The upcoming 2020 Kia Telluride proves one thing above all else: Kia respects their customers.
To prove my point, lets do a mental exercise: look at the above pic and forget it’s a Kia. Pretend it has a BMW badge on the grille. Or better still: a Range Rover badge. How much would you guess it costs? $65k? $70k? If you need help honing in your number, look at the gorgeous interior below.
Got your price? Good. I went into Kia’s online Telluride configurator and built it to the spec shown above (even adding AWD for $2000). The price…$46,535. Insane right?
Then I went to Land Rover’s Range Rover configurator and spec’ed a similar Range Rover. I went thru the steps, picking colors and options, keeping things as identical as possible to the Telluride. And at the end it gave me a tidy summary of my proposed Range Rover…with no price. I was simply given links to contact my local Range Rover dealer to discuss the vehicle I had just built. C’mon man.
So I went to my local Range Rover dealer’s web site to see if they had a similar Range Rover in stock…and they did. Price for that bad boy: $93,000. Now, math has never been my strong point, but this was a relatively easy calculation…its half. The Kia Telluride was half the price of the Range Rover.
Now, this is a Range Rover we’re talking about. It is, after all, Land Rover’s flagship SUV with a long and illustrious history (of massive unreliability and catastrophic ownership costs). I get that there is a certain level of apples-to-oranges here. But twice the price?
That got me to thinking: how would the BMW X5 fare in this challenge…
Better than the Range Rover but not all that great as it turns out.
BMW was at least kind enough to give me a price in their configurator: $67,640. And, like the Range Rover, I picked the base version and only selected the options that most closely copied the Kia.
This (finally) brings me to my point: the luxury brands simply do not respect their customers.
They see themselves as the cool kids in high school and you’re damn lucky to sit at their lunch table. They lean on their long history and throw out words like “pedigree” and “refinement” to justify robbing you blind.
And their preferred method of larceny is options. If I’m spending $60-90k on a car it better damn well come with everything. In BMW’s case, they wanted $1450 for the white interior. Something Kia gives you for free… And $600 for heated seats (actually, $350 but BMW requires you to get the $250 heated steering wheel as well if you get the seats). God knows what Land Rover charges because they don’t think you deserve to see the pricing when selecting options.
Now, do the BMW and Range Rover offer things the Kia doesn’t? Maybe. Have both brands been around a lot longer? Yeah. But so what.
Range Rover will say their SUV’s are the most capable off-road machines money can buy. But in recent decades Rovers have spent just as much time on the side of the interstate waiting for help, their hazard lights flickering as if sending a morse code message from Land Rover Corporate, “We got your money jerk…call AAA”.
And yes, BMW has gotten to where they are today by producing some of the worlds best sports sedans. Their ability to simultaneously tune for both a compliant ride and sporty handling was second to none. But those days are long gone, replaced by long and costly options lists in already-expensive cars that read like a big middle finger to their aspirational clientele.
That brings us back to Kia, and the value of respecting your customers. They’re giving you arguably more for your money, and the 2020 Telluride is proof positive of that.