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Kia Telluride: How we'd equip our Best Car To Buy 2020 winner

After the dust settled and votes were counted in our Best Car To Buy 2020 competition, the Kia Telluride stood alone at the summit. 

With the Telluride, Kia has its best family crossover and its best value—right in our wheelhouse. And we think good value among three-row crossovers is harder to find than lost socks in the laundry room. That's because big family vehicles are booming; they're best-sellers on dealer lots because they've effectively replaced minivans as standard-issue hardware for life in suburbia. Just like cookies and hot sauce, family crossovers sell themselves.

The Telluride appealed to our experts for dozens of reasons: space, looks, drivability, comfort, and features all factored heavily in the final tally. But not all Tellurides are the same, and some are more comfortable or luxurious than others.

2020 Kia Telluride - Best Car To Buy 2020

Our test model was a 2020 Telluride SX with all-wheel drive that cost $43,490 before nearly every option Kia can throw at it. The Snow White Pearl paint was a $395 add-on, and the SX Prestige Package tacked on another $2,000. Add $1,045 for destination and $335 for some dealer-installed floor mats and cargo mat, and our champion ran up a $47,255 tab. Nearly all of our editors agreed that at that price the 2020 Telluride SX was a bona fide rival for vehicles that cost even $30,000 more, but our recommended trim isn't the one we drove.

That's because we're cheap at The Car Connection. The only thing tighter than the grip on our wallets is the roll on our toothpaste in the bathroom.

2020 Kia Telluride

With our own money, we'd opt instead for a Telluride EX—one level below the SX—that's an even better value. For $38,185, including destination, the front-drive Telluride EX gets 18-inch wheels, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, leather upholstery, a power liftgate, seating for eight, six USB chargers, heated and cooled driver and front passenger seats, a wireless phone charger, and useful family features like "Quiet mode," which silences audio in the rear seats and "Driver Talk," which projects the driver's voice into the third row.

To complement the Telluride's standard 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission, we added an all-wheel-drive system that costs $2,000 extra. It's added all-weather confidence and doesn't extract a heavy fuel-economy penalty; the EPA's combined rating for the all-wheel-drive Telluride is 21 mpg, just 2 mpg lower than front-drive models. At $2.54 per gallon (the average cost nationwide for gasoline), the all-wheel-drive Telluride costs about $13 more each month in fuel costs.

To that end, we also opted for a towing package that adds a load-leveling rear suspension and a tow hitch. Every Telluride is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, but with the optional package it does it with less squat and more confidence.

2020 Kia Telluride

We're left with two more decisions, both of which were easier to make. For the exterior? Dark Moss that's a shade of green so deep, rich, and organic that pines are looking for their royalty checks. Inside, we'd opt for the black leather that looks dressier than the gray leather available on EX models.

All in, our 2020 Telluride EX forest green on black hides with all-wheel drive and tow package costs $40,980 before we haggle on floor mats and cargo covers.

That's value rivaled only by the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, which is related to the Telluride, but nearly alone among three-row crossovers. We'll take it.