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2021 Ford Explorer vs Kia Telluride

2021 Ford Explorer vs Kia Telluride
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2021 Explorer vs Telluride - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

The 2021 Ford Explorer and Kia Telluride have redefined the traditional SUV experience, with each car offering its own unique approach to family-friendly design. The dependable yet powerful Explorer appeals to buyers looking for a practical ride that will tow them through their everyday life journey, while the eye-catching minivan style of the Pilot creates an exciting new option for those willing to try something fresh. Whether you're into tried and true functionalities or craving some extra excitement - both cars guarantee top notch results!

The Powertrain

The 2021 Ford Explorer offers three different powertrains. Its base turbo four-cylinder engine develops a more than fulfilling 300 horsepower. Drivers who need more performance can step up to a twin-turbo V6 engine. While the standard version develops 350 horsepower, Ford tunes the high-output ST model to crank out 400 horsepower. Every new Explorer makes use of a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The 2021 Kia Telluride is built with power and purpose. It has a 3.8-liter V6 engine powering up this SUV, delivering 291 horsepower that shifts smoothly through an 8-speed automatic transmission for dynamic performance on the road ahead.

Expect the Explorer to offer quicker acceleration. While the Explorer clocks a 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds, the Telluride recorded a 0-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds. Driving enthusiasts will especially love the high-performance Explorer ST’s gutsy acceleration. When launched from a standstill, it’s capable of hitting 60 mph in as quick as 5.4 seconds.

Despite the Explorer being a quicker and more powerful SUV, the Telluride actually offers a more pleasing driving experience. Its excellent transmission and polished engine ensure a relaxing commute. Some test drivers have noticed that the Explorer’s base engine has an uneven power delivery around town. Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission is also not quite as good.

The Telluride cruises the roads in confident style, razor-sharp body control and Grip Control technology keeping it firmly planted. The Explorer can struggle to keep up when taking on tighter curves due to its standard setup; though those looking for an edge may opt for the ST trim's sportier suspension tuning which helps enhance grip.

When it comes to hauling, the Ford Explorer leaves its Kia counterpart in the dust. With a standard engine, this SUV can tow up 5,300 pounds and even more with an available upgrade - maxing out at 5,600 pounds! On the other hand, while still impressive on its own right; The Telluride's maximum capacity weighs in at only 5k.

In terms of fuel economy, the Explorer returns up to an EPA-calculated 21 mpg town/28 mpg freeway. This is an above-average rating for the segment. As expected, efficiency drops with the more powerful engine. Drivers can anticipate getting around 18 mpg town/26 mpg freeway. Meanwhile, fuel economy estimates for the Telluride stand at 20 mpg town/26 mpg freeway. Luckily, both SUVs are tuned to develop full power using regular unleaded gas.

All-wheel drive is optional on these vehicles. While the Explorer isn’t the most rugged model in the segment, it can topple a muddy trail. This is good news for families who prefer an outdoor lifestyle. The Telluride can also handle a camping trip. Activating the Telluride’s AWD lock mode gives you greater traction in the mud and snow.

The Telluride and Explorer ST are two standout SUVs when it comes to stopping power. The former has garnered praise from reviewers for its fine control of speed, while the latter's performance brakes make them ready-made for tackling tougher terrain with ease - even as they heat up in action!

The Kia Telluride has proven its dependability, earning a 3.5 out of 5 score - significantly higher than the Ford Explorer's 3.0 rating. Drivers will also enjoy unbeatable peace-of-mind with an impressive 100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper coverage from Kia – far exceeding what Ford offers in terms of protection!


With its performance-tuned suspension, the 2021 Ford Explorer ST offers a firm ride - but for those looking for ultimate comfort on roads and highways alike there's only one choice: The Kia Telluride. This sleek SUV has scooped up praise from automotive professionals everywhere as it provides an unparalleled driving experience in the midsize segment – making any journey truly luxurious.

The Telluride is the perfect companion for family road trips, offering one of the quietest experiences in its class. With a dual-wall dashboard and multiple soundproofing features, this SUV's cabin seals out outside noise even at 70 mph on highways - creating an unforgettable journey that’s as tranquil as it is memorable. And according to several writers and journalists, car tests show that compared to other vehicles such as the Explorer, you won't be able to find more peaceful travels than with your trusted Telluride by your side!

Both of these SUVs prove to be very accommodating family vehicles. Passenger comfort is clearly a big emphasis. While the Explorer seats up to seven people, the Telluride can handle up to eight passengers.

The Telluride does provide the most space to stretch out. It has a total passenger volume of 157.1 cubic feet, which outclasses the Explorer’s total passenger volume of 152.7 cubic feet. When sitting in the Telluride’s second row, occupants will have an extra 3.4 inches of legroom. Taller folks will be especially thankful for the additional space. However, there is more legroom in the front of the Explorer.

