floor mats and this Palisade is a $47,655 proposition.

The Telluride’s top trim level, SX, also includes stuff like the two sunroofs and the second-row captain’s chairs, but it caters to a slightly more frugal buyer by leaving off a few extras. This one, of course, added them in with the $2000 SX Prestige package. Fully loaded, our Telluride came with ventilated second-row seats, richer leather, and a fake-suede headliner, among other goodies, for a final tally of $46,910.

Buick’s second-gen Enclave is two years old, which makes it a slightly familiar member of the group. It remains related to the Chevy Traverse and is built on the same long version of the C1 platform. GM’s corporate 3.6-liter V-6 makes 310 horses here and a nine-speed transaxle does the shifting. Our Essence-trim example is one step up from Buick’s base model, and all-wheel drive adds $2000 to the chit. Spending an additional $1695 for the Sport Touring package nets 20-inch machined-face aluminum wheels and a unique grille. Powered front and fixed rear sunroofs cost $1400, while the $495 black paint and $270 set of floor mats land this Enclave at $49,055, the highest price in the test.


The Mazda CX-9 is the known quantity here, having been atop this hill for three 10Best awards as well as through two comparison tests in which it vanquished the Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent, and Volkswagen Atlas. Mazda isn’t messing with success. The big news for the CX-9 this year is more standard equipment and available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Mazda’s 250-hp turbo­charged four-cylinder and six-speed automatic are unchanged. Our Signature test vehicle stands at the top of the CX-9 mountain and includes all of Mazda’s juiciest equipment—adaptive cruise, keyless entry and start, and the brand’s G-Vectoring Control steering-feel-boosting system. Special paint, a cargo mat, and illuminated sill plates add $975 to the bottom line, bringing our Mazda to $47,385.

To see how the Mazda measures up against its latest competitors, we steered north to family-friendly Petos­key and then into the Upper Peninsula for the winding roads along Lake Michigan—which does, technically, experience semidiurnal water-level changes. Here we learned that the tide in this segment is indeed turning.



Kia Motors Ranked Highest Mass Market Brand for Fifth Consecutive Year in J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study

  • Kia’s reported problem levels improved by two points over last year to secure the top spot over all non-luxury automakers and second among all brands, luxury and non-luxury
  • Four Kia models included among the top 10 vehicles in the industry, the most of any brand
  • The Rio subcompact, Forte compact, Sportage SUV and Sedona minivan each topped their respective segments

For the fifth consecutive year, Kia was named the number one non-luxury automotive brand today by J.D. Power in the 2019 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), with a reported 70 problems per 100 vehicles, a two-point improvement over last year’s results. Kia’s continued success in IQS was led by having four models – Rio, Forte, Sportage and Soul — included among the top 10 vehicles in the industry, the most of any brand. In addition, Kia had segment-topping performances from Rio (Small Car), Forte (Compact Car), Sportage (Small SUV) and Sedona (Minivan).

“Being ranked at the top of J.D. Power’s U.S. Initial Quality Study among all mass market brands once is a tremendous honor, but capturing this leadership position for five consecutive years unequivocally affirms Kia’s commitment to quality and the ownership experience,” said Michael Cole, chief operating officer and EVP, Kia Motors America. “With four segment winners – and three additional models ranking among the top three in their respective segments – Kia’s ‘Give It Everything’ brand philosophy has clearly yielded a world-class model lineup.”

The annual report analyzed responses from 76,256 respondents with regards to 257 vehicle models across 26 segments. Vehicles were evaluated on driving experience, engine and transmission performance and a broad range of quality issues reported by vehicle owners.


On Alberta’s Icefields Parkway, the Kia Telluride stands out from bevy of big SUVs

The last time I drove through the Rockies with my mom, it was 1984, and we were sardined into my grandpa’s Buick Century with my grandparents, my dad and my six-year-old brother.

We drove from Edmonton to Vancouver in July. Without air conditioning. There was squabbling.

