Kia is participating in the women-only Rebelle Rally for the fourth consecutive year with a Telluride fitted with several off-road modifications. The brand started the project with a 2024 X-Pro model and teamed up with California-based Baja Forged to prepare it for the event.
Built to compete in the X-Cross category, the family-friendly SUV will need to withstand about 1,600 miles of harsh desert terrain in Nevada and California. Kia markets the X-Pro trim as the outdoorsy member of the range, but the Telluride remains more of a soft-roader than a true off-roader. That’s where Baja Forged stepped in. The brand notably added a 1.5-inch lift kit to dial in nearly 10 inches of ground clearance.
The point of the Rebelle Rally isn’t to leave body panels and mechanical components in the desert, so Baja Forged also fitted skid plates to protect the underbody components and redesigned bumpers on both ends to increase the approach and departure angles. The crew will store equipment such as recovery boards on a custom-made roof rack, and the Telluride rides on 18-inch KMC wrapped by all-terrain tires.
It doesn’t sound like the Telluride received major mechanical modifications; the Rebelle Rally is described as a “navigation rally” by the folks who organize it, so a sharp sense of direction and off-road driving skills are more important than flat-out speed. That means power comes from a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The engine spins the four wheels — all-wheel-drive is standard on the X-Pro trim — via an eight-speed automatic transmission. There’s no two-speed transfer case or other off-road-focused features.
Verena Mei and Susie Saxten will drive the Telluride in the 2023 Rebelle Rally, which runs Oct. 12-21.
This isn’t the Telluride’s first attempt at Rebelle gold; it nearly finished first in 2020. Kia sent a pair of Sorento crossovers to the event in 2021, they finished in second and third, respectively, and a modified Sportage X-Pro took fifth in the X-Cross category during the 2022 rally.