The Kia Telluride was voted the winner – from an initial list of more than 50 contenders – by 86 jurors from 24 countries around the world.
It is the first time Kia or any South Korean car company has won the award in its 16-year history (since 2005).
The vehicle is currently sold in North America (USA and Canada) and the Middle East, but CarAdvice understands the Kia Telluride and its twin under the skin, the Hyundai Palisade, are due in Australian showrooms some time in the next 12 months.
“It is a great honour for us to see the Telluride named 2020 World Car of the Year,” said Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President and Head of Product Division at Kia Motors Corporation in a prepared media statement.
“This is one of the hardest-fought competitions in the global automotive industry, proving that the Telluride is a truly outstanding vehicle. This accolade is testament to the talents and efforts of a worldwide team, who all strive to create desirable, high-quality and practical cars that drivers love.”
Other 2020 World Car of the Year category winners included the Porsche Taycan (pictured below) electric vehicle (World Luxury Car and World Performance Car), the Kia Soul electric hatchback (World Urban Car), and the Mazda 3 (World Car Design).
The initial list of more than 50 contenders was whittled down to 29 vehicles, most of which were tested back-to-back in the lead-up to last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Judges can only vote for vehicles they have tested; the secret ballot is vetted by forensic accounting firm KPMG.
The finalists for the other categories included the Mini electric and Volkswagen T-Cross (World Urban Car), the Mercedes EQC electric and Porsche 911 sports-car (World Luxury Car), while Porsche dominated with the performance category with the Porsche Cayman GT4, Porsche 911 and Porsche Taycan.
World Car of the Year Winners
2020: Kia Telluride
2019: Jaguar i-Pace
2018: Volvo XC60
2017: Jaguar F-Pace
2016: Mazda MX-5
2015: Mercedes C-Class
2014: Audi A3
2013: VW Golf Mk7
2012: VW Up
2011: Nissan Leaf
2010: VW Polo
2009: VW Golf Mk6
2007: Lexus LS
2006: BMW 3 Series
2005: Audi A6
Disclosure: the author of this story is a judge on the World Car of the Year panel.