“That was terrible – this is definitely a much better trip than that one,” said my mom, Rose, as we drove a 2020 Kia Telluride along the Ice Fields Parkway from Jasper to Lake Louise. “You guys would probably still have fought in this, but the rest of us would have been more comfortable.”

To test the three-row SUV, Kia asked journalists to bring along a family member – the Telluride’s tag line is “built for the modern family“ – for a 750-km-plus drive from Edmonton to Jasper, along the parkway to Lake Louise and then to Calgary.

Since that scarring eighties trip, minivans surged in popularity for a while (my mom went on to a series of them until switching from a Honda Odyssey to an easier-to-handle RAV4) but now we’re seeing the rise of the big three-row SUV. Companies that weren’t typically known for family haulers, such as BMW, Subaru and Volkswagen, have all been going bigger and bigger.

“A lot of people buy a large vehicle like this for the premium aspect – as a status symbol – but the Telluride is more specifically targeted to families,” said Marc Keller, the Telluride’s product planner.

The Telluride is equipped with knobs for climate control and navigation and a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen.

So, Kia’s marketing focuses on space – 20 centimetres longer than Kia’s Sorrento, the Telluride seats eight (seven with the second-row captain’s seats in the top SX Limited trim), can fit three child seats and has more cargo space (601 litres) with the third-row seats up than its main competitors (the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer). It also focuses on anti-squabbling tech features such as seven USB ports, ceiling-mounted rear-seat climate controls to keep kids from reaching the buttons and a one-way intercom to the third seat (“Mom and dad can stay focused on the road while screaming to the kids not to touch each other,” Keller said).

“The role of the Telluride in the lineup is to be ‘not a minivan,’” said Robert Karwel, senior manager of the Power Information Network at J.D. Power Canada. “It allows Kia to keep people in the fold instead of having them cross-shop another brand because they believe other vehicles offer more size, space and flexibility.”

Kia initially hoped to sell 2,000 Tellurides in the first year, but in the first three weeks, they’ve already sold 438.

Unlike that crowded eighties trip, this time it was mostly only the two of us – we drove with another journalist from Edmonton to Jasper. We briefly considered finding four more people to replicate the experience. But even just with two, the Telluride didn’t feel like too much vehicle, unlike some bigger SUVs.

“I’m surprised. I was worried about driving this, but it doesn’t feel big like my van did,” said my mom, 72, who took a quick turn at the wheel. “We could have used something like this years ago. But, for that trip, we probably should have just flown.”

Tech specs

  • Price/as tested: $44,995-$53,995/ $49,995)
  • Engine: 3.8-litre Atkinson-cycle V-6
  • Transmission/Drive: Eight-speed automatic/all-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.5 city/9.6 highway
  • Alternatives: Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorrento, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas


The 2020 Kia Telluride might not turn heads, but some features make it stand out from a large pack of big SUVs.

It’s boxy and rugged – more truck-like, especially from the front and back, than other Kias – but it’s still classy. It might not turn heads, but subtle details, such as the chrome that creeps up the side of the B-pillar and the orange daytime running lights, helped it stand out a little from the bevy of big SUVs on Alberta roads.


On winding mountain roads, the Telluride was perfectly fine – and that’s a compliment. It drives more like a car than some big SUVs. Handling was sharp for a three-row vehicle. The 291-horsepower V-6 – there are no plans to add the Stinger’s twin-turbo V-6, although Kia said anything is possible – didn’t wow with breakneck acceleration, but it delivered plenty of power for passing. The ride was comfortable, but not too cushy. It tows 5,000 pounds. Thanks to the Atkinson-cycle engine, highway fuel economy is slightly better than Kia’s smaller Sorrento, but it’s still similar to its main rivals. Mazda’s less roomy CX-9 is more fun to drive.


