Two weeks of living with two trims of Kia’s latest Seltos, and it’s now easy for me to understand why this little crossover has become such a popular option in the subcompact SUV segment. The Seltos…

2021 Kia Seltos EX and SX Road Test

2021 Kia Seltos EX
Kia’s Seltos, looking good here in mid-range EX trim, is one of the best-selling crossovers in its subcompact SUV class.

Two weeks of living with two trims of Kia’s latest Seltos, and it’s now easy for me to understand why this little crossover has become such a popular option in the subcompact SUV segment.

The Seltos came out of nowhere in 2020, only to rise up to fourth overall in a category with no less than 22 offerings last year (it’s grown to 25 since). This just might be unprecedented success, and is especially impressive when considering that Kia already offers the eighth-placed Soul and 18th most popular Niro. The Soul, incidentally, is available in regular internal combustion or electric variants, whereas the Niro comes with conventional, plug-in hybrid, or EV powertrains. The Seltos is only gasoline-powered so far, which says a lot about our current purchasing habits when contrasted against the direction our various governments and many special interest groups are pointing us in, although hybrid and/or EV powertrains will likely follow thanks to shared architecture with the Hyundai Kona Electric.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
Stylish and nearly identical from front to back in EX to SX (shown) trims, It’s easy to see why this Kia has quickly become so popular.

Hyundai-Kia’s B-SUV platform (that’s formed off the back of the Rio’s K2 platform) is a major Seltos positive, as the Kona, in regular or EV form, a good SUV to share underpinnings with considering its number-one position in segment sales, with a lead of nearly one-third over the next-most-popular Subaru Crosstrek.

The Canadian numbers were 31,733 to 22,161 units in 2020, while the third-place Nissan Kicks managed 14,149 deliveries, and fourth-place Seltos came close to achieving podium placement with 13,016 sold examples of its own. It skipped right by some category diehards too, such as Honda’s (somewhat long-in-tooth) HR-V that was only able to pull in 12,068 sales, Nissan’s Qashqai at 11,074 units, Hyundai’s Venue with 10,740 deliveries, and the Soul with 9,869. The rest are all in the four figures, some like Jeep’s Renegade and Fiat’s 500X (basically the same SUV under very different skins) only capable of finding 362 and 35 respective buyers apiece.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
Even the Seltos base headlamps look good, and feature automatic high-beams in EX trim.

To be clear, the subcompact crossover SUV segment is really split up into two parts, with the Seltos slightly larger than some of those just mentioned, particularly Nissan’s Kicks and Hyundai’s Venue. While most expect something smaller to arrive in Kia’s lineup soon, along the lines of the truly subcompact Venue, the $21,295 Soul claims that spot for now, despite being almost identical to the Seltos in cabin size and cargo capacity. Your reasons for choosing either will come down to personal styling preferences, plus the $23,395 Seltos’ more modern dash layout, how the two drive (electrically-enhanced included), and possibly the need to save a couple of thousand for a non-EV Soul, whereas the significantly smaller Venue is better suited to four occupants and much less gear, albeit for considerably less initial money (with a base of $18,199) and better ongoing fuel economy (I covered the 2021 Venue here).

2021 Kia Seltos SX
A move up to the SX includes these sophisticated looking and much brighter full-LED headlights.

It might also be helpful to understand some of the industry trends, and particularly how Hyundai and Kia fit in with respect to this. The macro trend sees car buyers migrating to crossover SUVs, and to that end Hyundai now uses its Venue as the most affordable gateway into its brand, having discontinued its subcompact Accent 5 Door hatchback after the 2020 model year (and Accent sedan before that). Kia, on the other hand, still sells its Rio 5 Door, having only dropped the four-door sedan version of this car after 2020, and by so doing makes sure that its conquest pathway is much more affordable. Where Hyundai is now asking $3,250 more for a Venue than it was for an Accent, Kia is able to pull in buyers with budgets of $17,295 (which admittedly is much pricier than the previous $15,495 2020 Rio 5-Door or even more affordable $14,845 2019 Rio sedan—notably the 2020 Rio sedan wasn’t available in cheaper LX trim at all, causing that year’s base LX+ sedan to start at $18,045), and a 5- to 10-percent difference is a lot when on a tight budget.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
The EX includes fog lamps and an attractive set of grey-painted 17-inch alloys.

Comparatively to either the Rio or Venue, the Seltos might seem like a luxury SUV. First off, it appears more upscale from the outside than either, with a sportier character than the cute, albeit somewhat awkward looking Hyundai; the Venue’s big grille on a small SUV styling won’t be for everyone. The Seltos’ lines are comparatively clean, uncluttered, and, to my eyes at least, attractive, starting with a wide, relatively narrow front grille opening, and expanding outward via stepped headlamp clusters, which include a set of unique-looking LEDs in top-level trims. A tight, tidy rear design incorporates a good helping of metal brightwork and optional LED tail lamps, while attractive 16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels can be found across the entire line.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
Some brighter metal-like detailing graces the SX model’s front fascia, while its 18-inch alloys really pop.

Specifically, the 16-inch alloys are only included with the base Seltos SX FWD model, meaning the move up to SX AWD pushes wheel-size out another inch. All other trims include standard AWD, while the wheels remain 17 inches in diameter right up to the SX Turbo, that gets gorgeous machine-finished 18s with cool red-accented centre caps, although the mid-range EX Premium (one step above the EX) includes a sharp set of machine-finished 17-inch rims.

The two models I tested over a back-to-back two-week stint included EX and SX trims, the former featuring the more fuel-economy-oriented Atkinson-cycle enhanced 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, while mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The latter, on the other hand, came standard with the brand’s 1.6-litre direct-injection Turbo, resulting in a more spirited 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, plus a much quicker shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. These two very unique trims gave me a good feel for what Kia has on offer across the entire Seltos range.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
Both EX and SX trims feature standard LED taillights.

The lesser EX model is seen here in Neptune Blue, with its 17-inch grey-painted twinned five-spoke alloys, whereas the top-line SX Turbo wears Lunar Orange, along with the sportier 18-inch rims I mentioned a moment ago. Both are premium paints that incur a reasonable $250 upcharge, this being the same for all eight colour options except base Onyx black.

