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New Generations – Kia Telluride/BMW X1

Popular luxury SUVs are reborn with newer, more expansive models.

Test Drive: Kia Telluride

The midsize Kia Telluride exudes an upscale vibe.

(Photo: Kia Motors America)

At first glance, the historic town of Telluride, Colo., and the brand-new 2020 Kia Telluride SUV would seem to have little in common. Look closer, however, and you’ll find there’s definitely a connection.

Namesakes aside, both share an upscale vibe that, in the Kia’s case, might surprise you. This midsize sport-utility vehicle’s handsome exterior gives it a presence with the same rugged style as the former mining town high in the San Juan mountains.

Inside Telluride’s spacious three-row cabin you’ll find a comfortable place with room for up to eight passengers (or seven, with the available second-row captain’s chairs), including an adult-friendly back seat. Technology includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, plus as many as a half-dozen USB plug-ins to keep everyone’s devices charged. There are even two clever audio system modes: one that mutes the rear speakers so passengers can sleep and another that projects the driver’s voice back there when it’s time to wake them up.

Add the 291-horsepower V-6 mated to a competent all-wheel drive system (front-wheel drive is standard), and Telluride becomes both an interesting road trip destination and an SUV that’s a great way to get the family there.

Base Price:$31,690

MPG:20 city, 26 highway

Crash Test: N/A

Test Drive: BMW X1

The new X1 is both upscale and practical.

(Photo:© BMW of North America, LLC)

Based on BMW’s uber-popular 3 Series sedan, the first-generation X1 was arguably the most fun to drive of all compact sport-utility vehicles. Alas, gen 1 is gone, replaced by an X1 that shares architecture with the Mini Clubman. The base version now has front-wheel rather than rear-wheel drive. And no longer is a six-cylinder engine an option; a turbo four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic is the only engine/transmission combo offered.

The upshot? The latest X1 is more practical. A little taller and wider, it’s quite roomy for a compact SUV. The interior is upscale and well-crafted except for the front-seat cushions, which are uncomfortably short and flat. A shorter hood allows excellent forward visibility. Handling is safe and secure. And the engine is silky smooth.

A front-wheel-drive X1 is the least expensive BMW, with a base price just under $35,000. All-wheel drive and option packages can drive the price tag crazy-high. But even the base model comes with plenty of standard goodies, including a power liftgate and Bluetooth. Stick to the basics and you can have this BMW for not much more than you’d pay for a compact SUV from a less prestigious brand.

Base Price: $35,000

MPG: 22 city, 31 highway

Crash Test: 5 Stars

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