It’s tough to find much to complain about inside. It’s not dripping with luxury and doesn’t wow with style, but it still feels like a pricier vehicle. Controls are simple and intuitive. There are knobs for climate control and navigation and a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen. A minor gripe? The labels on a strip of controls for the infotainment system are tough to see, but you’ll probably just be using the touchscreen. The back doors open wide for easy access. There’s plenty of room in the second row, and the third row is comfortable for two real-sized adults. Access to the third row is easy with push buttons at both the top and bottom of the seat on each side.


The well-equipped base Telluride EX ($44,995) comes standard with navigation, CarPlay and Android Auto and the full gamut of safety tech. The $49,995 SX adds a monitor next to the speedometer that shows your blind spot when you signal to turn. Another feature locks the child locks if you’re trying to get out of the rear and a vehicle is coming. And there’s plenty of other tech to play with. That one-way intercom (some others, like Honda, offer something similar) sounds a little echoey in the third row. And, you have to turn it on from the touch screen, which could be distracting while driving. Another feature lets you mute just the second- and third-row rear speakers if the kids fall asleep. The top trim, the $53,995 SX premium, adds a heads-up display.


The Telluride has plenty of room in the second row, and the third row is comfortable for two adults.

With the third row up, we fit in three carry-on-sized bags. With seats down, it’s similar to key competitors. The seats fold down easily.

The verdict: 8.

The Telluride has enough room, standard features and anti-squabbling tech to help minimize the chances of family feuds on most trips, whether they’re trips to Costco or to Colorado. Overall, you get plenty of bang for your buck – but there’s no turbo.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.


Kia Niro EV Comes With No Excuses: It’s The Most Important New EV

There are no more excuses as to whether or not to buy the Niro EV, but does Kia have excuses for low production?

Tony Schaefer from What Drives Us recently test drove the Kia Niro EV (e-Niro) over a week and considers the South Korean EV the most important new electric car on the market.

On one side, it’s unremarkable, there is nothing really exceptional or extraordinary – he explains – you just drive it, easy, intuitive, but it’s all-electric. It’s a full-size car and a 5-seater with decent cargo space and long range.

The Niro EV turns out to be able to go further on a charge than 235 miles (378 km) (EPA), as gentle non-winter range could be 270-290 miles (434-467 km)!

Combined with rich equipment, there are really no excuses to not buy the Kia Niro EV. Well, the first 40 were already delivered in the U.S. in April and now the ball is on Kia’s side, as we are wondering if the automaker has the production capacity to meet what’s sure to be high demand.

The cool features noted in the review include a tire pressure indicator for each individual tire, heated and ventilated seats, sun visor that expands, useful cup holder/storage compartment, Lane Keep Assist and a rewind satellite radio feature to listen to a particular song from the beginning.



Kia, Jaguar Take Home 2019 Canadian Car of the Year Trophies

Nearly 70 members cast more than 1,500 ballots on 55 entries that included last year’s category winners and this year’s new or significantly updated vehicles.

One of the most prestigious auto awards of the year was given out this morning at the Canadian International Auto Show. AJAC’s Canadian Car and Utility of the Year trophies were given out to the Kia Stinger and the Jaguar I-Pace respectively.

Every year, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada presents its Canadian Car and Canadian Utility of the year awards. Nearly 70 members cast more than 1,500 ballots on 55 entries that included last year’s category winners and this year’s new or significantly updated vehicles. This year, voting included not just ballots cast at the annual TestFest gathering of eligible vehicles, but for vehicles driven at home and on the road by journalists located from coast to coast.

The winners in each of this year’s 12 categories were announced last month at the Montreal Auto Show. From the 12 winners, there were three finalists for Canadian Car of the Year and three for Canadian Utility of the Year.

The three finalists for Canadian Car of the Year were the Kia Forte, Kia Stinger, and Volvo V90 R-Design. The winners of the small car, large car, and large premium car categories respectively. On the Utility side, which includes vans, trucks, SUVs, and crossovers, the finalists were the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-5, and Jaguar I-Pace EV for small utility, mid-size utility, and premium EV categories. It was the first time for a full EV to be a finalist for the awards.

