2021 Kia Telluride review: One of the best SUVs you can buy
In a world teeming with SUVs of all shapes, sizes and styles, the Kia Telluride 2021 is an all-star car. With driving refinement and interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury car, eye-catching styling and plenty of versatility, this three-row hauler is arguably one of the best in the segment.
- Luxury car appointments
- Great driving refinement refinement
- Spacious cabin
I do not like
- Useless lane maintenance assistance
- Obviously faux wood finishes
With a welcoming front, a harsh rear, and sleek flanks accented by interesting step light work surrounding the side glass, Kia’s Telluride SUV is truly attractive. In my eyes, it is far prettier than its sister, the equally compelling if more interestingly styled Hyundai Palisade.
Adding to its curb appeal (if you embrace the darkness, that is), my top-of-the-line SX-trim tester comes with the $ 1,295 Nightfall Edition appearance package, a group of options available on several models. As the name suggests, Nightfall gets a number of darkened elements, including 20-inch wheels, roof rails, skid plates, emblems and grille, plus some slightly darker greenhouse finishes. Overall, the look is attractive if a little too monochromatic for my taste.
What’s right in my alley, however, is the gorgeous interior of the Telluride. From the materials and textures to the layout and build quality, everything is top notch – the only exception is the fake wood paneling. The premium grain on the soft plastic is lovely, the buttons and switches feel solid and work with a Mercedes-Benz-like smoothness, and all the controls are easy to reach and use, meaning you don’t need to fumble to understand how to engage the auto brake – keep the function or lower the fan speed. My tester is also equipped with the $ 2,300 SX Prestige package, which brings goodies like a head-up display, Nappa leather seat surfaces, heated and ventilated second-row seats, rain sensing wipers, and more to the table, helping to make the luxury vehicle feel even more premium already.
The Telluride also scores highly for its overall comfort. While its front seats could use more contours to be truly pampered for long-haul travel, they’re still good. The second row buckets in my tester are approved for road travel, however, they adjust in multiple directions, providing excellent comfort for adult passengers thanks to their raised lower cushions and being hospitable in all seasons thanks to the heating functions and ventilation above. Ensuring everyone’s mobile devices remain fully powered, this Telluride has two USB Type A sockets on the sides of the front seat backrests, as well as a 12-volt outlet and a 110-volt household outlet at the bottom of the center console. There are also a couple of USB ports that serve the third row. No, you can’t get a proper rear seat entertainment system, but Kia tells me one is in the works.
Providing easy access to the Telluride’s rear bench, those second-row buckets tilt and slide at the push of a button, leaving a path wide enough for nimble adults to climb. Mid-sized adults should also be reasonably comfortable in this Kia’s third-row seat, which is hospitable enough and offers decent amounts of room for both legs and heads.
If you need to carry freight instead of just passengers, Telluride has you covered. With 21 cubic feet of space behind the third row, it offers more space than a Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander. The space behind the second and first row seats is very similar for all four of these vehicles, although the Explorer has a miniscule advantage in the total cargo room. It folds up all its seats and the Telluride offers an impressive 87 cubic feet of trash carrying space.
Come on, let’s talk about technology. Advanced driving aids such as rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and rear cross-traffic warning are all standard across the Telluride range. Lane keeping assistance is also included, but it’s practically useless, doing next to nothing to stop this Kia from wandering like a tramp.
On the infotainment front, the lower models feature an 8-inch dashboard touchscreen, although my SX tester has a generous 10.2-inch display that’s both bright and easy to reach. Kia’s latest infotainment system isn’t necessarily my favorite offering, although it’s still excellent, simple to use, and responsive. Zooming in or out on the navigation map and scrolling through menus are fast and smooth. The variant doesn’t matter,is are included with every Telluride.
By putting everything in motion, only one transmission is offered in this three-row dumper. The Telluride uses a 3.8-liter petrol V6 that delivers 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Soft and quiet, this engine is paired exclusively with an Ivy League intelligent eight-speed automatic transmission. Seriously clever, this shifter is the closest to perfection you’ll ever find in a mass market vehicle, being witty, silky smooth and eager to downshift even if you gently press the accelerator pedal to recall a bit. more than speed.
This Kia isn’t a featherweight, clocking at 4,482 pounds, but the performance it delivers is pretty impressive, at least when empty and without a trailer in tow. Driven normally, the Telluride has no problem keeping up with traffic or overtaking drivers on Sundays. He nails the throttle and starts, the engine starting quickly, aided by that always resourceful transmission. Carrying a full load up the side of a desert mountain in the heat of July could be a problem, but driven across plains with no passengers or luggage, the Telluride delivers excellent performance.
Like any SUV worthy of the name, all-wheel drive is available, an optional feature across the Telluride range. As you’d expect, it cuts fuel economy, but only by a couple of miles per gallon. This example features the traction enhancement feature and is rated at 19mpg in the city, 24mpg on the highway and 21mpg combined. In mixed driving, I averaged 21.1mpg according to the on-board computer, a better figure than expected given how liberal I was with the accelerator pedal.
As for ride quality, it’s as flexible and refined as this Kia’s luxury interior, which also remains unnervingly quiet, even at highway speeds. Telluride easily shakes off big bumps while smaller imperfections are almost completely filtered out. The handling of this SUV is benign and predictable, but nothing to sing about.
The Telluride is nicer and better designed than probably any of its main rivals, and in some ways it feels like a step above some so-called luxury vehicles. And what is most remarkable about all of this is the price. Including $ 1,170 in destination taxes, a base LX model starts at $ 33,000 and changes, though my well-equipped SX all-wheel drive tester checks out for $ 50,180, although that still seems like a bargain. In short, Kia absolutely nailed the Telluride.