2023 Telluride. Image courtesy of Kia

Updated Kia Telluride Review: Tweaked. But is it Better?

Kia updated the Telluride for 2023, offering subtly different styling, larger screens, and two new trims that offer a higher ride height and off-road prowess.

What’s Good
Subtle tweaks to the styling keep the Kia Telluride contemporary and attractive. Smooth operating V-6. Plenty of space inside. Dig the heated and ventilated 1st and 2nd row seats.
What Could Improve
No longer playing the value card here, priced similar to the Honda Pilot. And the X-Pro off-road trim doesn’t go far enough to stay with the competition.
My Conclusion
Still quite stylish, the Kia Telluride also provides plenty of connectivity and screens and other creature comforts inside to make it a solid family crossover SUV.

OVERVIEW

Kia updated the Telluride for the 2023 model year, tweaking front and rear styling outside and increasing screen sizes inside. New, more off-road friendly trims complete the update. But the Telluride still runs on the original platform, which debuted for the 2020 model year. And power still comes from a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V-6. Not a bad thing.

What’s new?

The biggest news of the 2023 Kia Telluride are the additional X-Line and X-Pro trims. Or sub-trims, to be precise. The X-Line comes on the EX, SX, and SX Prestige trims (Kia does not offer it on the base LX and one level up S trims). X-Line versions get a 0.4-inch ground clearance lift—from 8.0- to 8.4-inches—raised roof rails, and downhill brake control. And it costs an extra $1395.

Kia offers the X-Pro only on the SX and SX Prestige trims. X-Pro includes everything on X-Line and then adds 18-inch wheels (instead of 20s) with all-terrain tires mounted on them, and a 10 percent increase in towing capacity. The 2023 Telluride’s towing capacity for all other trims and powertrains is 5000 pounds, so the X-Pro makes it 5500 pounds. Not a huge change, but a bit of insurance for slightly heavier loads.

2023 Telluride Off-road Experience. Image courtesy of Kia
2023 Telluride Off-road Experience. Image courtesy of Kia
X-Line and X-Pro trim’s Purpose

The trend toward more off-road friendly, indeed off-road capable, in every vehicle taller than 60 inches continues. And Kia couldn’t resist any more than the others. The question remains, are X-Line and X-Pro trims off-road enough? In a word, no. But in anther word, yes.

Hear me out.

For crossover SUVs for families, the vast majority of “off-roading” will top at finding a spot at the lumpy dirt parking area before shopping for pumpkins. But they want the label and look. For them, yes.

But for those families looking to truly venture “away from it all” The lack of skid-plates and the only so so clearances will be limiting. Not to mention the all-wheel-drive system lacks the mechanical hard wear to get out of any serious jams. For this albeit smaller group, no.

don’t mess with success

Ultimately though, little changed with the Telluride and that’s a good thing because it’s a sharp and practical utility. The structure feels stiff and strong beneath you, which allows the suspension to do its job well. Although, the Telluride rides slightly stiffer than you might expect. The cabin, on the other hand, surpasses expectations, keeping both wind and road noise to a minimum.

Moreover, the naturally aspirated, 3.8-liter V-6 carries on, which proves a nice departure from the trend to downsize the engine and add turbochargers. Kia instead employs the more efficient Atkinson cycle for combustion to manage respectable fuel economy, 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, 21 combined.

2023 Telluride. Image courtesy of Kia
2023 Telluride. Image courtesy of Kia

But, critically, the engine delivers that power quietly, with a nice linear progression with added throttle and decent response to your right foot. And the eight-speed automatic transmission bolted to to back generally does a good job to select the correct gear. It also offers a nice and wide ratio range to provide both quick starts off-the-line and nice and low engine speeds while cruising.

Adults sit comfortably in the both the first and second rows (the third row is best to leave to the kids). And the Telluride provides plenty of cupholders, charge ports, and other amenities for the modern family.

in conclusion

The Kia Telluride proved popular as soon as it launched in 2020. And these updates give me no reason to think that will change. It’s handsome and useful. But I do question whether these mild off-road sub trims will do much to sway the off-roading enthusiasts with families.

Base price of a front-wheel-drive Kia Telluride LX starts at $37,355. And my test car with all-wheel-drive along with all those bells and whistles requires more than $54,000 to leave your bank account. But for this much comfort and space, I’d still call it money well spent.

Learn more about the Kia Telluride here

COMPETITORS
Honda Pilot
Hyundai Palisade
Mazda CX-90

SPECIFICATIONS
2023 Kia Telluride SX Prestige X-Line: 5-door, 7-seat, Crossover SUV

Base price: $53,350
Price as tested: $54,070

Powertrain:
Engine: 3.8-liter V-6
Power: 291 horsepower at 6000 rpm
Torque: 262 lb.-ft at 5200 rpm
Transmissions: eight-speed automatic transmission
Drive: all-wheel-drive

Dimensions
Length: 196.9 inches
Width: 78.3 inches
Height: 70.5 inches
Wheelbase: 114.2 inches

Weights and Capacities
Curb weight: 4524 lbs.
Interior volume: 178 cu ft (passenger and cargo)
Cargo volume (3rd/2nd/1st) rows up: 21/46/87 cu ft

Performance
Calculated weight to power (lbs./HP): 15.5:1
Mfr’s claimed 0-60 mph: NA seconds
Mfr’s claimed Top Speed: NA mph

Test Car Options:
Wolf gray paint, $495; carpeted floor mats, $210

Another three row SUV worth checking out is the new generation for 2023 Honda Pilot.

2023 Telluride Off-road Experience. Image courtesy of Kia
2023 Telluride Off-road Experience. Image courtesy of Kia

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