"Customer loyalty and brand perception are looser than ever before, so this is probably the best time for the Korean automakers to jump into the ring."The handsome Telluride captured 10,965 sales in its first two months of availability in the U.S. and became the automaker's fastest-turning model in the nation last month, according to Bill Peffer, vice president of sales and operations for Kia Motors America. The Georgia-assembled crossover accounted for more than 10 percent of the brand's sales in April, at 5,570 units.
While that's a small fraction of the large-crossover class, analysts say, its an impressive early showing for the Telluride, which becomes another fierce contender facing segment leaders such as the Ford Explorer, the Toyota Highlander and three General Motors models.
"Up until a year and a half ago, give or take, if you produced an SUV, that's pretty much all you had to do," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. "It didn't have to be a great SUV, or a perfectly styled SUV. Now, there's so many SUVs that the market is saturated with them," he said.
In addition to the Telluride, and the Palisade that goes on sale this summer, all-new crossovers include the Subaru Ascent that showed up for the 2019 model year and the Volkswagen Atlas that arrived as a 2018 model. Despite the burst of activity, analysts said, there's still plenty of upside for the Korean newcomers.
For the first four months of this year, the Ascent sits in fifth place in sales and the Atlas in sixth place, behind the Explorer, Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. The Buick Enclave and the Telluride round out the top eight. The Honda Pilot, with sales this year just shy of the Traverse's, is a midsize crossover, another segment facing disruption from new players, including the reborn Honda Passport and Chevrolet Blazer.