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The winner of the 2019 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year award was the Kia Stinger. Kia’s sports sedan took high marks for styling and interior amenities, but also for performance scores like throttle response, engine refinement, and steering and handling.

Michael Kopke, Director of Marketing, KIA Canada accepted the award and said that “this is really exciting for us. We’re celebrating 20 years in Canada… To have Stinger, the halo of our brand to be recognized by the journalists here is a real honour.”

On the utility side, the winner of 2019 AJAC’s Canadian Utility of the Year Award was the Jaguar I-Pace. The all-electric crossover won big points for styling in class voting, but also for the response and performance of its electric powertrain and the ride and handling balance it offered.

The next stage in the awards are the trophies presented to the Best Green Car and Best Green Utility which will be awarded at the Vancouver Auto Show in March.



The Kia Stinger is Canada’s 2019 Car of the Year, according to the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC)

  • Kia Stinger qualified for the award after being named AJAC’s Best Large Car in Canada for 2019
  • Kia Forte also qualified for the award after being named AJAC’s Best Small Car in Canada for 2019

TORONTO, Feb. 14, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today at the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) in Toronto, the Kia Stinger has been named AJAC’s 2019 Canadian Car of the Year, after being named Best Large Car earlier this year. A grand touring sedan loaded with safety and convenience technologies, the Kia Stinger has found a special place in the heart and driveway of many Canadian drivers and is now even further recognized by many of Canada’s top automotive experts.

“Winning AJAC’s Car of the Year award for the Stinger is a great honour for everyone within the Kia family,” said Michael Kopke, Director of Marketing, Kia Canada. “As a young brand that has come a long way in 20 years here in Canada, we’re grateful to all of AJAC’s voting journalists for taking the time to review our vehicles and recognizing the quality that our brand has put so much focus on.”

For Kia, now celebrating its 20th year in Canada, this year’s AJAC awards demonstrate how far the brand has come in terms of quality, design and consumer-focused technologies and features.

“It’s a great achievement for a vehicle to win one of AJAC’s coveted Canadian Car of the Year awards, but it’s exceptional for the same automaker to make two award-winning vehicles in the same year,” said Mark Richardson, President, Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. “Congratulations to Kia for the well-deserved success of the Stinger and Forte.”

For Canadians that have not yet considered a Kia, the awards are another reason to look at the brand with the ‘Power to Surprise.’ Both vehicles will be on display at this year’s Canadian auto shows and are currently available in dealerships across the country.

More information on Canada’s Car of the Year, Canada’s Best Large Car and the entire Kia lineup can be found at

About the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC)
The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) is an association of professional journalists, writers, photographers, and corporate members whose focus is the automobile and the Canadian automotive industry. Collectively, our primary objectives are to promote, encourage, support, and facilitate professionalism in Canadian automotive journalism and to ensure factual and ethical reporting about the automobile and automotive issues to Canadian consumers. This is achieved through the work of our members and AJAC’s annual vehicle testing and evaluation events, the Canadian Car of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards (CCOTY and CUVOTY), Innovation Awards, and EcoRun.

About Kia Canada Inc.
Kia Canada Inc. (KCI), established in 1999 and celebrating 20 years in Canada, is a subsidiary of Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) based in Seoul, South Korea. Kia’s full line of award-winning vehicles offers world-class quality and customer satisfaction through a network of 193 dealers nationwide. The company employs 170 people in its Mississauga, Ontario headquarters, various locations across Canada and at its regional office in Montreal, Quebec. Kia’s brand slogan “The Power to Surprise” represents the company’s global commitment to surpassing customer expectations through continuous automotive innovation. From compact to crossover to industry leading EV’s, every Kia delivers an extraordinary combination of precision engineering, outstanding performance, innovative features, and advanced safety systems. Having sold close to one million vehicles, popular Canadian models include Soul, Forte, Sportage, Sorento and Stinger. To learn more about the Kia advantage,

