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North American Utility of the Year: Kia Telluride
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North American Utility of the Year

North American Utility of the Year: Kia Telluride

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It’s been a long time coming — Kia’s jump into the the competitive full-size sport-utility category. Founded in 1944, Kia has worked long and hard to capture the heart of American car buyers with affordable and dependable vehicles.

The North American Car of the Year jury comprising 60 automotive journalists and Motor Trend acknowledged its arrival by naming the Kia Telluride as the 2020 Utility Vehicle of the Year.

“This is Kia’s first attempt at the full-size three-row SUV market,” said Kirk Epps, general manager of Bosak Kia in Burns Harbor. “The design has captured the eye of SUV buyers across age and gender groups. We weren’t all that surprised that the Telluride won awards because we knew what we had and how good it really is.”

Manufactured in West Point, Ga., the Telluride offers what SUV drivers want: A comfortable and roomy three rows of seating. The accolades signal Telluride is second to none in terms of style, dynamics, refinement, and quality.

The Telluride adds lavish levels of standard equipment even in the $32,785 base model. Loaded, it tops out at just under $47,000.

The interior combines good looks with utility. Adults  fit in the third row. Well-positioned seat-fold buttons and grab handles make it easy to get in and out of that row. The second and third rows also get USB ports to keep all the family's devices up and running. 

“Some of the Telluride’s competition costs twice as much," Epps said. "The fit and finish are superb, the materials are excellent, and the color mixture is wonderful."

The Telluride offers a 3.8-liter,  291-horsepower V-6 with an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive optional. The V-6 delivers 262 lb.-ft. of torque for a quick sprint off the line. The Telluride also comfortably punches above its price point in terms of ride, refinement, and quiet ride.

At 100 mph on test tracks, test drivers found the ride smooth with taut steering and handling. Still Telluride is EPA rated at 20 mpg city/26 highway. 

“The Telluride meets both the needs and wants for SUV drivers,” Epps said. “Now, you don’t have to make sacrifices to get the vehicle you need and the options and affordability you want. Kia nailed it.”

Runner-ups in the SUV category were the Hyundai Palisade and the Lincoln Aviator.

“The 2020 Palisade is Hyundai's best and biggest SUV,” said Jim Logmann, sales manager at Nielsen Hyundai in Michigan City. “The interior is big and roomy, with the third row getting equal space as the first two.”

The Palisade's ride and premium interior appointments reach the edge of luxury. All three rows are spacious, and the standard model comes with loads of safety and driver-assist technology.

The high-end Palisade Limited includes just about every bell and whistle: Napa leather seating surfaces, a faux-suede headliner, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and a vast amount of safety and driver-assist systems among them. 

Palisade is powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. Horsepower clocks in at 291 and torque at 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is an option on all trim levels. All Palisades come standard with a robust transmission cooler and trailer pre-wiring and sway control, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the dealer-installed trailer hitch.

The all-new 2020 Aviator solidifies Lincoln's return to the vanguard of American luxury. Aviator's presence and style are backed up by twin-turbo V-6 engine and a laundry list of tech features. With three rows of seating and an emphasis on cargo capacity, front-seat occupants can be treated to options such as 30-way massaging seats and a 28-speaker audio system.

The Aviator is convincingly upscale thanks to its unique sheet metal and interior, sophisticated chassis hardware, and lively standard engine. Standard equipment on the Reserve model includes four-zone climate control, a 360-degree camera system, and a 14-speaker sound system. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

The refined 3-liter V-6 works with a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission to deliver both comfortable cruising and impressive acceleration for 0-to-60 in 5 seconds.

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