2023 Kia Telluride: More off-road chops and a major marketing push

The name Telluride – pronounced with a short string of strong consonants, coincidentally like Tahoe, Tundra, Bronco, Cherokee, Pilot, Yukon, Sequoia, and Tundra – evokes powerful and strong abilities. But Kia is still largely a challenger brand in a segment where Jeep, Subaru and their likes have long steered.

Enter Madison Avenue.

In late July, creative agency David & Goliath, a unit of Innocean, assembled a cast of cameramen, directors and three 2023 Telluride X-Pros and climbed the side of a peak in the Rocky Mountains that separates the Colorado towns of Ouray and Telluride. The Mission: To demonstrate the Telluride’s newfound courage to a commercial audience in what Wagner calls “a grand and majestic setting.”

The setting was part alpine meadow, part Earth’s End, part crater, part mountain stream, with lots of loose, fixed rocks large and small, and the occasional tumbleweed.

Kia invited a small group of journalists to the summit to experience part of the first of two days of filming. This was the first time the crossover was filmed in or near Telluride, a former mining outpost where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank, in 1889. Tellurium minerals were once mined throughout the region and the streets of the rustic whistle town are still lined with gold rush shacks.

While Aspen, Colorado is the almost exclusive enclave of Saudi sheikhs, Lamborghinis and Porsches, there’s still a slice of Telluride that’s authentically Western and bare, raw frontier – the working ranch near Ralph Lauren and a few five star hotels apart.

The top-to-bottom trail saw waves of Jeep Wranglers, utility off-road vehicles, and tourists in open-air mountain buggies. There was no Land Rover Defender or even a new Ford Bronco spotted.

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