For more information about Kia Canada and our products, please visit our Media Centre at or contact:

Mark James
Corporate Communications Manager
Kia Canada Inc.
T: 905-755-6251

Frederic Tremblay (Quebec Inquiries)
Directeur relations publiques et communications – Région de l’est
Kia Canada Inc.
T: 514-955-0505 x 2209

The Kia Stinger is one of the best cars I’ve driven all year — here’s how it matches up against its competition from BMW


  • The Kia Stinger combines style, value, and performance in an appealing, sporty four-door package.

  • We’ve driven the car three times in 2018 and have come away very impressed.

  • BMW might make be the ultimate driving machine, but the Kia Stinger matches up pretty well against the best Bimmer has to offer.

Kia has scored a notable victory with the Kia Stinger, a high-performance sedan from a brand better known for affordable four-doors and SUVs.

The Stinger was the toast of the auto-show circuit in 2017. I first sampled the all-wheel-drive GT2 version of the car in California in early 2018. This $52,000 machine, with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 making a tasty 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of yummy torque, completely captivated me as I drove around the Bay Area.

Later, I enjoyed the same car in the New York/New Jersey area and was equally impressed. So was my colleague, Ben Zhang, who took his first crack at the Stinger.

We haven’t yet tested the base four-cylinder trim, priced at $32,000. But I just finished enjoying the rear-wheel-drive GT2, which clocked in at about $50,000. Full review coming later, but suffice it say that as much as I was ga-ga over the AWD Stinger, first-impressions aren’t everything; the more classically configured RWD GT2 is THE ONE. I just wanted to drive it, and drive it, and then drive it some more, and then have dreams about driving it.

I’m not usually this thorough taken by a car, but the Stinger combines style, value, performance, and versatility is such a brilliant way that all bets are off. Particularly when you consider that you can get the marvelous V6 in basic GT package for an astounding $38,350.

Consequently, I’ve been doing all manner of running comparisons in my head. For my money, while the Stinger is overtly taking on the entire luxury performance-sedan segment — Audi, Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW — the aim is squarely at BMW. Bimmers provide the reference driving dynamics that the Stinger is seeking to emulate.

As it happens, I’ve driven a bunch of Bimmers. Here’s how the Stinger stacks up against as many as I can think of.

First, let me just refresh your impressions of the Stinger, in GT2 AWD trim.


Matthew DeBord/BI

“It’s an endlessly fun car, a literal joy to drive,” I wrote in my review.

“It fires up with a pleasing snarl (OK, an augmented one, but still) and growls cheerfully when pushed. It’s flat-out fast. The 0-60 time is supposed to be 4.7 seconds, but I thought it was notably quicker than that. And you have to watch yourself at cruising velocities, as the Stinger taps out the legal speed limit in a hurry, but do so with such poise and relative quiet that one can easily overlook the speedometer.”

The rear-wheel-drive car is cheaper and more fun. Stomping in the throttle and feeling that back end dig in is motoring bliss. Obviously, the RWD setup means that you’ll have an easier time testing the limits in the grip on those back tires, if that’s your thing.


How about the BMW M3?

Matthew DeBord/BI

Matthew DeBord/BI

The BMW M3 also has a six-banger under the hood, plus a pair of turbos. But this motor yields 425 horsepower to the Stinger’s 365 hp.

The M3 is also a more aggressive looking car.

But the M3 also starts at almost $68,000.

And what of the M4 convertible?

Matthew DeBord/BI

Matthew DeBord/BI

I checked out the convertible version, which offers two doors rather than the M3’s four but packs the same power under the hood: 425 horses.

Again, the Stinger loses on oomph — but then there’s the price difference: the M4 is a $70,000 car.

Additionally, the M4 drives like a German muscle car. The Stinger is sportier.


And what say you of the M2?

