2021 Kia Telluride SX AWD

2021 Kia Telluride SX AWD

Looking for an affordable, attractive, and capable three-row crossover with an upscale cabin, decent performance, and lots of standard and available features? The 2021 Kia Telluride stands out as a well-rounded and reasonably priced entry among midsize crossovers.

Base Price: $44,090
As Tested: $48,720
Horsepower: 291
Mileage: 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined

The Telluride made its debut for the 2020 model year and became Kia’s biggest crossover. It’s a little bigger than the Sorento, Kia’s other midsize SUV. For 2021, a new Nightfall Edition package is added that adds exterior styling tweaks including 20-inch black wheels, a blacked-out grille, and gloss black exterior emblems and accents.

The 2021 Kia Telluride comes in four trims:  LX, S, EX, and SX. Starting prices range from $31,990 to $44,090. These are on par with other midsize SUVs, but the Telluride comes well-equipped with a long list of standard features. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is available on every trim.

There’s room for seven or eight passengers, depending on whether you choose a bench seat or captain’s chairs for the second row.

Every trim has the same engine: a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There’s plenty of power for everyday driving. Acceleration isn’t the snappiest—it’s similar to other midsize crossovers—but there’s plenty of smooth power for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The eight-speed has quick and smooth shifts. Steering and brakes are responsive. The Telluride feels planted when cornering although there is some body roll. Visibility is good all the way around. You can choose from four drive modes: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart. All in all, The Telluride is very pleasant and easy to drive.

While the Telluride does not have serious off-road capabilities, it can handle some light off-roading with its eight inches of ground clearance, and optional traction control modes that let you select AWD lock and snow settings.

When properly equipped the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Fuel economy is ok for the class. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21. I got 21 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The interior is high-end and spacious with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. It’s easy to forget that the Telluride is not a luxury vehicle. The design is clean and stylish, Materials look and feel good and most are soft-touch. My tester has the available faux wood and faux metal trim and it’s tough to tell that they are fake. Seats in the first two rows are comfortable and supportive with ample leg-and headroom for taller adults. The third row has less room and seats aren’t as padded but even adults will be comfortable there, a rarity for a three-row crossover.

Even the base LX trim comes loaded with features and tech. Standard features include keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, rearview camera, synthetic leather upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, five USB ports, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control, real leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, 10.2-inch touchscreen, navigation, 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, an additional USB port, wireless device charging, intercom system, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing front windshield wipers, and rear sunshades.

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

Available driver assistance technologies include front parking sensors.

Whether you have the standard eight-inch touchscreen or the larger 10.2-inch touchscreen, the infotainment system is easy to use with logical menus. It responds quicky to touch and voice commands. Physical knobs and buttons make it easy to adjust audio and climate.

The Telluride has 21 cubic feet of storage with all three rows of seating in place, 46 cubes with the third row folded, and 87 cubes with the third and second rows folded. That’s above average for the class. A hands-free power liftgate is available.

The good:

Near-luxury midsize SUV at a non-luxury price

Decent performance

Easy to drive

Attractive, upscale interior

Long list of standard and available features and tech

User-friendly infotainment system

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Fuel economy is just ok for the class

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $44,090. The SX Prestige Package is $2,300 and includes a head-up display, 110-volt inverter, Nappa leather seat trim, premium cloth headliner and sun visors, heated and ventilated second row seats, and rain-sensing front windshield wipers. The Towing Package is $795 and includes a tow hitch and self-leveling rear suspension. Carpeted floor mats are $210. The cargo cover is $155.

Bottom line:

If you want a lot of luxury features at a reasonable price, it’s tough to beat the 2021 Kia Telluride. It’s a great blend of performance, practicality, and style, comes with a long list of amenities, and has a very reasonable price tag. Anyone looking for a midsize three-row crossover should take the Telluride for a test drive.

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