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Kia detected the winds of change in the U.S. automotive market early, importing a compact sport-utility vehicle called the Sportage in 1997. In most years since then, it's been a strong and even dominant seller for the South Korean automaker, reaching 89,278 units sold last year. Other SUVs came along thick and fast, snatching existing markets and even creating new ones. The latest addition, the Telluride, may be Kia's most daring thrust into the SUV market.
Now in its second year of production, the Telluride fills the gap between midsize and large SUVs. It competes with its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, as well as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas. These may be classified as midsize SUVs, but make no mistake, they're big vehicles. The 2021 Telluride - named for a former mining town, now a ski resort, in southwestern Colorado - can be put to work as a people-mover carrying as many as eight passengers, or as a cargo truck with 87 cubic feet of space behind the front seats.