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The mighty little Bimmer coupé is close with the Stinger on the specs, boasting a 365-horsepower, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo’s inline six-cylinder engine.

It gives up two doors, but it’s in the Stinger’s price ballpark, at about $55,000.

What you’re getting here is one of the most fun BMWs to drive. But the package is smaller than the Stinger’s. Otherwise, serious competition.

How about the tweener M-car — the M240i convertible?

Matthew DeBord/BI

Matthew DeBord/BI

I’ve actually sampled both the coupé and convertible versions. What we have here is a 335-horsepower turbo six and a price tag of about $36,000.

For my money, this is the best BMW on the market, if you like to drive. However, the Stinger is more versatile, and the Kia’s V6 is more potent.


Moving away from the M-cars, how does the Stinger stack up against the 5-Series?

Hollis Johnson

Hollis Johnson

When we tested the 530i, we were perfectly OK with the 248-horsepower turbo four-cylinder engine. That 5-Series was crammed with tech and luxury and was priced at over $70,000, or $20,000 more than the base car.

The Stinger and the 5-Series aren’t really in the same segment, although I think the Stinger kind of sits between the 3-Series and the 5-Series thanks to a nice big trunk under the fastback hatch and a decent amount of rear legroom.

Obviously, you get a lot more motor for your money with the Stinger, even if you upgrade the BMW to a 335-horsepower 540i. Relatively speaking, you get less luxury. But the driving dynamics of the Stinger GT2’s are considerably more appealing.


And finally, how does the all-gas Stinger do when matched against the plug-in hybrid 3-Series?

2017 BMW 330e Bryan Logan/Business Insider

2017 BMW 330e Bryan Logan/Business Insider

We’ve generally been quite pleased with the BMW 330e; I drove it on the East Coast and BI’s Bryan Logan sampled it on the west.

It’s more of a BMW for the environmentally conscious buyer, however. It’s a pleasure to drive, but it doesn’t thrill like the Stinger, which obviously can’t be plugged in. And it can be had for less than $50,000.

Minus the blast-to-drive aspects, a key difference between the Stinger and it BMW competition is that the Kia is much easier to deal with as far as instruments and entertainment go. BMW’s have this busy, cockpit-like vibe; and the infotainment system, iDrive, while much-improved over the years remains quite complicated.

The Kia, by contrast, has some of the most intuitive controls of any vehicle on the market, plus a touchscreen infotainment system that’s among the best in the industry.

So what’s the verdict?

Matthew DeBord/BI

Matthew DeBord/BI

Let’s review.

Stinger vs M3: Stinger wins on price, loses on power.

Stinger vs M4: See above.

Stinger vs. M2: Competitive! The M2 is a stunning Bimmer. But the Stinger has four doors.

Stinger vs. M240i: Stinger wins on power, but the M240i is a great value in BMWs. I’d take the Stinger, though.

Stinger vs. 5-Series: The 5-Series is a legend, but the Stinger is more fun to drive.

Stinger vs. 3-Series plug-in hybrid: Not a very good head-to-head because the Stinger is vastly more fun to drive. The Stinger’s instruments and infotainment are also better designed.

As the Stinger has made it way into automotive consciousness, it’s increasingly being thought of as occupying a unique niche: going up against the BMW 3-Series, but with a much friskier attitude and better pricing.

The closest thing to this idea is actually no longer with us: Pontiac, the General Motors brand that was killed after the financial crisis. In fact, late in Pontiac’s life, the brand sold a re-badged Australian Holden in the US, the G8 GT, that had a 361-horsepower V8 under the hood and matched up nicely against the Stinger.

Here’s the thing, though. If you want exhilarating performance at a compelling price, with a premium if not luxurious interior and excellent versatility, the segment-of-one Stinger is an excellent BMW alternative.

Do I think BMW will lose sales to Kia? Maybe a few on the margins. Bimmer doesn’t have much to worry about. But there’s no question that the smart money is going to take a closer look at the Stinger.

