Kia Telluride Rakes In Profit as Customers Are Buying Them Loaded

Drew Dorian
Photo credit: Kia

From Car and Driver

  • The Kia Telluride is proving to be a sales juggernaut, raking in cash with an average transaction price of over $40,000.
  • Data from Cox Automotive shows that the majority of buyers are going for high-end models or adding options to midrange trims.
  • A Hyundai spokesman suggested that the Palisade's sales in this "early launch period" are par for the course because "early adopters tend to want fully loaded trims."

Kia's latest entrant in the competitive mid-size-SUV segment–the handsome Telluride–is proving quite popular. According to a new report from Cox Automotive, it appears to be luring moneyed buyers to the value brand's showrooms.

As first reported by Cars Direct, the Telluride's average transaction price since going on sale eight months ago is over $40,000, meaning most buyers are going with the top-spec SX trim or spending money on options for the midrange EX. Although base Telluride LX models start at just $32,785, the EX and SX start at $38,185 and $42,585 respectively.

Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

Such a situation is likely a dream come true for Kia and its dealers, many of which are apparently having trouble keeping the Telluride in stock. According to the same report from Cox, an average Telluride spends only 10 days on the ground at Kia dealers before being snapped up by eager buyers.

According to the most recent data from Automotive News, Kia has sold 34,160 Tellurides through August 2019, with 6374 of them leaving dealer lots that month. That number surpasses its corporate twin, the Hyundai Palisade, which sold 5115 units in August. It should be noted that Palisade sales are still ramping up, as the Hyundai version of the SUV launched much later than the Kia, starting sales in June. To put that into perspective, the well-established Toyota Highlander sold 28,364 in the same time period.

We've had a chance to drive both, and we've come away impressed, especially with top-spec Telluride SX and Palisade Limited models, which offer near-luxury interiors and long lists of standard technology and safety equipment. For instance, Telluride SX models come with a panoramic sunroof, automatic high-beam headlamps, 20-inch wheels, a Harman/Kardon stereo, and many other luxuries that bring the Telluride in line with luxury SUVs such as the Cadillac XT6 and Acura MDX.

If transaction prices remain high, it could be a signal that Hyundai and Kia—both historically viewed as low-priced alternatives to established brands—have officially blurred the line between mainstream and luxury lineups. Or, it could simply be an indicator of what models are being made available for sale at dealerships, with high-end models being promoted and base models being harder to come by.

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