Rather than pore over feature details, all of which you can look up for yourself on the automaker’s retail website, I’ll cover some of those items I particularly appreciated and/or found lacking in my test models, plus share my experiential notes, continuing from previous exterior styling comments over to thoughts about the interior, especially its more conventional hooded instrument panel layout and tablet-style infotainment display than the more premium Mercedes-like dual-screen setup found in the recently updated mid-size Sorento and upcoming (slightly larger than its predecessor) compact 2023 Sportage (which looks similar to what I’ve already tested in the 2022 Hyundai Tucson).

2021 Kia Seltos SX
It might be missing soft-touch door uppers, but the top-line Seltos SX delivers some premium materials and features inside.

The more futuristic dash design appears to be the way Kia is going, having even updated its various looks and functionality since the fabulous Telluride that I covered a few months ago. Instead, the Seltos’ dash layout appears more like the Niro’s and other older models. It’s highly utile, with a nicely shrouded hood shading dual analogue dials bookending a 3.5-inch, colour multi-information display in the EX, and larger, more versatile 7.0-inch Supervision LCD/TFT display in the SX. The former provides visual indication that the automatic high beams are active, something I really appreciated, plus dynamic cruise control info, while latter does both and much more.

Still, after experiencing Kia’s newer design layout in other models, I the current iteration comes across a tad dated, despite being complemented by a very helpful head-up display (HUD) system that projects key info onto the windshield ahead of the driver, something not seen too often in this class. For reference, I find the same when comparing a similarly-sized Mercedes GLB to anything in its class, not that the German and Korean models should be compared in any other way, especially when it comes to pricing.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
Both EX and SX trims offer nicely organized and comfortable driving positions.

The Seltos does provide a very refined interior for the subcompact SUV class, however, with my EX-tester even including the same perforated Sofino faux-leather seat upholstery as my top-tier SX Turbo, which I initially thought was the real deal. The EX didn’t include the SX’ powered driver’s seat, mind you, or its two-way powered lumbar support, but was comfortable nonetheless, as were the two crossovers’ shared leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, although the EX model’s gloss-black dash facing wasn’t quite as upscale as the SX trim’s padded and stitched leatherette bolster, which even extends under the larger centre display as well as to the left side of the primary gauge binnacle and steering column—good to see you get something for the extra coin.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
EX trim comes standard with fairly conventional analogue primary gauges bordering a 3.5-inch multi-information display.

There are more upgrades, of course, despite EX and SX models sharing the just-noted gloss-black trim on the steering wheel spokes, lower centre console surfacing, and door inlays, as well as identical single-zone automatic climate control interfaces, solar glass front windows, and chromed grille insert, satin chrome beltline trim, and aforementioned LED taillights (that transition from incandescent bulbs in EX trim), not to mention unseen but important (to some) features like Blind-spot Collision Avoidance Assist (in place of the base model’s Blind-spot Collision Warning), Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (in place of the LX’ simpler Rear Cross-traffic Alert), as well as a raft of features pulled up from base LX trim.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
The SX features a larger 7.0-inch driver display, enhancing the entire left side of the gauge cluster.

These latter items include a Safe Exit Assist System, Rear Occupant Alert, Hill-assist control, Downhill brake control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, six airbags, and more, which were enough to earn higher-end Seltos trims Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS (albeit not “+” status, only achieved in this class by Chevy’s similarly-sized Trailblazer, Ford’s new Bronco Sport, Subaru’s Crosstrek Hybrid, Mazda’s CX-30, plus the smaller Mazda CX-3). Of note, Buick’s Encore GX, Hyundai’s Venue and Kona, Kia’s Soul, Subaru’s regular Crosstrek, plus Toyota’s C-HR (as well as Kia’s larger Sportage, although it doesn’t compete in this segment) earned the same regular Top Safety Pick score, but notably Buick’s smaller Encore, Chevrolet’s Trax, Fiat’s 500XFord’s EcoSport, Jeep’s Renegade and Compass, Mini’s Countryman (although it’s more of a premium player), Mitsubishi’s RVR, plus Nissan’s Kicks and Qashqai (Rogue Sport in the U.S.) didn’t.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
Like base LX trim, the EX utilizes an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with nice graphics and plenty of features.

Somehow, I completely lost track of detailing the Seltos’ interior refinement, not even mentioning both models’ stylish satin silver trim that helped make me feel as if I was in a much more upscale SUV than its aforementioned pricing should allow, or for that matter its nicely stitched leatherette gearshift boot, softly padded leatherette side and centre armrests (front to back for the former and covering a handy storage bin for the latter), while the folding rear centre armrest, filled with the usual twin cupholders, is exclusive to EX and SX trims. Lacking, sadly, were soft-touch door uppers in either trim or row, the two models’ identical inner door skins leaving me somewhat disappointed due to Kia having spoiled me to expect more from entry-level models than other brands, which admittedly don’t necessarily upgrade their equivalent rides to such high levels of luxury either.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
EX Premium and SX trims boast a premium-like 10.25-inch centre display, which is really impressive for this class of SUV.

Some features that differentiate both the SX and EX Premium from the regular EX trim include the previously noted LED headlights and LED fog lamps, the upgraded instrument cluster, auto-dimming rearview mirror, multi-directional power-adjustable front seats and two-way powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat, plus three-way air-cooled front seats to go along with all lesser models’ three-way heatable front cushions, and the EX (and above) heated steering wheel rim, not to mention warming outboard rear positions for the EX Premium and SX models, as well as a larger and much improved 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen (instead of the 8.0-inch base display) with integrated navigation and UVO Intelligence-connected car services, along with Satellite radio, a wireless phone charger, adaptive cruise control with Highway Drive Assist (a Level 2 advanced semi-autonomous “self-driving” assistance system designed for limited-access highways), an electromechanical parking brake, Advanced forward collision-avoidance assist (improving on the EX trim’s Forward collision-avoidance assist), ambient mood lighting, a rear cargo privacy cover, and more.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
EX Premium and SX trims up the ante with navigation.

I should say more about the upgraded infotainment touchscreen, plus the smaller one found in the EX and below, specifically that both are very good and include Apple CarPlay, plus Android Auto smartphone integration. My somewhat outdated Samsung S9 hooked up to the latter easily and working flawlessly throughout both test weeks, whereas the SX’ exclusive navigation system was also easy to use and completely accurate. The general look of the displays should be attractive to most, while both backup cameras were bright, clear and included moving guidelines.

A powered glass sunroof hovered above front occupants in both models, with controls found on an attractive overhead console, this even including LED reading laps complemented by another set of LED overhead lights in back.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
The base powertrain’s CVT is sportier than you might think, but it’s best for those wanting to optimize fuel economy.

Aforementioned wheel upgrades and HUD aside, the SX gains exclusive chromed door handles, rain sensing wipers, bright metal interior door handles, and possibly best of all, an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system that includes four door-mounted speakers, a centre speaker, two door-mounted tweeters, and a separate subwoofer, all of which are powered by an external amp. The sound was very good for the class, and thanks to the satellite radio upgrade mentioned earlier, was capable of being tested via many music genres.

As noted earlier, both trims’ driver seats were comfortable, with an edge to the SX due to its adjustable lumbar, while the Seltos’ driving position is excellent, even for my long-legged, short-torso frame. The tilt and telescopic steering column had enough rearward reach to provide comfort with more than enough control, and I certainly had ample space in all directions for movement.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
EX trim and above include convincing faux perforated leather, but EX Premium and SX trims get three-way cooling plus powered lumbar.

Likewise, in the back, where both trims’ seats were comfortable, and plenty of legroom, head space and side-to-side roominess could be found. Cargo capacity is good for the class too, with 752 dedicated litres (26.5 cubic feet), as well as 1,778 litres (62.8 cu ft) when both sides of its 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded (mostly) flat.

Back up in the driver’s seat, I won’t go so far as to say the Seltos EX was particularly quicker than its base competition off the line, but it felt sportier through the curves than most rivals. Even this lower powered model included a slick rotating drive mode selector next to the gear lever for choosing regular Normal mode, an auto-select Smart mode, and Sport mode capabilities, all of which provided unique characteristics that were easily definable. Of course, all of this was heightened when at the wheel of the more potent SX, especially transmission response, which reacted faster to inputs than almost anything else in the class.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
The Seltos offers a roomy rear seating area, plus seat warmers the outboard positions for EX Premium and SX trims.

This is where your personal priorities will be exposed, aforementioned upgrades aside, because the two SUVs offer very different driving experiences. I found myself more relaxed in the EX, or at least I was less likely to dig my right foot into the throttle, because the result was less rewarding. Certainly, it got up and went with little hesitation and progressed through the gears fast enough for some spirited driving, even spinning right up to its 6,500-rpm rev limiter before making surprisingly convincing “pseudo” shifts, but by nature a CVT focuses more on fuel-efficiency than rapid, satisfying acceleration. Nevertheless, Kia could differentiate these trims even further by including paddle-shifters with the SX… just saying.

The dual-clutch gearbox and more powerful turbocharged engine didn’t overly impact efficiency either, or at least the SX was stingy enough for me at 9.4 L/100km city, 7.9 highway and 8.7 combined, compared to 8.8 city, 7.6 highway and 8.2 combined with the EX (or LX AWD), or 8.2, 7.1 and 7.7 respectively for the LX FWD. All in all, the SX’ level of performance should make the move upmarket worthwhile those who can afford a little extra investment.

2021 Kia Seltos EX
The Seltos dedicated cargo area measures an impressive 752 litres.

As with everything else in this class, the various drive modes don’t impact the Seltos’ suspension setup, which, while fine for everyday driving, might hold you back a bit when pushing fast and hard through winding terrain, where the EX felt a bit more unsettled than the SX. This was probably, at least partially due to the difference in rolling rubber, the lesser model’s 215/55R17 Kumho Solus all-seasons not quite as grippy as the larger-diameter 235/45R18 Kumho Majesty tires (have to wonder where they came up with that name).

What matters more in this class, however, is ride quality, which was very good for both trims. In fact, I’d be quite happy with either as my daily driver. I found the previously noted self-driving mode was a bit more relaxing during highway excursions too, and I was pleasantly surprised to find anything so technologically advanced in this category at all, although it should be noted others in this segment are stepping up with similar systems.

2021 Kia Seltos SX
Cargo space opens up to 1,778 litres when the 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded down.

Still, it remains easy to understand why Kia’s Seltos is selling so well. It’s a great looking little crossover SUV, is well made, impressively finished, well-featured in every trim, attractively priced, plenty efficient, and even fairly fun to drive with its mid-range powertrain, plus downright fun when upgraded to the SX. Add to this its two-year, 40,000-km longer-than-average (mostly) bumper-to-bumper warranty, spanning five years or 100,000 km, and it’s an easier decision.

Truly, the most difficult choice in this class might come down to this Seltos or its Hyundai Kona cousin (with a similar warranty), proving the South Korean automaker understands the benefits of creating its own competition. When push comes to shove, both SUVs are more than worthy of your attention. I’d recommend looking over some of the others in this class too, but for the time being these are leading the back for good reason.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

Comparisons between Kia’s Telluride and Hyundai’s Palisade are starting to sound a lot like folks my age bantering about Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy preferences back in the ‘70s, with some liking…

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited Road Test

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Kia’s new Telluride is one great looking mid-size SUV, especially in its top-line SX Limited trim.

Comparisons between Kia’s Telluride and Hyundai’s Palisade are starting to sound a lot like folks my age bantering about Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy preferences back in the ‘70s, with some liking Chevy’s subtler grille design more than GMC’s bolder iteration, or vice versa. I hear this type of talk a lot in chats about the two South Korean SUVs, and more often than not the Telluride gets two thumbs up when it comes to styling.

To be clear, I talk more often to gents about such things than ladies, and we should all know by now how important a women’s decision is in the buying process, especially in the family-friendly three-row crossover category. This might have something to do with the Palisade outselling the Telluride by more than two to one in Canada last year, Hyundai’s numbers reaching 7,279 units compared to just 3,474 deliveries for Kia. The divide is narrowing for 2021, with Hyundai growing Palisade sales to 4,037 examples during the first two quarters, and Kia stepping up with 2,531 Telluride deliveries.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The Telluride’s profile is squarer and more upright than most competitors, which gives it a more traditional SUV look that many like.

Looking at these numbers, we can’t underestimate the power of the Hyundai brand in Canada, compared to Kia which got a much later start. While Hyundai arrived here in 1984, it only took two years to enter the U.S. market. Kia, on the other hand, didn’t travel north of the 49th until 1999, a full six years after a solid head start in the U.S. Kia has certainly been gaining ground over the past 20 years, but it’s always been a case of playing catchup in both markets.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Breaking up the blocky shape is a set of stylishly curving taillights.

