Expert Reviews

2023 Kia Telluride Review and Video

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

The Kia Telluride has always been one of my favourites in the three-row SUV segment.

It’s also a repeat winner in the AutoTrader Awards, so not only is it a personal favourite, but our jury of experts is also impressed and feels confident recommending it to their own family and friends. With a slight refresh, the 2023 Kia Telluride looks mostly the same, but it gets a few good upgrades to make this award-winning SUV even better than it was before.

Style: 9/10

The Telluride’s boxy design is one of its highlights, and I’d argue that this SUV is one of the best looking in its segment. It has a strong presence on the road and it blends ruggedness with the upscale vibes Kia is going for. The X-Line trim tested, which is new for this year, adds some more rugged touches like slightly higher ground clearance, unique wheels, and dark trim for the grille, roof rails, window surrounds, side mirrors, and more.

Inside, the optional brown leather ($250) in this trim makes it look upscale and adds some visual warmth to the cabin. The quilting and faux wood trim add some texture and even some of the hard plastic is colour-matched perfectly to the leather so it doesn’t look cheap.

Practicality: 10/10

Last year, I took a Kia Telluride just like this on a cottage road trip and was impressed by how easily it tackled all the family challenges. Not only did it fit a week’s worth of provisions for four people with room to spare, but the whole experience was frictionless. There wasn’t a single moment where it didn’t do exactly what I needed it to do.

The tailgate is hands-free and will open automatically if it senses you standing close by with the key, which is helpful so you don’t have to put down what you’re carrying or kick at a sensor beneath the bumper. The tailgate also closes on its own when you walk away from it.

In the trunk, there’s 601 L of space behind the third row, 1,304 L behind the second row, and 2,455 L with both rear rows folded flat. That’s massive without even taking into account the huge underfloor storage area. The trunk’s low liftover height, wide opening, and boxy shape also makes loading and unloading even easier.

The seats are also easy to configure. The third row folds flat manually, but there are buttons in the trunk to fold down the second row electronically, so you don’t have to walk around the car to each side to fold them flat. The second row slides forward and back to make more room for passengers or cargo, and the seats tumble forward easily with the press of a single button so people can get into the third row. It’s so easy that a child could probably do it on their own.

The doors open wide so it’s easy for kids to enter or for a parent to install child seats, and the doors extend beyond the rocker panels, so your pants don’t get swiped by salt and grime in the winter.

Inside, there must be a hundred cup holders and storage cubbies, which are great for holding all the random garbage and rocks that kids collect. The Telluride nails it in the practicality department.

Comfort: 7/10

While the brown leather upholstery looks great, the seats themselves are hard and uncomfortable. For short trips, they’re fine, but both my passengers and I noticed some soreness after a long drive.

Besides the firmness of the seats, passengers in all rows get enough space to be comfortable, even in the third row. Dan Ilika, AutoTrader’s 6-foot-3 Road Test Editor, was able to fit in the third row comfortably without his knees near his chest. The steering wheel and front seats in this X-Line trim are heated and ventilated, but it was a surprise to see the second row with these features as well. Other features like second-row sunshades and USB ports for every passenger ensure that even with the hard seats, the rest of their journey should be quite comfortable.

User-Friendliness: 10/10

Besides its practicality, the Telluride shines because of how straightforward it is to use. Almost everything is immediately obvious from the moment you get inside. One of the most significant upgrades to the 2023 Telluride is the huge new screen. The digital instrument cluster and the infotainment screen are now housed under a single panel of curved glass, so it looks upscale and cleans up the dashboard considerably. There are still big physical shortcut buttons for features you’ll use the most, all the menus in the touchscreen make sense, and there are no mystery buttons. I appreciate physical controls for the climate system and even the simple T-style gear selector.

Features: 9/10

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, but both require a wired connection, so this is perhaps the only feature the Telluride is missing. There’s also a wireless phone charger, but that becomes redundant because you have to plug your phone in anyway. I wish the smartphone mirroring was better integrated, so you could see navigation instructions from Google Maps, for example, in the instrument cluster or head-up display.

There’s a new camera-based rearview mirror, which is helpful when the trunk is stacked and your view is blocked. There’s also a 110-volt household outlet in the second row, which is invaluable during a family road trip or outdoor excursion.

Safety: 9/10

I’m impressed that Kia offers almost its entire suite of safety and driver assistance systems as standard for 2023, even on the base model. Even navigation-based adaptive cruise control is standard, but other highlights include automatic high-beam control, safe exit warning, speed limit assist, forward collision warning with junction assist that can warn of oncoming traffic when making a left, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The uplevel X-Line model tested adds blind-spot cameras and expanded capability for the forward collision assist to include more scenarios where it could warn you if there’s oncoming traffic you can’t see.

Powertrain: 9/10

The Kia Telluride is powered by a 3.8L V6 with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard and an eight-speed automatic transmission helps get power to the wheels. The SUV isn’t blazingly fast, but can pass other traffic easily and get up to highway speeds, even when it’s packed full of people and cargo, with little drama.

Driving Feel: 8/10

The Telluride feels smaller to drive than its big footprint might suggest. It’s easy to manoeuvre through parking garages, and even though it’s a large vehicle, it doesn’t feel cumbersome to drive. Although there’s a bit of a numb deadzone when the steering is on centre, the rest of the time the steering has a nice weight to it and it doesn’t feel too floaty. Meanwhile, great visibility and crisp top-down 360-degree camera views makes parking a breeze.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

The Kia Telluride is officially rated to burn 12.8 L/100 km in the city, 9.8 on the highway, and 11.4 combined. After about 575 km of mixed testing, the SUV returned 12.5 L/100 km, which is higher than I expected, especially because of all the highway driving I was doing. Last year during that family road trip, I averaged 9.9 L/100 km, so I was expecting better results during this test – even adjusting for winter tires and cold conditions versus last year’s summer weather.

Value: 8/10

The base Kia Telluride starts at $52,883 plus the $2,549 destination fee, but the X-Line model tested is an $11,000 upgrade. In total, the Telluride tested here rings in at $64,344 before tax. Kia used to be among the value picks in the segment, and while this Telluride feels worth its price, it’s now more expensive than many of its competitors.

The Verdict

The Kia Telluride was voted as the Best Midsize SUV in the AutoTrader Awards by our panel of more than 20 of Canada’s best automotive journalists for the third year running. Blending practicality with style, the 2023 Kia Telluride shines when put to work during a family road trip, but is also superb for day-to-day tasks as well.

Engine Displacement 3.8L
Engine Cylinders V6
Peak Horsepower 291 hp
Peak Torque 262 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 12.8 / 9.8 / 11.4 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 601 / 1,304 / 2,455 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row
Model Tested 2023 Kia Telluride X-Line
Base Price $61,195
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,549
Price as Tested $64,344
Optional Equipment
$500 – Jungle Green paint, $250; Terracotta Brown leather, $250