Updated Telluride offers solid utility, good performance and handling
Roseville, Calif.- Kia made a terrific calculation when it decided to manufacture a bigger SUV than its previously largest model – the Sorento.
Debuting in 2019, the Telluride has been a major hit for the South Korean automaker. Many automotive expects label it the top three-row midsize SUV on the market today. The Telluride stands out due to its smooth ride quality, spacious interior, and a third row that can accommodate adult-size passengers, a rarity for most SUVs.
The 2023 Kia Telluride arrives with some changes, most notably updated exterior styling, new X-Line and X-Pro trim levels, larger display, and some additional driver assist features. It remains a smartly designed SUV that can seat up to eight people and offers solid utility, good performance and handling.
Because it’s also offered at a reasonably affordable price, starting at approximately $35,700, we are a bit surprised sales haven’t been better. However, sales have climbed steadily – 58,604 (2019), 75,129 (2020), 93,705 (2021) and probably similar numbers when 2022 is released.
Sporting a different look
Unlike much of its competition, the Telluride sports a different look. It has a bold, blocky exterior, a rarity in its class. It also addressed two of the Sorrento’s deficiencies – rear passenger space and cargo area. The Telluride’s primary rivals are three established heavyweights in the midsize class – Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer.
The latest version of the Telluride has five trim levels (LX, S, EX, SX, SX Prestige). There are also an X-Line versions of the EX, SX and SX Prestige, along with X-Pro versions of the SX and SX-Prestige.
The engine is an efficient 3.8-liter, V6 that generates 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. There are no available engine options. Since the fuel economy is a bit low (19-24 mpg), a turbocharged alternative would be welcomed.
The Telluride feels quicker than its 0-60 mph clocking of 7.5 seconds, an acceleration that is average for a three-row SUV. The front-wheel drive Telluride can haul up to 5,000 pounds and has all-wheel drive as an available option.
AT A GLANCE – 2023 KIA TELLURIDE
- Performance: 3.8-liter, V6, 291 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 19-24 mpg
- Price estimate: $35,700 to $52,800
- Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/100,000
We were impressed with the Telluride’s overall smooth ride handling capability. Even on challenging roads the steering is firm and there’s good stability, giving the driver lots of confidence maneuvering this relatively heavy SUV.
Safety & Interior
Standard driver safety systems include forward collision warning, forward collision avoidance assist (includes pedestrian and cyclist detection), rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane departure and lane assist warning, blind spot collision warning, lane following assist, and highway driving assist.
There’s a new standard 12.3-inch touchscreen that functions well, is easy to comprehend, and since being moved is a closer reach for the driver. There are minimal hard-plastic surfaces. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are standard, and numerous USB ports are spread across all three rows.
The interior features a layout that leaves driver and passengers with plenty of comfort. We’re a fan of the comfy second-row Captain’s chairs, which can be switched out for a bench that seats three people. Head and leg room are better than average in the first two rows and the third row is not just for kids. With all three rows being utilized, the Telluride has a cargo area of 21 cubic feet and expands to 87 with the two rows folded down.
The 2023 Kia Telluride is a terrific pick when seeking a three-row midsize SUV. The Telluride is very family-friendly, is offered at a reasonable price, and is attractive both inside and out.