Interestingly, despite only being on the market for a bit over two years, the Telluride is already outselling the Acadia, its three-row competitor from aforementioned GMC. To clarify how significant this is, the Acadia has been on the market since 2006, giving it a 13-year advantage, while 2021 saw a bolder new face thanks to a mid-cycle refresh. To be fair to the General, the second-generation Acadia is now in its fifth year of availability, although it should also be noted that the Telluride is currently on track to beat the newest Acadia’s best year of sales. As it is right now, Kia’s largest offering is outselling a whole host of similarly sized three-row rivals, from Nissan’s Pathfinder to Subaru’s Ascent.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited and 2021 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate
It’s easy to see the difference between the top-tier Telluride and my Hyundai Palisade Ultimate tester.

Like the two classic General Motors SUVs, the Telluride and Palisade are basically the same crossover with different styling details. Clearly this is nothing new in the industry, continuing today with the just-noted Acadia plus its Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave and Cadillac XT6 cousins, as well as Ford’s Explorer and its Lincoln Aviator partner, plus the previously mentioned Pathfinder and Infiniti’s QX60.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited and 2021 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate
The two SUV’s rear stying differences are subtler.

This said, the two Korean automakers took a different styling direction with the Telluride and Palisade than those just mentioned. They’re designs are more upright and squared off, making them appear more like traditional body-on-frame SUVs than sleek, car-like crossovers. This is even truer for the Telluride, which completes its chunky design with a rectangular front grille, squarish stacked LED headlamps, and a sharply angled lower front fascia, while its blocky side profile culminates in a similarly rectangular-shaped liftgate that’s bookended by two vertical taillights curving inward elegantly as they rise up from the rear bumper. It’s at once rugged and refined, providing a best of both worlds image that’s not unlike something from Range Rover, and just like that British icon the Telluride only gets better upon closer inspection.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
SX and SX Limited trims get a unique grille treatment.

Its side window trim, for instance, feels as if it’s made from highly polished billet nickel, similar in fact to Lexus’ application of its bright metal window dressing. Kia just calls it “satin chrome,” so it’s probably not made from nickel, but either way these are some of the nicest window surrounds in the industry.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
LED headlamps come standard across the Telluride line.

Inside, the A and B pillars are fabric-wrapped with the same high-quality woven material used for my SX Limited trim’s headliner, which itself is hollowed out from dual glass sunroofs, these including a regular moonroof up front and a large panoramic one in back. The look and feel of everything above the shoulders is premium, including the overhead console that houses switchgear to open the just-noted sunroofs and their powered fabric shades, plus the LED reading lights and buttons for activating the standard UVO Intelligence connected car services and emergency assistance system. A second overhead console can be found in between the two sunroofs, this one housing larger LED dome lights as well as controls for the automatic climate system’s third zone.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
These 20-inch alloys are standard with the SX and SX Limited.

Moving downward, the dash top is finished in a nice rubberized soft-touch synthetic, with what feels like real stitching, while the same pliable composite is used for the front and rear door uppers. Below these is the closest reproduction of matte finish hardwood I’ve ever seen, with a substantive density that really had me questioning whether it was real or not (I checked, it isn’t).

No shortage of satin silver trim brightens up much of the rest of the cabin, plus a reasonable amount of piano black lacquered plastic, although this inky surface treatment was only kept to the lower console. This, however, is strange, because the lower console is the most likely place to get scratched, so it would be much better for Kia to come up with a less scratch-prone surface treatment for this high-use area.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Two large sunroofs combine with anodized roof rails on both SX trims.

At least this central divider is bordered by stitched leatherette-wrapped grab handles for the driver and front passenger, these also housing switchgear for the three-way heated and ventilated front seats. The console itself is filled with a wireless charging pad, two USB-A ports and a 12-volt charger hidden below a pop-up door, while a leather-wrapped and skirted shift lever rests ahead of a purposeful looking metal-edged rotating Drive/Terrain mode selector, complete with Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart, Snow, Mud and Sand modes that are capable of tackling all sorts of driving situations, while a bunch of quick-access driving function buttons surround the electromechanical parking brake lever just behind.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
These boomerang taillights are infused with LEDs in SX Limited trim.

The rest of the Telluride’s instruments are well organized, with my SX Limited tester’s primary gauge cluster comprised of two conventional analogue dials surrounding temperature and fuel sub-dials, centered by a large comprehensive multi-information display in full colour. This MID’s most unique feature is the live projection of two rear-facing cameras that completely eliminate blind spots upon applying the turn signals. Honda and Acura have long offered a right-side camera that displays on the larger centre infotainment screen, but only in models that don’t include their lane-change warning system. Kia, on the other hand, provides both technologies simultaneously to make double sure the adjacent lane is clear from traffic. On top of this, literally, is a head-up display, exclusive to SX Limited trim.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The top-line Telluride SX Limited provides a truly upscale interior that could easily be compared to SUVs from premium brands.

The Telluride’s centre infotainment display is a touch-sensitive widescreen that’s wonderfully easy to use and filled with attractive graphics in a tile-style layout. You can swipe it back and forth for additional features, plus use smartphone and tablet-style pinch gestures for specific functions including the navigation map, which just happens to be the default selection on the menu’s left-side tile. Audio system info can be found on the menu’s centre tile, while Hyundai’s proprietary “Driver Talk” rear passenger communication system is set to the right, while owners can customize the tiles in system setup if this default assortment doesn’t suit their personal requirements, and believe me there’s a lot of options to choose from.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The Telluride’s well organized cockpit includes loads of features and an excellent driving position.

Infotainment features not yet mentioned include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a voice memo, driving info, media, and more, while just below the touchscreen is a row of satin-metallic finished quick access buttons for the navigation system’s map, route guidance setup, the radio, media functions like satellite radio and Bluetooth audio, seek and track functions, favourites, and vehicle setup. Just under this is a dual-zone automatic HVAC interface that includes some switchgear for the third rear zone, plus a button for the heatable steering wheel that would no doubt keep its leather-wrapped rim toasty warm in winter, but being that I tested this SUV mid-summer, the top of the wheel already felt as if it was on fire after being parked.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The upgraded gauge cluster’s 7.0-inch display includes live projection of two rear-facing cameras that completely eliminate blind spots upon applying the turn signals.

