There is a reason why the KIA Telluride is still the top choice in the 3-row SUV segment. Even after a few years since it was first released, it still stands out when it comes to the set of standard features throughout its range, but the premium styling and interior forced other manufacturers to step up their game in the 3-row segment. The updates for 2023 are mainly styling changes, but KIA also decided to bring more trims for adventure seekers.
The biggest change is the new X-Pro trim, but the Telluride still looks very similar. There is no reason for KIA to change a winning formula, but it is more of a small tweak when it comes to the overall design. Just like the previous model, the front fascia offers a nice balance of premium and aggressive looks. The tiger nose grille is the signature design feature, and the boxy design language gives it a commanding presence to stand out on the road. The headlights are also updated, and I wish KIA kept the orange daytime running lights which is the only step backwards when it comes to the overall design language.
The side profile is another feature of its rugged exterior design, thanks to its boxy silhouette. It has a quite long wheelbase, which contributes to the overall interior space. The X-Pro trim comes with special 18″ black alloy wheels, as well as All-terrain tires for better off-road capability. It also has higher ground clearance, which makes the Telluride look even taller and bigger in general. It also offers blacked-out parts throughout the exterior.
Just like the front end, the hatch and rear end are mainly unchanged, you still get the bold and distinctive design language. The taillights are updated, but the hatch area is still boxy with angular shapes. The large tailgate offers a wide, flat surface that makes it easy to load and unload cargo. It offers a nice balance of rugged and premium design language as a whole package.
The changes are more noticeable in the interior, and it is where you feel KIA took a note from the class above. The interior is just gorgeous and it is clearly designed for North American families. There are tons of physical buttons, they are big and easy to understand the layout. The Terracotta Brown Leather looks very premium in person, and unlike the Hyundai Palisade, it comes with an actual shifter column for people who hate button shifters, including me. KIA proves that you don’t need to put everything into a digital screen to come up with a beautiful interior design.
That said, there are significant improvements when it comes to digital screens. The screens are updated, including the 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster and another 12.3-inch infotainment screen placed side by side, but they look like one piece when they are off. Just like any other modern KIA or Hyundai product, it comes with the latest infotainment software and neat features like the Blind View Monitor that shows your blind spot through the digital cluster. The only problem is that it still does not have wireless smartphone integration, meaning that you have to plug in your phone every time to use the CarPlay or Android Auto.
The X-Pro trim might be the most off-road-oriented version, but it is also the top trim in the model lineup. It means that the driver’s seat is 12-way adjustable and it also comes with the memory function. You don’t get the same adjustability and memory function for the front passenger seat, but you will find the heated, and ventilated seats for the first and second row. The second-row passengers also get Captain’s Seats, sunshade curtains and third-climate zone controls with the higher trims. If you want an 8-seat configuration, you have to choose lower trims and I wish KIA was more flexible when it comes to offering both options for all trims.
The biggest difference is that the third row is not power-operated like the Hyundai Palisade, and it is a better choice if you are looking for slightly larger cargo space, and faster operation as long as you are okay with using your muscles. It has of the largest 3-rows in its class, and you will have no issues with the legroom and headroom in general. Although the third row has less space, it feels more spacious than many entries in this segment.
It still doesn’t change the fact that accessing the third row is not as easy as a minivan, and the third-row seats are still for emergency situations especially if you are a large adult. For longer trips, you can ask the second-row passenger to move their seat forward for more space. As a third-row passenger, you also get creature comforts such as cup holders and USB ports.
Whether you are using the third row occasionally or on a regular basis, you will find tons of cargo room behind the driver’s seat. The Telluride has a larger cargo area than most midsize SUVs. There are 21 cubic feet (595 litres) of cargo space behind the third row, 46 cubic feet (1302 litres) with those seats folded, and it goes all the way up to 87 cubic feet (2464 litres) with all rear seats folded. Higher trims also come with the power-operated tailgate.
Under the hood of every KIA Telluride is a naturally aspirated 3.8L V6 direct injection engine that makes 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The horizontally placed V6 engine is paired with an 8-Speed automatic transmission with torque converter and standard all-wheel-drive in Canada, but it sends most power to the front wheels until you start losing traction. The drivetrain is definitely not the most responsive option, especially at lower speeds, but it offers plenty of power at higher RPMs. All Telluride trims also come with different driving modes, and terrain modes for optimum traction.
That’s where the problem starts with the off-road-oriented X-Pro trim because there is no serious hardware difference. Without having essential features for off-roading such as the locking rear differential, or skid plates, it is just not as “Pro” as you might think. Of course, the all-terrain tires can be helpful to drive off the beaten path further, and the ground clearance is 10mm higher than regular trims, but it still offers less ground clearance than other entries like the Subaru Ascent. The X-Pro trim might be the right choice if you prioritize the towing capacity, as it provides 5500 lbs maximum towing capacity instead of 5000 lbs with the other trims.
The Telluride is still one of my favourite entries in this segment, and the mid-cycle refresh is a conservative step forward in the right direction. The X-Pro trim is a missed opportunity for the brand, but you still have 4 other trims to choose from. If KIA really wants to compete in the premium segment, they need to offer more premium and less boring drivetrain options such as the turbocharged V6 engine that you would find in the KIA Stinger and some Genesis models. With the starting price of $65,483, it is not easy to recommend the X-Pro trim unless you are ready to pay the premium for the extra rugged looks, and need more ground clearance and more towing capacity.
|Engine||Naturally aspirated V6, 3778cc|
|Transmission & Drivetrain||8-Speed automatic & AWD|
|Max power||291 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|Max torque||262 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm|
|0-100 km/h||6.9 sec|
|Curb Weight||4522 lbs – 2051 kg|
|Fuel Economy (as tested)||19 MPG – 12.5L / 100 km|
|Price (as tested)||$65,453 CAD|