From a standpoint of overall seat comfort, the Telluride takes the lead. Excellent cushioning helps passengers to remain comfy on long rides. While the Explorer’s seats get the job done, some testers say they lack suitable support. However, driving enthusiasts will enjoy the Explorer ST’s sport seats.

The Kia Telluride is the optimal choice when traveling with a crowd. It offers 21 cubic feet of cargo space, ideal for packing up all your extras. And its smart liftgate provides sleek convenience: no more fumbling around for keys or hunching down to open the tailgate - simply approach it and watch as the door lifts automatically! The Ford Explorer also has plenty of room in tow (18 cubic feet) and an extra boost if you fold down that third-row seat; but don't forget about that hands-free foot swipe feature – perfect when both arms are full!

Drivers will appreciate the Ford Explorer’s good forward visibility. However, rearward visibility is not the best. Ford’s optional blind-spot monitoring system is highly recommended. Large windows help the Telluride to offer slightly better outward visibility.

Many drivers will be interested in which SUV has the better infotainment system. Ford’s SYNC interface gets high marks for its clear graphics. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with full smartphone integration comes standard. While buyers can upgrade to a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen, it’s not as easy to operate.

Kia’s UVO infotainment system is a powerful resource for drivers, with its easy-to-navigate menu and user controls. For those who want even more control at their fingertips, the optional 10.2 inch touch display provides split screen capability: allowing users to drive while simultaneously enjoying both navigation maps and favorite apps!

The Telluride SUV offers parents a great way to stay connected with their children - the optional intercom system! When those long car rides start feeling dull, you can keep your kids entertained without fighting for their attention by activating the rear entertainment and video game systems. With this feature, conversations are just fingertips away!

A head-up display is also exclusively offered on the Telluride. By projecting the speedometer’s information onto the lower windshield, it further minimizes driving distractions. No longer will drivers need to take their eyes off the road.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


In terms of passenger safety, the 2021 Kia Telluride scores well. It receives a five-star overall safety rating from the federal government. Last year, this SUV was also chosen as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

While the 2021 Ford Explorer also earned an NHTSA five-star overall safety rating, it actually recorded better crash scores. In fact, the Explorer received a perfect rating in every major crash test. Another highlight is the SUV’s IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

Both SUVs come standard with in-demand safety features. Among these helpful driving aids include pre-collision braking, blind-spot warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. While a traditional backup camera is standard, buyers can opt for a surround-view camera.

Some safety technologies are only offered on the Telluride. Kia’s rear-seat reminder system ensures that busy drivers don’t forget about children and pets. Drivers will also love Kia’s blind-spot camera system, which shows live video of vehicles approaching from the rear.

There are also some exclusive driving aids on the Explorer’s list of options. City dwellers will want the Explorer’s advanced parking system, which can automatically steer you into parallel and perpendicular parking spots. Meanwhile, evasive steering assist helps drivers to safely dodge obstacles.


Prices for the new 2021 Kia Telluride start at around $32,000, which is reasonable for such a well-equipped SUV. Meanwhile, Ford lists the 2021 Ford Explorer with a starting MSRP of $33,000. Common standard features include a color touchscreen with smartphone integration, remote start, and satellite radio. The Explorer also adds a Wi-Fi hotspot and tri-zone automatic climate control.

While the Explorer may provide a few more standard conveniences, synthetic leather upholstery gives the Telluride’s cabin a more luxurious feel. Buyers can also take advantage of Kia’s much longer warranty.

Drivers who seek the most luxury will be choosing between the Telluride SX and the Explorer Platinum. While the Explorer Platinum demands $59,000, prices for the Telluride SX start at a more affordable $42,200. There’s no overlooking the Telluride SX’s superior value. Furthermore, only the Telluride SX offers optional heated and ventilated second-row seats.

Which is Better?

The Ford Explorer is a classic vehicle, but this year's model may have met its match against the Telluride. With several features that outrank the 2021 Explorer, it looks like Kia has hit another home run!

For drivers looking for a serious performance boost, the high-powered Explorer ST is an obvious choice. But if you're not after maximum power and instead prefer smoother driving dynamics then look no further than the Kia Telluride - perfect for those who don't need to venture off road very often!

Whether one chooses the Explorer or the Telluride, their family and friends can travel in complete comfort. However, the Telluride’s interior style and quality are a step above. Greater rear legroom also gives the Telluride an edge over its American rival. Both of these midsize models have an eye-catching exterior. However, the new Telluride looks especially bold. It truly dominates the road.

Whether you're driving an Explorer or a Kia SUV, safety is top of the line. With exceptional crash protection and automatic emergency braking plus blind-spot monitoring come standard in both rides, you can cruise with confidence no matter which way your journey takes you.

The 2021 Kia Telluride proves victor in this head-to-head matchup against the popular Ford Explorer. Offering incomparable value and a sleekly designed cabin, it's no surprise that drivers are choosing Telluride over its competitor – especially with added features like outstanding driving dynamics! Of course, those who desire something more thrilling can opt for the performance beast of an SUV: The Explorer ST.

Used 2021 Ford Explorer: