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2021 Kia Telluride Review

The 2021 Kia Telluride ranks near the top of the midsize SUV class thanks to its pleasant driving dynamics, comfortable and spacious interior, user-friendly features, and long list of standard equipment.

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy seating and cargo space
  • Composed handling
  • Spry V6 engine
  • Many standard features
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Mediocre fuel economy

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Kia Telluride's #2 ranking is based on its score within the Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Kia Telluride has a score of 8.4 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 16 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.4
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 8.3
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.5 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Kia Telluride?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Kia Telluride a Good SUV?

Yes, the 2021 Kia Telluride is a great three-row SUV. The Telluride has an upscale interior, airy seating space for up to eight passengers, and a vast cargo hold. It’s loaded with active safety features like blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking, and it offers an easy-to-use infotainment system. The Telluride is comfy and relaxing to drive day to day, and its refined V6 engine zips this SUV around confidently. An above-average predicted reliability rating and Kia’s lengthy 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty only add to the Telluride’s appeal.

Why You Can Trust Us: 16 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 16 Kia Telluride reviews, as well as data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

This 2021 Telluride review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Kia Telluride?

You should definitely consider the 2021 Kia Telluride if you’re shopping for a midsize SUV. The Telluride is an exceptionally well-rounded SUV and a great value. Prices start at $31,990. This is a jam-packed segment, though, with many good options, so you may also want to check out competitors like the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota Highlander before you buy.

Find a 2021 Kia Telluride for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Kia Telluride: What's the Difference?

Kia launched the Telluride for 2020 as an all-new SUV. There’s only one key difference between the 2020 Telluride and the 2021 model. For 2021, Kia added a Nightfall Edition package that gives the SUV a sleeker appearance with black wheels and gloss black exterior accents.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Telluride »

Check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Kia Telluride Cost?

The 2021 Kia Telluride has a $31,990 starting price, which is about average for the midsize SUV segment. The Telluride’s highest trim level carries a $42,190 price tag.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Telluride Versus the Competition

Kia Telluride vs. Hyundai Palisade

The Hyundai Palisade has a lot in common with the Kia Telluride. Both of these SUVs share the same engine, transmission, and many of the same structural components. Both are also similarly sized, similarly priced, and packed with many of the same tech and safety features. The biggest difference is styling. Overall, the Palisade and Telluride are great options, and choosing between them may come down to personal preference.

Compare the Telluride and Palisade »

Kia Telluride vs. Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento is the brand’s other midsize SUV. Like its Telluride sibling, the Sorento has pleasant driving dynamics, three rows of seats, and quality cabin materials. Both models also offer the same user-friendly infotainment system. The Sorento is a bit smaller than the Telluride, resulting in less cargo space and a tighter third row. It also isn’t as well-equipped with standard safety and convenience features. That said, the Sorento has a considerably lower $26,990 starting price. If you have a slim budget, you may want to consider the Sorento first.

Compare the Telluride and Sorento »

Compare the Telluride, Palisade, and Sorento »

Telluride Interior: Your Chalet Shuttle Awaits

Telluride Cargo Space

The Kia Telluride has 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats, 46 cubic feet with these seats folded, and 87 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. That’s better than average for a midsize SUV, but competitors like the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas offer more room.

How Many People Does the Telluride Seat?

The Kia Telluride is a three-row SUV with eight seats. A seven-seat layout is available, and it swaps the second-row bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs. Regardless of configuration, the Telluride can comfortably seat adults in all three rows, a feat few other midsize SUVs can manage. The first- and second-row seats are supportive and supple. It’s easy to find a comfy driving position, and outward visibility is good in all directions. The third-row seats aren’t as soft or as roomy as those up front, but they’re fine for shorter outings, and getting in or out is a cinch.

Synthetic leather upholstery and manually adjustable front seats are standard. Power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front and second-row seats, and genuine leather upholstery are available.

Telluride and Child Car Seats

The Kia Telluride has three complete sets of LATCH connectors, two for the second-row outboard seats and one for the third-row driver’s side seat. There are also tether anchors for the second- and third-row middle seats.

Telluride Interior Quality

The Kia Telluride boasts a high-end and stylish interior that verges on luxurious. The design is clean cut and modern, and most surfaces are trimmed with quality materials, including leather, soft-touch plastics, and crisp metal accents. Unlike many competitors, the Telluride’s material quality remains high even in its base trim level. There isn’t much wind or road noise either.

Telluride Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Kia Telluride earns praise for its user-friendly infotainment system. The Telluride LX and S models come equipped with an 8-inch touch screen, while the EX and SX models have a 10.2-inch touch screen. Both systems respond promptly to inputs, and they offer a simple menu structure with crisp graphics. There are redundant physical buttons and knobs for the climate and audio controls as well, making these functions easy to adjust while driving.

