Being the best puts a target on your back. The
Kia Telluride has been our top mid-size SUV since it debuted for 2020, bar none. The three-row ute has received three straight 10Best awards and has never lost a comparo, vanquishing challengers such as the Mazda CX-9 and the Toyota Highlander and even its corporate counterpart, the Hyundai Palisade. Instead of letting its champion grow complacent, Kia has continued to refine the Telluride for 2023, making it handsomer, enhancing its equipment, and toughening it up.
Range Rover, Er, Kia Telluride
There's little fundamentally different about the updated Telluride. Its 291-hp V-6, eight-speed automatic, and other mechanical bits remain the same. Its reshaped grille adds three-dimensional mesh trim, its front bumper has a boxier design, and its revised LED headlights have dual vertical elements. Gone are the TELLURIDE lettering on the hood and—sadly—the distinctive amber headlight accents. But that's about it. The facelift is subtle; then again, this canvas already looked pretty good to our eyes.
The Telluride's vaunted value proposition does take a hit for 2023, with prices rising between $1700 to $2900, but its $37,025 base price for a front-wheel-drive LX model is still a heck of a deal. The upcharge for the new model year is mostly offset by newly available content ranging from a digital rearview mirror and a digital key (via keycard or smartphone app) to expanded driver-assistance tech that allows the Kia to automatically change lanes upon the driver's prompt. Also new are the X-Line and X-Pro trims, both of which feature standard all-wheel drive, slightly greater approach and departure angles, and an extra smidge of ground clearance (8.4 versus 8.0 inches) compared with lesser models. The Xs also have standard roof rails, making it easier to secure items on top.
Kia pushes the X-Pro's capabilities further in a few key areas. It has 18-inch wheels and Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires versus the X-Line's 20-inchers with all-seasons. The X-Pro also gets revised traction-control software that Kia says improves its off-road performance. Additionally, a more powerful cooling fan increases the X-Pro's maximum towing capacity by 500 pounds to 5500.
X-Line and X-Pro Get Tough
The X-Line get-up is offered on the EX and SX trim levels. It costs $2195 on the EX and $1395 on the SX, with starting prices of $46,820 and $50,220, respectively. There's also a top-trim SX-Prestige version for $53,120. The Telluride's driving demeanor is the same regardless, and we continue to be impressed with this SUV's accurate steering, compliant ride, and taut body control. Its handling traits won't have you searching out back roads just for the fun of it, but its cohesive nature makes it feel a cut above its peers.
The X-Line SX-Prestige model we tested hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, making it slightly quicker than previous Tellurides we've sampled. That time may not be worth bragging about, especially when more powerful alternatives such as the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee L are quicker still, but the Kia never feels poky with a transmission that is well tuned and unobtrusive. It's much the same story with its 175-foot stop from 70 mph, 0.80 g of skidpad grip, and 68 decibels of interior noise at 70 mph, all of which are similar to what our 2020 long-term example produced when it was new.
With the addition of the X-Pro, the Telluride is more adventurous than ever. It's only offered with the SX AWD trim that starts at $48,825 and on the full-zoot SX-Prestige, which is now the priciest Telluride, starting at $51,725—X-Pro tacks on $2395 to each. To experience the X-Pro in action, our drive route outside of San Antonio included a makeshift off-road course. While the setting was no Rubicon Trail, the X-Pro's all-terrain tires and all-wheel-drive system, with its electronically locking center differential, helped it crawl over a rock bed and a couple of gnarly drainage ditches. Hill-descent control is new and standard on all '23 Tellurides, and it worked flawlessly to manage our speeds on steep downgrades.
When it comes to fuel economy, expect the 2023 Telluride to deliver similar results as before. Its EPA estimates are almost identical across the board, with front- and all-wheel-drive models earning the same 23 and 21 mpg combined, respectively. We weren't able to run the 2023 model on our 75-mph highway route, but a 2020 SX AWD version returned 24 mpg, matching its EPA figure.
Lonely at the Top
Inside, the Telluride looks and feels as resplendent as ever. Fit and finish remains excellent, and there's an array of attractive interior color options, including Navy, Sage Green, and Terracotta. The biggest update is a redesigned dashboard, with its restyled HVAC vents and trim that make way for a new interface, which, on upper trims, combines two 12.3-inch displays for the gauge cluster and the center touchscreen in a single unit. It's a tech-forward centerpiece that makes the Telluride feel more upscale. The updated infotainment system gives more screen space to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the inability to connect wirelessly is baffling. We'll continue to hope that an over-the-air software update fixes that in the future.
That miss aside, there's a reason we continue to tout the Kia Telluride: It's an amazing all-around mid-size SUV. It has been a big hit for Kia too, with sales ballooning by a whopping 60 percent through last year. The company sold 93,705 copies in the U.S. in 2021, and now it's raising production capacity to 120,000. The Telluride wasn't in danger of getting stale, but Kia has taken meaningful measures to keep its competition in the rearview mirror.
2023 Kia Telluride X-Line
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $46,820/$53,615
Options: SX-Prestige package (12.3-in digital gauge cluster, nappa leather seats, heated and ventilated second-row seats, Harman Kardon 10-speaker stereo, Highway Driving Assist 2.0, head-up display, digital rear-view mirror), $6300; Glacial White Pearl paint, $495
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 231 in3, 3778 cm3
Power: 291 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 262 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.4-in vented disc/12.0-in disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy LTX
245/50R-20 102V M+S
Wheelbase: 114.2 in
Length: 196.9 in
Width: 78.3 in
Height: 70.5 in
Passenger Volume: 151 ft3
Cargo Volume: 21 ft3
Curb Weight: 4469 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.8 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.1 sec @ 94 mph
100 mph: 17.2 sec
130 mph: 38.3 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.3 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.6 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.6 sec
Top Speed (C/D est): 132 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 175 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.80 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 19 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 21/18/24 mpg
This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.