Kia is the One Taking Aim

The Subaru Ascent Has a Big Target on Its Back


February 6, 2019 Cars By Photo by Kia
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We got our first glimpse of the Kia Telluride – and what the Korean manufacturer has in store for its all-new three-row SUV – at this year’s NAIAS. Today, with the announcement of the $31,690 price tag along with a few specs, it’s clear Kia is gunning for the Subaru Ascent, and the Volkswagen Atlas should watch its back.

A 3.8-liter V6 engine making 291 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque gives the Telluride life and is standard across all available trims. The base model comes in at just under $32,000 but the top trim Telluride SX starts at only $41,490. Considering all the luxuries that come as standard, the Telluride is priced to compete. Even the base LX trim comes with a slew of driver assistance, collision avoidance and safety systems, but move up to the SX, and you get second-row heated and ventilated captains chairs, all-wheel-drive, dual sunroofs, and Harmon/Kardon speakers as standard — all in a truck Kia is claiming is off-road capable, too.

It’s a bold move into territory fraught with stiff competition, but, it shouldn’t come as a surprise play from Kia. The Korean brand is riding a wild wave of momentum generated from its luxury sub-brand Genisis and, most notably, the Stinger sedan. Kia has already proven it can build quality cars at incredibly affordable prices, the problem is its name, and Kia knows it.

If you were one of the 98 million people to tune into Super Bowl last Sunday (and somehow make it through the excruciating mess of a half-time show), chances are you caught Kia’s commercial spot for the Telluride. The first full minute of the commercial was so laden with moody, blue-collar, small-town-America overtones that no one in the room would’ve batted an eyelash if a Chevy, Dodge, or Ford plowed into the water at the end. But it was a Kia, so naturally, everyone groaned.

Rewatch the commercial, knowing it’s for a Kia and listen to what the voiceover says. “We are not famous… We’re not known for who we are. We hope to be known for what we do, what we build. This thing we’ve assembled — it has a chance to be remembered. No, we are not famous, but we are incredible, and we make incredible things.” Kia is politely self-deprecating, admitting it’s not legendary like Subaru or Volkswagen while at the same time acknowledging its most recent run of form. If Kia can pour the same quality and care into the Telluride as it did the Stinger and Genisis line, groan all you want, but don’t be surprised when it becomes the top choice in its segment.

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