Tested: 2023 Kia Telluride still at the top – car and driver | CarTailz

Being the best puts a goal on your back. The Kia Telluride has been our top mid-size SUV since its debut in 2020, without exception. The three-row Ute has earned three consecutive 10Best awards and has never lost a comparison, beating out challengers like the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander and even its corporate counterpart, the Hyundai Palisade. Rather than let its champion grow complacently, Kia continued to refine the Telluride for 2023, making it prettier, upgrading its spec and toughening it up.

Range Rover, uh, Kia Telluride

The updated Telluride is not fundamentally different. The 291-horsepower V-6, eight-speed automatic, and other mechanical parts remain the same. Its reshaped grille adds three-dimensional mesh trim, its front bumper has a more boxy design, and its revised LED headlights have two 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; On the other hand, this canvas already looked pretty good to our eyes.

The Telluride’s vaunted value proposition will take a hit for 2023 with prices ranging from $1700 to $2900, but its base price of $37,025 for a front-wheel drive LX model is still a hell of a deal. The upcharge for the new model year is largely offset by newly available content, ranging from a digital rear-view mirror and digital key (via key card or smartphone app) to advanced driver-assistance technology that allows Kia to automatically, at the driver’s request, to change lane. Also new are the X-Line and X-Pro trims, both of which have standard all-wheel drive, slightly larger approach and departure angles, and extra ground clearance (8.4 vs. 8.0 inches) compared to smaller models. The Xs also have standard roof rails, making it easier to attach items to the top.

HEIGHT: Influx of tech features, more capable off-road, looks even more Range Rover-esque.

Kia continues to push the X-Pro’s capabilities in a few key areas. It has 18-inch wheels and Continental TerrainContact off-road tires compared to the X-Line’s 20-inchers with all-season tires. The X-Pro also gets revised traction control software, which Kia says will improve its off-road performance. Additionally, a more powerful fan increases the X-Pro’s maximum towing capacity by 500 pounds to 5500.

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X-Line and X-Pro are getting tough

The X-Line trim level is offered on the EX and SX trim levels. It’s priced at $2195 for the EX and $1395 for the SX with starting prices of $46,820 and $50,220, respectively. There’s also a top-spec SX Prestige version for $53,120. The Telluride’s handling is the same regardless, and we continue to be impressed by this SUV’s precise steering, forgiving handling and tight body control. Its handling characteristics won’t make you look for back roads just for fun, but its coherent nature makes it feel superior to its peers.

The X-Line SX Prestige model we tested hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, slightly faster than previous Tellurides we’ve tested. It might not be brag-worthy this time, especially when more powerful alternatives like the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee L are even quicker, but the Kia never feels awkward with a well-tuned and unobtrusive gearbox. It’s pretty much the same story with its 175-foot stop from 70 mph, 0.80g skidpad grip and 68 decibels of interior noise at 70 mph, all 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, which starts at $48,825, and on the full-zoot SX-Prestige, which is now the most expensive Telluride, which starts at $51,725 ​​— X-Pro is $2,395 each U.S. dollar. To see the X-Pro in action, our itinerary outside of San Antonio included a makeshift off-road course. Though the setting wasn’t 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 bed of rock and a few knobby drainage ditches. Hill descent control is new and standard on all 23 Tellurides and worked flawlessly to control our speeds on steep descents.

LOWER: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are more expensive than before and still require cables that aren’t as quiet at highway speeds as some rivals.

When it comes to fuel economy, you can expect the Telluride 2023 to deliver similar results as before. Its EPA estimates are nearly identical across the board, with front- and all-wheel-drive models earning the same 23 and 21 mpg, respectively. We couldn’t drive the 2023 model on our 75-mile freeway route, but a 2020 SX AWD version returned 24 mpg, which matched the EPA number.

Lonely at the top

Inside, the Telluride looks and feels as gorgeous as ever. The fit and finish remain superb, and there are a number of attractive interior color options including navy blue, sage green and terracotta. The biggest update is a redesigned dashboard, with its redesigned vents and trim, making way for a new user interface that combines two 12.3-inch displays for the instrument cluster and center touchscreen into a single unit on the upper trims. It’s a technically advanced centerpiece that gives the Telluride a more upscale feel. The updated infotainment system gives Apple CarPlay and Android Auto more screen real estate, but the inability to connect wirelessly is confusing. We still hope that an over-the-air software update will fix this in the future.

That being said, there’s a reason we keep promoting the Kia Telluride: it’s an amazing mid-size all-around SUV. It was also a huge hit for Kia, with sales exploding by a whopping 60 percent over the last year. The company sold 93,705 examples in the US in 2021 and is now increasing production capacity to 120,000. The Telluride hasn’t been in danger of going stale, but Kia has taken sensible steps to keep its competition in its rear-view mirror.



2023 Kia Telluride X Line
Vehicle Type: Front engine, 4WD, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon

Base/as tested: $46,820/$53,615
Options: SX Prestige Pack (12.3″ digital instrument 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 injection
Displacement: 231 inches33778 cm3
Power: 291 hp at 6000 rpm
Torque: 262 lb-ft at 5200 rpm

8-speed automatic

Suspension, F/R: Struts/Multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.4″ ventilated disc / 12.0″ disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy LTX
245/50R-20 102V M+S

Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
Length: 196.9 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 70.5 inches
Passenger volume: 151 ft3
Cargo volume: 21 ft3
Curb weight: 4469 lbs

60mph: 6.8s
1/4 mile: 15.1 sec at 94 mph
100mph: 17.2s
130mph: 38.3s

The above results leave out a 0.3 second 1 foot rollout.
Rolling Start, 5-60 mph: 7.3 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.6 sec
Top gear, 80-110 km/h: 4.6 sec
top speed (CD est): 132mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 175 ft
Road holding, 300 ft skidpad: 0.80 g

Observed: 19 mpg

Combined/City/Highway: 21/18/24 mpg


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