That steering wheel spokes are filled with high-quality satin-finish metal and piano black switchgear, some of which include knurled-metal rocker switches for performing functions like adjusting the audio volume to answering the phone, or applying the adaptive cruise control and using the multi-information display. Likewise, the door panel-mounted power window and mirror controls are made from high-quality materials, with good fitment and nice damping, a theme that carries through the entire cabin. The doors’ lower panels, which are made from a harder composite, feature attractive metal-rimmed Harman Kardon speaker grilles, while the sound emanating from within is even more impressive.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The Telluride’s large 10.25-inch touchscreen is filled with features and easy to use.

My SX Limited’s six-way powered driver’s seat was comfortable and its positioning superb, with plenty of rake and reach from the tilt and telescopic steering wheel, which oddly is not powered despite Kia having provided memory in this near top-tier trim (only an all-black Nightsky edition costs more, and includes all of the same features as the SX Limited). I thought maybe the top-line Hyundai Palisade would provide a powered steering column, but not so for that SUV either.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Navigation comes standard across the Telluride line.

Nevertheless, the driver’s seat includes a powered lower cushion extension for comfortably cupping under the knees, plus two-way powered lumbar support that met the small of my back nicely, while the driving position is excellent as noted, this not always the case for my long-legged, short-torso frame, but I felt comfortable and fully in control at all times. The seats provide excellent lower back support and plenty of comforting padding all-round, with reasonable side bolstering too. I believe they’ll be good for most body types, plus the Telluride should be roomy enough for almost anyone.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The Telluride’s 8-speed automatic performs seamlessly, and its drive mode selector widely varied.

Like most Kia models, the Telluride’s rear passengers are treated just as nicely as those up front. The finishings are much the same, with near identical door panels, other than manual window shades in back, plus other niceties are added such as leather and mesh pockets in the backsides of the front seats, hooks for a garbage bag or what-have-you, and USB-A charging ports for each rear passenger on the sides of each front seat. The rear outboard seats cool and heat in SX Limited trim too, while the backside of the front centre console provides a 12-volt charger along with a household-style 110-volt power outlet.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
The 6-way powered driver seat features power-extendable lower cushions and 2-way powered lumbar for good comfort.

Look upward and you’ll see an HVAC vent directly in front of each outboard passenger, while the aforementioned overhead lights and auto climate controls are within easy reach in the middle of the ceiling.

A large, comfortable armrest, complete with dual cupholders, splits the two outboard passengers when the centre position is unoccupied, this made from the same supple Nappa leather as used for the seat surfaces throughout the interior. Making it easier to slide onto those soft leather seats is a large grab handle on the B-pillar, something not always included with competitors.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
This two-pane panoramic sunroof provides plenty of light overhead, yet maintains the SUV’s structural rigidity due to a thick body panel in between.

To access the third row, simply push an electronic release button on the top side of the second-row seatback, after which the entire seat automatically slides forward with plenty of room to climb inside with ease. The third row is very comfortable, with seats that wrap around one’s back and good support in the lower regions, plus this compartment is truly roomy, even when second-row passengers are given more than enough space to move around ahead. In fact, I could easily sit in the very back with room for my feet underneath the second-row seats, plus about three inches above my head and more than enough room from side-to-side, complemented by nice views through the side quarter windows, along with a separate USB-A plug and two cupholders on each side. The rearmost driver-side passenger even has an extra spot for storage, while there are separate overhead vents for each third-row occupant too, as well as some ambient lights so no one feels lost in the dark.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Second row roominess and comfort is impressive, while fit, finish and materials quality is as good as up front.

Additionally, the dedicated cargo area behind the rear seats is spacious at 601 litres (21.2 cu ft), and includes a section below the rigid cargo floor for stowing more items out of sight. The 60/40-split third row is easy to fold down, first by automatically dropping the headrests with pull-tabs, and then by a set of buttons on the left side of the cargo wall, just above another 12-volt charger. This opens up 1,304 litres (46 cu ft) of nearly flat cargo space, while lowering the second row provides a maximum cargo volume of 2,455 litres (86.7 cu ft). Of course, the liftgate is powered, opening quickly enough, plus Kia has even gone so far as to finish off the cargo door sill with a polished stainless-steel guard.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Access to the third row is generous, and only requires the press of an electronic button.

As you might expect, the Telluride is more about comfort than speed, and therefore all occupants will appreciate the superb ride that complements those comfortable seats I just spoke about. It’s relatively hefty at 1,970 to 2,018 kilos (4,343 to 4,449 lbs), depending on trim, but nevertheless it’s fairly quick off the line thanks to a strong 3.8-litre V6 that’s good for 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, plus a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic that’s quick to respond to input.

Fuel economy is not great at 12.6 L/100km in the city, 9.7 on the highway and 11.3 combined, especially when compared to the non-hybrid Toyota Highlander’s 11.8 city, 8.6 highway and 10.3 combined rating, but it’s not as thirsty as some in this class either.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
These are two of the most comfortable rear seats in the three-row SUV sector.

On more of a positive, the Telluride handles corners well, within reason of course. Again, it’s primarily built for comfort, but can manage sharp curves with confidence and is especially poised over rough pavement and gravel, my SX Limited tester including a self-leveling rear suspension along with 20-inch alloys encircled by 245/50R20 all-season tires. Its 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) towing capacity means it’s also good for small boats and campers, always important in this family SUV sector.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Cargo space is very generous, and the luggage compartment nicely finished.

Additional standard SX Limited features not yet mentioned include rain-sensing wipers and LED taillights, while items pulled up from second-rung SX trim include the just-noted 20-inch wheels, the rear portion of the aforementioned dual-pane sunroof, and the rear sunshades, plus a hot-stamped satin chrome grille, satin chrome door handles, satin chrome beltline trim, a set of high-gloss side mirror caps, anodized roof rails, silver-painted skid plates, single-to-twin exhaust tips, metal door scuff plates, metal-finished foot pedals, ambient mood lighting, the 7.0-inch Supervision LCD/TFT instrument cluster with blind-spot view monitor noted earlier (which replaces a 3.5-inch cluster display), a 360-degree surround parking monitor, front parking sensors, and the fabulous sounding Harman Kardon audio system noted before.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Switches on the cargo area sidewall lower the rear seats.