2019 Kia K900 First Review

Source: Kelley Blue Book
Date: April 26th, 2018
Author: Rebecca Lindland

The first Kia K900 flagship large luxury sedan debuted in 2012 to a lukewarm reception, with consumers shying away from a $50,000-plus Kia. But Kia is good at self-examination and learns from feedback and critiques. So, they’re back at it, with a fully redesigned version of their flagship, the 2019 Kia K900, following on the heels of the highly-acclaimed 2018 Kia Stinger.

I had the opportunity to put the redesigned K900 to the test, driving through the city streets and countryside of Seoul, South Korea. The K900 (known locally as the K9) makes a large statement, coming in at 201.6 inches long, about 3 inches shorter than the Cadillac CT6 and 7 inches longer than the BMW 5-Series. Kia calls the new exterior design language “The Gravity of Prestige.” A collaborative effort by Kia’s global design headquarters in Namyang, Korea and Irvine, California, the new K900 sedan features organic lines with precise details.

My snow-white pearl test car sparkled in the Korean sunlight, cascading over the lines of the K900 even as the day time running lights of the bi-level headlamps winked in the brightness. The proportions of the vehicle cut a dashing profile, reflecting the rear-wheel-drive foundation of the all-new platform, with tires pushed to the edges and the overhangs kept to a minimum. The front is a bit busy for my taste and I fear it won’t age well, but the rear is elegant, with modern tail lamps topped off with dual chrome exhausts.

Luxe interior
Opening the door to the K900, your attention is captured by the high-end interior materials: Nappa premium leather, matte open-pore wood for added durability, touches of bright and matte chrome. The instrument panel is clean and inviting, anchored by an analog clock in the center designed by Swiss luxury watchmaker Maurice Lacroix exclusively for the new K900.

Settling into the contoured seat and using the 20-way power-adjustment to personalize my driving position, I also enjoyed the optional seat ventilation. The ergonomics of the cabin are intuitive and modern, with a layout that highlights the driver and welcomes the passenger. My phone is easy to connect and tucks neatly away in the center console.

The comfort isn’t confined to the front seats, though. The fully adjustable rear seats, in true Korean style, provides enough legroom for the tallest percentile without compromising the front seat occupants. The trunk is equally spacious, fitting an oversized hard-sided suitcase plus two bloated carry-ons comfortably, with a pass-through for long, skinny items like skis.

V6 and all-wheel drive
As suitable for today’s luxury sedan market, the 2019 K900 comes equipped with all-wheel-drive (AWD) with dynamic torque vectoring control for improved handling, stability and agility in every type of weather condition.

Kia pairs the AWD with a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 also available on the award-winning Kia Stinger sports sedan. This engine received a ton of well-deserved positive reviews and is another fine example of Kia’s ongoing evolution. The 365 horses–30 more than the BMW 5-Series and Cadillac CT6–provide exhilarating turbo power with no hesitation and the 8-speed gearbox transitions through its paces seamlessly as I accelerate onto a 4-lane highway. The V8 offered on the previous generation K900 has been dropped in the U.S. market.

Pulling out onto the busy streets of Seoul, the K900’s navigation kicks in, providing precise directions including specific lanes I need to be in to complete the next task. The K900 is also equipped with multiple driver assistance systems (ADAS), including the Surround View Monitor, which utilizes four cameras to provide a 360-degree top-down view of the car and its surroundings, while turn-signal activated blind-spot monitoring keeps an eye on adjacent lanes and shows up in the instrument panel.

Haptic feedback where the steering wheel vibrates is also available, further enhancing the driver’s visual cues to unsafe lane changes. The high-resolution video of the blind-spot monitoring is a bit distracting in the instrument cluster, but that’s a personal preference, and I found myself adapting quickly enough.

