'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own game

Confession time. Late last month, I found myself almost trapped in the USA, where I was working (cars and cancer charity); visiting family members (never easy); servicing my mother’s Jeep Grand Cherokee (easier); and wondering if I should bite the bullet and move out to The Land of the Free (er, no – I can’t afford the health insurance premiums). 

Long story short – roadblocks, near-empty airports and limited flights back to the UK hindered my ‘escape’ from my sister’s house, which sits inside a walled and barricaded ‘community’. Honest.

I owed it to myself to choose a rugged, reliable and safe mode of transport to aid my breakout, possibly via Canada. And I was fortunate to have a large fleet of expensive and cheap vehicles – all of them 2020 World Car Awards contenders – to assist in my departure.   

My lower-mid-price vehicle of choice? The $32,000 (£26,000)-and-up Kia Telluride – a big, boxy, brutally handsome, borderline premium US-built SUV that’s almost limo-like, and therefore ridiculously priced. Via secret ballot, it got my vote as THE World Car of the Year. And many of my 85 voting colleagues – editor-in-chief Steve Fowler included – did the same, because it secured that coveted title. Outgoing 2019 WCOTY champ JLR respectfully congratulated Kia for inheriting the crown from its Jaguar I-Pace – but warned it was merely on loan, as Land Rover intends to snatch it back next year with the Defender.

Back to the Telluride, the greatest car for the world. I’ve driven it on the west and east coasts of North America, which is where it’s mainly sold. In view of the fact that the production line is in Georgia, USA, that makes sense. Incidentally, the majority of Kias are now built outside Korea, and we need a plant here in Britain. How about one in the Swindon area to replace the retreating, red-faced Honda, preferably building pure-electric and hybrid versions of Telluride? It could, and should, happen. The Telluride is the best American-built SUV I’ve ever driven. Sorry, Jeep, but Kia has beaten you at your own game.

The question now is whether Kia can do to Land Rover in the UK what it has to Jeep in the US? Unlikely. But with the Telluride and other Kia SUVs expected to be based upon it, the fight might just be on. Let battle commence, I say. And sooner rather than later. 

Like me, Steve Fowler has spent time in a Telluride, and was similarly impressed – as was his family. Fitting the Fowler Five into a US-orientated SUV should be easy – and the Telluride managed it with ease. But keeping Steve happy behind the wheel is a different story. Yet he was enthralled by its BMW-beating quality, tech and style in an almost X7-sized car that’s a fraction of the price. I remember him returning from his trip and telling me: “That should be a World Car of the Year contender”. It was, and it morphed into the 2020 winner. In this world there is – occasionally – such a thing as justice.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know in the comments below...

*Mike Rutherford is donating his fee for this article to the Marcus Rutherford Foundation/Young Adult Cancer Trust.

Get more from Auto Express...

Recommended

Kia gears up to launch seven new electric cars by 2027
Kia's EV future 1
Kia

Kia gears up to launch seven new electric cars by 2027

Kia has sparked its aspirational brand restructure, which will see the firm focus more heavily on electric cars and sustainable motoring
15 Jan 2021
New Kia logo revealed as part of aspirational rebranding
Kia

New Kia logo revealed as part of aspirational rebranding

New corporate look for Kia as it enters new era with a heavy focus on electric cars
6 Jan 2021
Hyundai Motor Group details dedicated electric car platform
Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Group details dedicated electric car platform

Hyundai has released a detailed specification for its new E-GMP architecture, which will underpin 23 new electric cars by 2025
2 Dec 2020
New flagship Kia electric coupe-SUV spotted ahead of 2021 launch
Kia

New flagship Kia electric coupe-SUV spotted ahead of 2021 launch

Kia's electric coupe-SUV with ambitions of taking on the Porsche Taycan for tech has been spied for the first time
28 Jul 2020

Most Popular

Electric Nissan e-NV200 Winter Camper concept revealed
Nissan e-NV200 Winter Camper concept
News

Electric Nissan e-NV200 Winter Camper concept revealed

All-electric campervan features a built-in kitchen, a folding bed and a power pack that can be recharged using a roof-mounted solar panel
21 Jan 2021
Updated Abarth 595 range launched with fresh interior
Abarth 595 2021 - main
Abarth 500

Updated Abarth 595 range launched with fresh interior

Subtle styling tweaks and a more emissions-friendly engine range for revised Abarth 595
22 Jan 2021
Best electric cars to buy 2021
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2021

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
4 Jan 2021