Lastly, some standard Telluride EX features pulled up to SX Limited trim include LED headlamps with high beam assist, LED daytime running lights and positioning lamps, LED fog lights, a solar glass windshield and solar front side windows, the aforementioned front moonroof, automatic power-folding side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, plus the leather-clad steering wheel and shift knob noted earlier, as well as the superb faux woodgrain trim, tri-zone auto climate control with automatic defog, the 10.25-inch centre touchscreen with navigation, HD and satellite radio, the wireless charger and all of the other phone connectivity features mentioned before, a smart key with pushbutton start/stop, smart cruise control, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, express up/down powered windows, and a powered liftgate.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Need to pick up building supplies? No problem.

Kia also includes a whole host of advanced safety and convenience features such as Forward Collision-Avoidance assist (FCA), Lane Follow Assist (LFA), Blind-spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCTCAA), and Highway Drive Assist (HDA), plus a Driver Attention Alert system (DAA), safe exit assist system, rear occupant alert, rear parking sensors, and seven airbags including one for the driver’s knees.

All of these standard features don’t come cheap, causing the base Telluride EX to start at a fairly lofty $46,195 plus freight and fees, but keep in mind that competitors with similar features are priced in this range, and sometimes higher. On that note, the Telluride SX can be had from $51,195, while my SX Limited tester starts at $54,695, with the blackened Nightsky edition just $1,000 more at $55,695.

2021 Kia Telluride SX Limited
Valuables can be hidden below the cargo floor.

Kia is currently offering up to $750 in additional incentives, by the way, which you can find out about by becoming a CarCostCanada member. Check out how the CarCostCanada system works now, and learn how Telluride buyers saved an average of $2,111 by researching dealer invoice pricing before negotiating their best deal. To make the most of these CarCostCanada features, be sure to download their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, so you can have all this important information on your phone when you need it most.

Summing up the 2021 Kia Telluride, it’s not only a great looking mid-size SUV, but a good choice for those who want a premium-level experience without spending luxury brand pricing. It drives very well, delivers supreme comfort, and comes as well equipped as anything in its segment, while Kia backs up all of its new models with a class-leading five-year or 100,000 km comprehensive warranty. For these reasons and more, the new Telluride has earned its place amongst my favourite three-row SUVs, making it 100-percent worthy of your attention.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

Kia has gone from a lineup of smooth, sleek cars and utilities, to embracing an edgier, sportier design language that’s all about forward thought and has little to do with hanging onto the past. Just…

Kia reveals edgy new 2023 Sportage in its home market

2023 Kia Sportage
Kia is getting especially edgy with its upcoming Sportage, transforming today’s ovoid model into a dramatically angled piece of rolling modern art.

Kia has gone from a lineup of smooth, sleek cars and utilities, to embracing an edgier, sportier design language that’s all about forward thought and has little to do with hanging onto the past.

Just take a look at today’s K5 (née Optima) mid-size family sedan, or the premium-level Stinger sport sedan, not to mention the Seltos subcompact crossover SUV, the always funky Soul, all-new Sorento mid-size SUV, rugged looking Telluride full-size SUV, and the recently renewed Carnival (née Sedona) mid-size van, while the new K3 will soon mix it up in the compact sedan class when it replaces today’s Forte. Each new Kia design pushes the mainstream volume brand to sharper, wedgier extremes, and now it’s the Sportage compact crossover SUV’s turn to transform from ovoid to edgy.

2023 Kia Sportage
A narrow greenhouse makes the new Sportage looking long and low.

At first glance, the 2023 Sportage appears like Kia’s most aggressive attempt to push that design envelope yet. If the current Sportage seemed to pull inspiration from Porsche’s Cayenne when introduced in 2016, the creators of this fifth-generation SUV were tapping into the genes of Lamborghini’s Urus, or at least Audi’s RS Q8.

This makes sense considering the president and chief design officer of the entire Hyundai Motor Group is one Peter Schreyer, previously responsible for Audi’s TT (and A3, A4, A6, etc.), Volkswagen’s New Beetle (and Golf, Eos, etc.), a slew of Hyundai and Genesis models, plus everything Kia has put to market since 2008 when he took over the design department. No wonder Kia has been producing such great looking models over the past decade.

2023 Kia Sportage
The rear design is more conventional, but hardly boring.

The new Sportage is designed to turn heads, with a futuristic front fascia that’ll have you searching to find the headlights. They’re tiny LEDs in complex clusters set within two boomerang-shaped LED driving lights, both of which bookend the wide gloss-black grille positioned below a set of narrow, horizontal nostril-like openings. It’s a radical design that nevertheless should be pleasing to a large swath of SUV buyers that are currently wanting something sporty yet practical to trade up to from their less-appealing cars.

From profile, the new Sportage features a lot of side sculpting on the door panels, with a narrow greenhouse up top, for added visual length, and some really attractive detail around the lower rocker panels, giving the SUV an exposed structural look that lightens its overall presence.

2023 Kia Sportage
The headlamps are tiny LEDs integrated within a lighting cluster surrounded by large boomerang-shaped LED driving lights.

While the new Sportage looks more conventional from the rear, its body-wide taillight cluster lends to a feeling of width, with a thinness at its mid-section that almost makes it seem like it was stretched into place. All of that delicate detail is supported by a meaty rear bumper section that’s a visual extension from the just-noted blackened rockers, continuing upward to encompass two-thirds the SUV’s backside, and capped off by angular metal-look trim that mirrors a similar treatment on the aforementioned rockers and lower front fascia, the latter surrounding a set of LED fog lamps. The edgy treatment continues over to the sizeable alloy wheels, which are machine-finished with glossy black pockets in order to make them an intrinsic part of the design.

2023 Kia Sportage
Angular LED taillights are visually tied together by a narrow light strip at centre.

“Reinventing the Sportage gave our talented design teams a tremendous opportunity to do something new; to take inspiration from the recent brand relaunch and introduction of EV6 to inspire customers through modern and innovative SUV design,” said Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Design Center. “With the all-new Sportage, we didn’t simply want to take one step forward but instead move on to a different level in the SUV class.”