Quiet ride
Once at full highway speed, the extra attention to insulation Kia paid in this redesigned K900 is well represented, providing a level of quiet seen in far more expensive vehicles. There is no hint of road noise nor vibration. I’m taken with the peace, calm, and coziness of the cabin.

The suburban streets wind through neighborhoods and the K900 sedan hugs the road, the AWD and suspension handling the curves and many, many speed bumps with aplomb, barely missing a beat even as I fail to slow for some. The bumps act as a surrogate for the poor conditions of many roads in the U.S. and once stateside, Kia’s new sedan will be a formidable match for the potholed domestic landscape.

The 2019 Kia K900 offers ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ AWD driving modes, with the former providing an efficient driving experience while the latter is more engaging. I kept the new K900 in “normal” mode for the duration of the drive as the roads were not particularly conducive to “sport.” Other journalists who did venture into sport had mixed reviews–some felt minimal difference, others felt a lot.

The vehicles we drove are Korean-spec, so there’s still time for some fine-tuning, like a tighter “normal” mode set up when the K900 debuts in the states later this year and a distinctive difference for “Sport” similar to that found in vehicles such the BMW 5-Series.

Overall, the new Kia K900 is a fine representation of Korean luxury. There are plenty of emotional solutions the well-equipped car provides, from the elegant interior to the spacious cabin and the standard AWD. It’s a fine selection for someone considering a luxury sedan or even a crossover. The all-wheel drive of the K900 provides reassurance while the plentiful list of standard equipment speaks to Kia’s history of providing excellent value for the money.

Some key competitors for the K900 include the all-wheel drive versions of the BMW 5-Series, the Audi A6, and the Cadillac CT6. While the Kia brand may not immediately elicit oohs and aahs from the country club set, the appealing looks, lovely, relaxing interior, and driving performance certainly will. The 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty–significantly higher than key competitors–provides further assurance over the long haul.

Kia hasn’t announced pricing, but the current K900 goes for about $55,000 so you can expect the same for the all-new K900 when it goes on sale later this year.

2018 Kia Cadenza

Source: Car and Driver
Date: March 24th, 2018


2018 Kia Cadenza

Quietly exceeding expectations of label snobs everywhere.

Overall Rating: 

Kia’s Cadenza is a compelling choice in a shrinking segment. For those who prefer sedans to SUVs, it not only represents a solid value but also provides near-luxury features throughout its model range. Inside its well-built cabin is room for four adults to stretch out in comfort, and the luxe features only get better the further up its range you climb. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features, and highly sought-after active safety tech—automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and more—is provided as standard on the midrange Technology trim and the top-spec Limited. That the Cadenza wears a handsome and upscale design is icing on the automotive cake.

Intuitive infotainment system, technology-heavy equipment list, generous warranty.
Tepid acceleration, lackluster braking performance, limited cargo flexibility.
The Cadenza is a high-tech haven for the upper-middle-class sedan buyer.

What’s New for 2018?

Kia saw fit to make just one change to the Cadenza lineup for 2018: Last year’s Panoramic Sunroof package (a large glass sunroof, power sunshade, and LED interior lighting) is now part of the Luxury package on the base Premium trim instead of being a separate $1000 option. The big glass roof is still standard on Technology and Limited trims.

What Was New for 2017?

The Cadenza was all new for 2017, marking Kia’s sophomore effort for a full-size near-luxury car. Completely redesigned from bumper to bumper, the sharper Cadenza features a sleeker interior and modern technologies such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an available head-up display. The 3.3-liter V-6 engine was retuned for better fuel economy and paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. For the first time, the Cadenza offers a full suite of active safety technology.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

We chose the midrange Technology trim last year, and we’d hold steady on that recommendation for 2018 as well. This year’s build is priced at $40,190 and calls up many modern and luxury items that attract buyers in this segment, including:

• Panoramic sunroof
• 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation
• 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio
• Proximity approach lighting

All of the Cadenza’s active safety technologies also come as standard on this midrange trim and on the top-spec Limited model.