Class: Midsize Crossover
Color: Midnight Lake Blue
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.
Miles driven: 281
Observed fuel economy: 17.6 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/25/21 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $52,785 (not including $1335 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($495), Terracotta Interior Color Package ($295), carpeted floor mats ($210)
Price as tested: $55,120
The great: Premium cabin appointments, generous passenger space
The good: Plenty of power, decent fuel economy, long-trip comfort, rugged off-road look, some off-road cred
The not so good: Disappointing fuel economy
Per Wikipedia, Brutalism is a post-war architectural movement centered in the United Kingdom featuring strong, simple designs and plenty of bare, raw-material surfacing. The movement started in the Fifties, and was mostly exhausted by the Eighties. Examples in the U.S. are limited, though Boston’s City Hall is a well-known, and highly controversial example.
Heavily updated for 2023, I am making the case that the Kia Telluride—especially in X-Pro trim—is designed in the Brutalist tradition, featuring a strong and simple profile and uncluttered flanks. To celebrate the Telluride’s architecture, I photographed the big Kia in front of the only Brutalist structure found in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. Built in 1977, the Daily Herald Building is hard to miss as your travel west out of Chicago on the Jane Addams Expressway.
Prepare for a tortured segue…
But, for as strong and simple as the Telluride looks, the 2023 lineup is rather far reaching and somewhat complex. For ’23, the Telluride trim ladder begins with the bottom-rung LX (starting around $37,000) and ascends through S ($39,000), EX ($43,000), EX X-Line ($47,000), SX ($47,000), SX X-Line ($50,000), SX X-Pro ($51,000), SX Prestige ($52,000), SX Prestige X-Line ($53,000), and SX Prestige X-Pro ($54,000).
The new-for-2023 X-Line and X-Pro trim levels, available at a number of price points, bring an off-road look to the updated Telluride, and in the case of the X-Pro, a bit of additional capability as well. The X-Line equipment group includes a new Tow Mode, beefier roof rails, a redesigned grille, and trim-level specific 20-inch wheels. The X-line also enjoys roughly half an inch more ground clearance than other Tellurides.
The more off-road capable X-Pro trades the 20-inch wheels for 18-inch units shod with all-terrain tires, almost an inch of additional ground clearance, and 12-volt and 110-volt power outlets in the cargo area. All X-Line and X-Pro models come standard with AWD.
Kia’s midsize crossover is a step up in size and power from the brand’s Sorento, and features three rows of seating on all trim levels, and places for 7 or 8, depending on whether or not a particular example features 2nd-row captain’s chairs.
All Tellurides are powered by the same 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Regardless of trim level, front-wheel-drive Tellurides earn an EPA combine fuel-economy estimate of 23 mpg, while AWD models are rated at 21.
Consumer Guide recently spent a week with the top-trim SX Prestige X-Pro in Midnight Lake Blue. We came away very impressed. As savvy auto shoppers might know, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are close cousins mechanically, but the two crossovers are styled and tuned differently, and specific brand influence can be profound. We’ll get back to that in a moment.
Our recent evaluation of the Palisade Calligraphy left us very impressed, especially the level of luxury the vehicle serves up in top-trim Calligraphy guise. While the Telluride is not meaningfully less posh, its general décor theme is of a woodsier nature, in keeping with the X-Pro equipment.
Good news: The X-Pro’s elevated ride height doesn’t complicate getting into or out of the Telluride, though the opportunity to brush your pantleg against the potentially dirty exterior of the car is marginally greater.
Inside the Telluride the Brutalism theme falls apart. The big Kia is comfortable and plenty roomy in the front two seating row. The third row is large for the class, though most adults will begrudge having to spend too much time back there. The control layout is typical Hyundai/Kia smart, which is to say easy to read, and easy to use. The large touchscreen is put to good use, and frequently-used climate and audio controls are mostly front and center.
We found the front-row seats long-haul comfortable, and outward visibility from the driver’s seat excellent. There’s plenty of power for around-town driving and on-ramp merging, and the engine makes a pleasant, refined sound when tasked with something more than simple commuting.
Ride comfort is excellent, and truth be told, we find the Telluride to be a more-comfortable, better-handling vehicle than the Palisade. That said, we strongly recommend that serious shoppers test drive both vehicles.
If you’re spending a lot of time trying to decide between the X-Line and X-Pro variants of the Telluride, don’t overthink the decision. The X-Pro does not ask much in exchange for its generally beefier disposition, and it rides and handles about as well as any Telluride. And, getting back to the specific tuning Hyundai and Kia apply to their versions of this truck—as noted above–we prefer the Kia’s sportier ride and handling, and slightly quieter highway experience.
One of our primary concerns regarding the Telluride in this trim level is that consumers are unlikely to remember their truck’s complete proper name. Kia Telluride SX Prestige X-Pro is a lot to remember. To make things simpler for owners, we suggest going with a nickname, Exy or Pro Pro, perhaps.
The updated Telluride was not made available to Consumer Guide in time for 2023 Best Buy consideration. Had it been, it seems likely this practical, luxurious, high-value Kia would have made our list. And, even if it isn’t a 2023 Best Buy, we strongly recommend you add it to your test-drive short list.
Oh, and if you’re an architecture fan, we strongly recommend going with the Brutalist-aligned X-Pro.
Kia Telluride SX Prestige X-Pro Gallery
Click below for enlarged images.