Kia’s new design language, which they call “Opposites United”, continues into the cabin where the uniquely shaped air vents and horizontal instrument panel trim combine like parentheses to highlight the massive dual-display primary gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen within.

2023 Kia Sportage
The rear bumper gets some aggressive metallic design details to differentiate it from others in the segment.

The single-screen layout follows a driver display design that both Kia and the namesake brand of its parent company Hyundai have been utilizing in their most recent models, which incorporates some of the most advanced tech in the industry, particularly rear-facing camera monitors that automatically provide a rearward view down either side of the vehicle when using the turn signal.

A row of switchgear follows the horizontal theme just below, integrating a nicely organized dual-zone automatic climate control panel at the mid-point, while a gently sloping piano black lacquered centre console is filled with an engine start/stop button, a rotating gear selection controller, a drive mode selector, and various other driving related buttons to the left, plus switches for the heated and cooled front seats and heatable steering wheel rim to the right. A wireless charging pad is likely fitted under the lidded compartment just ahead of this cluster of controls, along with USB ports and other connectivity/charging interfaces for personal devices.

2023 Kia Sportage
A two-in-one driver display/infotainment touchscreen is visually held in place by a set of parentheses-shaped air vents.

“When you see the all-new Sportage in person, with its sleek but powerfully dynamic stance, and when you sit inside the detailed-oriented cabin with its beautifully detailed interior and first-class materials, you’ll see we have achieved those goals and set new benchmarks,” added Habib. “In the all-new Sportage, we believe you can see the future of our brand and our products.”

Kia hasn’t shown any other details, such as its front and rear seating or the cargo compartment, but capacities should be similar to the new Hyundai Tucson that shares its underpinnings, and that compact crossover SUV has grown in size from its predecessor, now measuring 4,605 mm (181.3 inches) from nose to tail, which makes it 155 mm (6.1 in) longer than before, with a 2,751 mm (108.3 in) wheelbase that’s grown by 86 mm (3.4 in), plus it’s around half an inch (12-13 mm) wider and taller than the SUV it replaces.

2023 Kia Sportage
Kia should continue to lead the compact SUV segment in features for money spent.

The Sportage has long shared mechanical components with the Tucson as well, so we can expect a version of the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which makes 190 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque in the compact Hyundai. The Tucson utilizes an eight-speed automatic transmission across its entire trim line too, which should be the only gearbox used in the Sportage as well, while Hyundai’s compact SUV provides a front-wheel drive train in lower priced models, plus optional all-wheel drive.

We can expect more details closer to the new Sportage launch, which should take place sometime next year. All the usual trims should be available, as well as an off-road oriented X-Line version, plus a new hybrid-electric based on the latest 2022 Tucson Hybrid.

2023 Kia Sportage
The sloping lower console is filled with advanced driver controls, including a rotating dial for selecting gears.

For the time being, Kia is offering the latest 2022 Sportage with up to $750 in additional incentives, as well as $2,500 off of 2021 models, while CarCostCanada members are averaging savings of $2,361. Check their 2022 and 2021 Kia Sportage Canada Prices pages for all the details, including complete trim pricing with all available options and colours.

Also, learn how the CarCostCanada system works so you can save big on your next new vehicle purchase too, by accessing manufacturer rebate information, factory financing and leasing deals, and especially dealer invoice pricing. What’s more, remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all of this valuable information on your device when you need it most.

Story by Trevor Hofmann

Photos by Kia

Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to…

Next-generation Kia Sedona expected to use global Carnival name

2022 Kia Carnival
Kia is expected to adapt its global Carnival nameplate to the long-running Sedona minivan when it receives this stylish new update later in the year.

Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to be displayed on their vehicle.

This said, Kia Sedona owners may not have a choice if they choose to trade up to the brand’s fourth-generation minivan when it arrives later this year as a 2022 model, or so claims a VIN decoder published by the Sedona Forum, which sourced its information from the NHTSA.

The mid-size three-row van, set to debut with an entirely new look that says goodbye to the current model’s comparatively conservative front fascia and more fluid lines all-round, and hello to a much more angled, distinctive and upscale design, may be adopting the Carnival nameplate in order to maintain global continuity, which helps a brand make the most of advertising market bleed and more.

2022 Kia Carnival
The new Carnival looks even more SUV-like than the current Sedona.

Someone watching an NBA basketball game in Asia, for instance (a regular occurrence in some countries), might not realize that the Kia Sedona shown on the HD scoreboard is in fact their market’s Carnival, or alternatively that the Carnival seen by North American F1 fans on electronic billboards around the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the new Jeddah Street Circuit is actually their Sedona (not that any of these marketing campaigns actually exist). Kia did something similar years ago by aligning the name of their Canadian-market Magentis mid-size sedan (the basis for the Sedona, incidentally) with the U.S.-specific Optima, and more recently rebadged this car the K5 in both markets in order to align with the newly redesigned model’s global marketing push.

2022 Kia Carnival
The Carnival should help push Kia further upmarket in the minivan sector.

The van debuted last June in Kia’s home market of South Korea, showing off its sharp new styling and a completely redesigned, more luxurious interior to go along with it. The ultra-plush Hi Limousine variant, boasting business class-seating and premium level refinement, won’t likely enter our market, but the current Sedona raised the bar significantly in the North American minivan segment when it arrived for the 2015 model year, and has steadily been improved since, so we can expect to be impressed with its top-line trims when they arrive.

Initial photos show available twin-screen digital displays that join a configurable gauge cluster and multi-information display up with an extremely large centre-mounted infotainment touchscreen, similarly in concept to Mercedes-Benz with its MBUX system, while the model incorporates a knurled metal-edged rotating gear selector on the lower console, similar to Hyundai and Genesis (and Kia K5) models, putting an end to the traditional gear lever that’s still being used in today’s Sedona.

2022 Kia Carnival
A digital gauge cluster that visually blends into a large infotainment touchscreen will be available.

This will continue to control an eight-speed automatic transmission, connecting through to a 3.5-litre V6 engine making 294 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, which is a significant bump up from the current model’s 276 hp and 248 lb-ft. Other markets will also have the option of a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline-powered model, and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, the latter good for 202 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, but no one should expect that mill here.