Popular features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard in all models. There are also a few options that you may find helpful, including an intercom to help keep rowdy back-seat passengers in line and a quiet mode for the stereo that mutes the rear speakers.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, six speakers, HD Radio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and five USB ports
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.2-inch touch screen, navigation, an extra USB port, wireless device charging, an intercom, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo
  • Additional standard features: keyless entry, push-button start, and remote start
  • Other available features: dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, and a hands-free power liftgate

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Telluride Performance: Smooth Moves

Telluride Engine

The Kia Telluride is outfitted with a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is available. This V6 feels peppy and eager in everyday driving. It shuttles the Telluride around town and up to speed swiftly, and it provides sufficient passing power on the highway. The refined transmission shifts quickly and smoothly.

Telluride Gas Mileage

The Kia Telluride gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, which is decent for a midsize SUV. Fuel economy drops to 19/24 mpg city/highway for all-wheel-drive models.

Telluride Ride and Handling

The Kia Telluride may look big and imposing, but it drives like a smaller vehicle. The steering is quick and lightly weighted, and it’s easy to maneuver in and out of tight parking spots. The Telluride feels stable and composed through tight turns, and the suspension absorbs bumps and dips in the road comfortably – at least in models with the standard 18-inch wheels. The ride is a bit more nervous and jittery with the optional 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires, but not to the point of discomfort. Also, the brakes slow down this SUV confidently.

Telluride Off-Road Performance

The Kia Telluride has 8 inches of ground clearance, a front skid plate, and available traction control modes for handling slick and snowy conditions. It’s more than capable of traversing the occasional gravel road or seasonal access trail, but it’s not cut out for serious off-road driving.

Telluride Towing Capacity

The Kia Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about performance »

Telluride Reliability

Is the Kia Telluride Reliable?

The 2021 Kia Telluride has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Kia Telluride Warranty

Kia covers the Telluride with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Telluride Safety

Telluride Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Telluride an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The Telluride earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Telluride.

Telluride Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Rear-seat alert (helps to prevent kids and pets from being left inside the car)

Available advanced safety features:

  • Front parking sensors
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

Telluride Dimensions and Weight

The Telluride is about 16.4 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,112 to 4,482 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Kia Telluride Built?

Kia builds the 2021 Telluride in Georgia.

Which Kia Telluride Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Kia Telluride comes in four trim levels: LX, S, EX, and SX. The entry-level Telluride LX is a great option for most buyers. It’s well-equipped with standard tech and safety features, and it offers the same V6 engine and automatic transmission as the higher trims. That said, some features are limited to the upper trim levels, such as heated and ventilated seats, second-row captain’s chairs, navigation, and automatic climate control. Consider upgrading if these features are important to you.

Kia Telluride LX

The Telluride LX has a $31,990 starting price, and it’s outfitted with a 291-horsepower V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. Standard equipment and convenience features include an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, five USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, synthetic leather upholstery, second- and third-row bench seats (eight-seat layout), 18-inch wheels, and a front skid plate.

Standard safety features include a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, and a rear-seat alert.

Kia Telluride S

The Telluride S starts at $34,390 for front-wheel-drive models and $36,390 for all-wheel-drive models. This trim adds a sunroof, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, second-row captain’s chairs (seven-seat layout), and 20-inch wheels.

Kia Telluride EX

The Telluride EX starts at $37,390 for front-wheel-drive models and $39,390 for all-wheel-drive models. The EX gains a 10.2-inch touch screen, a navigation system, an extra USB port, wireless device charging, an intercom, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, rear sunshades, and a hands-free power liftgate. However, it trades the second-row captain’s chairs for a bench seat and the 20-inch wheels for 18-inch wheels. These features can be added back if you buy the $1,695 Premium package.

Two other option packages are available. The $1,295 Nightfall Edition package adds black wheels, a black grille, and gloss black exterior trim. The $795 Towing package adds a Class III trailer hitch receiver and a self-leveling rear suspension.

Kia Telluride SX

The Telluride SX trim starts at $42,190 for front-wheel-drive models and $44,090 for all-wheel-drive models. The SX trim includes the Premium package, plus a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, a panoramic sunroof, front parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The Nightfall Edition and Towing packages carry over unchanged. The SX trim is also available with a $2,300 Prestige package, which adds a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated second-row seats, a head-up display, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2021 Kia Telluride specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Kia Telluride offers a mix of refinement, practicality, and value that few other midsize SUVs can match. It’s spacious and comfortable for the whole family, it comes packed with rich materials and standard features, and its pleasant driving dynamics help take the chore out of the everyday commute. You can surely spend well over $40,000 or $50,000 on a great family SUV, but with the Telluride, you don’t have to.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Is the Kia Telluride worth it? Absolutely. In its first year of production, the Kia Telluride proved itself better than established rivals." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It’s a competitive market, but the 2020 Telluride is one of the best-looking models among its peers, and it offers up tons of interior comfort, amenities, and space." -- Automobile Magazine (2020)
  • "Nonetheless, the Telluride woos me -- the driving experience may not improve upon rivals, but it's also no worse. It is, however, more attractive, with a longer warranty and some cool new features -- and it very much deserves a spot on your midsize SUV shopping list." -- Autotrader (2020)
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2021 Kia Telluride

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