Kia doesn’t offer an all-wheel drive Sedona variant at this time, and it looks as if this will be the case for the Carnival as well, based on information from the aforementioned NHTSA documents and an update by South Korean auto portal Autocast, which also reports that no gasoline-electric hybrid version will be offered either. This will be seen as a negative by environmentally-focused buyers, especially considering Toyota’s new Sienna is only offered with a hybrid power unit that includes standard all-wheel drive. Additionally, Chrysler has long offered a plug-in hybrid Pacifica with real EV driving capability, not to mention an AWD powertrain in its conventionally-powered model.

2022 Kia Carnival
Seating for up to eight should be available.

We can expect details about the Canadian-spec 2022 Carnival to surface sometime this spring, at which point we’ll know more about how this intriguing new entry will stack up against the recently redesigned Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, plus the always strong-selling Stellantis group—FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Peugeot—vans, now including a Chrysler rebranded, entry-level version of the pricier Pacifica minivan dubbed Grand Caravan in order to gain some name recognition advantage from one of Canada’s best-selling nameplates (this model is called Voyageur in the U.S., which ironically pays no heed to the market-bleed concern noted earlier).

2022 Kia Carnival
We shouldn’t expect this ultra-luxe Hi Limousine variant in our market.

When it goes on sale later this year, Kia probably won’t increase the new 2022 Carnival’s entry price by much over the current 2021 Sedona’s base LX trim MSRP of $32,295 plus freight and fees, although it’s quite possible a more luxurious variant could push up the current top-line Sedona SX Tech’s window sticker beyond $42,795. Additional 2021 Sedona trims in between include the $34,695 LX+ and the $38,695 SX, while CarCostCanada was reporting up to $750 in additional incentives at the time of writing, and get this, the automaker’s Dodge brand is selling off its now-discontinued 2020 Grand Caravan with up to $11,780 worth of available incentives.

To learn more, check out their 2021 Kia Sedona Canada Prices page, and make sure to find out how a CarCostCanada membership can help you save money by making you aware of manufacturer financing and leasing rates, telling you about any available factory rebates, and always giving you dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when negotiating over a new vehicle. Additionally, download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Android Play Store, so you can have all this important information when you need it most, at the dealership.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Kia

Guessing which vehicles will take home the annual North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards is easier some years than others, but most industry experts had 2020’s crop of winners chosen…

Chevrolet, Kia and Jeep win 2020 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The entirely new mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has won the North American Car of the Year. (Photo: Chevrolet)

Guessing which vehicles will take home the annual North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards is easier some years than others, but most industry experts had 2020’s crop of winners chosen long before this week’s announcement.

The actual name of the award is the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) despite now having three categories covering passenger cars, a sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

Just 50 automotive journalists make up the NACTOY jury, from print, online, radio and broadcast media in both the United States and Canada, with the finalists presented in the fall and eventual winners awarded each year at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, although this year’s presentation was changed to a separate event at Detroit’s TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Hall/Cobo Center) due to the 2020 NAIAS moving its dates forward to June 7-20 this year. The NACTOY awards were first presented in 1994, with the Utility Vehicle category added in 2017.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The new Corvette promises supercar performance and exotic cachet for a pauper’s price. (Photo: Chevrolet)

Of note, nomination requirements include completely new vehicles, total redesigns, or significant refreshes. In other words, the nominated vehicle needs to be something most consumers would consider new to the market or substantially different from a model’s predecessor. Also important, the finalists earned their top-three placement by judging their segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for money.

The selection process started in June last year, with the vehicle eligibility determined after three rounds of voting. NACTOY used the independent accounting firm Deloitte LLP to tally the votes and kept them secret until the envelopes were unsealed on stage by the organization’s President, Lauren Fix, Vice President, Chris Paukert, and Secretary-Treasurer, Kirk Bell.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The new Corvette’s interior appears much more upscale than previous generations. (Photo: Chevrolet)

The finalists in the “Car” category included the Chevrolet Corvette, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Supra, with the final winner being the new seventh-generation mid-engine Corvette, a total game changer for the model and sports car category. Interestingly, it’s been six years since a sports car won the passenger car category, so kudos to Chevy for creating something so spectacular it couldn’t be ignored, while Toyota and Hyundai should also be commended for their excellent entries.

“A mid-engine Corvette was a huge risk for Chevy’s muscle-car icon. They nailed it. Stunning styling, interior, and performance for one-third of the cost of comparable European exotics,” said Henry Payne, auto critic for The Detroit News.

2020 Kia Telluride
The new 2020 Kia Telluride is as close to premium as any mainstream volume branded SUV has ever been, Hyundai Palisade aside. (Photo: Kia)

The “Utility Vehicle” finalists included the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Lincoln Aviator, with most industry insiders believing one of the two South Korean entries (which are basically the same vehicle under the skin, a la Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia) would take home the prize, and lo and behold the Kia Telluride earned top marks.

“The Telluride’s interior layout and design would meet luxury SUV standards, while its refined drivetrain, confident driving dynamics and advanced technology maintain the premium experience,” said Karl Brauer, Executive Publisher at Cox Automotive. “Traditional SUV brands take note: there’s a new star player on the field.”

2020 Jeep Gladiator
The new 2020 Jeep Gladiator is everything we all love about the Wrangler with the added convenience of a pickup truck bed. (Photo: Jeep)

Lastly, “Truck” of the year finalists included the new to us Ford Ranger, the entirely new Jeep Gladiator, and the Ram HD (Heavy Duty) 2500 and 3500, with the sensational new Gladiator getting the highest marks. Incidentally, you’d need to look all the way back to 1999 to find a Jeep that won its category, that model being the Grand Cherokee.

“What’s not to like about a pickup truck with not only a soft-top removable roof but even removable doors? If you want massive cargo-hauling capability or the ability to tow 10,000 pounds, buy something else,” said longtime automotive journalist John Voelcker. “The eagerly awaited Gladiator is a one-of-a-kind truck, every bit the Jeep its Wrangler sibling is … but with a pickup bed. How could you possibly get more American than that?”

Of note, NACTOY is an independent, non-profit organization, with elected officers and funding by dues-paying journalist members.

Find out more about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Jeep Gladiator at CarCostCanada, where you can get trim, package and individual option pricing, plus rebate info and even dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. While the Corvette is not yet available, you can get up to $1,000 in additional incentives on the new Telluride, and factory leasing and financing rates from 4.09 percent for the new Gladiator. Make sure to check CarCostCanada for more.