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2021 Kia Telluride Pros vs Cons

Why Buy a 2021 Kia Telluride?
Reviewed & fact checked by
James MurdochNorman Ruckpaul

Are You Considering a 2021 Kia Telluride? Here Are Some Reasons For and Against

Ten Reasons Why The Kia Telluride Is a Good Buy, And a Few Reasons Why It Might Not Be

Since it first debuted in 2019, the Telluride has enjoyed a lot of positive attention. With this three-row SUV, Kia has given customers a stylish, reliable, and modern vehicle. The 2021 Kia Telluride feels upscale and comes with plenty of technology. It would be a great choice for anyone in the market for a spacious vehicle that handles well.

What's New for 2021?

Since the Telluride is a relatively new addition to the market, it makes sense that Kia hasn't made too many changes for its second model year. Mostly every mechanical component has remained untouched, and the cabin feels the same as well.

The updates for 2021 are mostly cosmetic. For example, the EX trim now has available LED headlights and there are two new paint colors (Black Copper and Sangria). The key fob now comes with an "On" button so people can easily turn on their engines remotely, and the trailer harness has been upgraded from a four-pin connection to a seven-pin connection. Finally, there's a new Nightfall package available to anyone who wants a bold, street-style appearance. It consists of several elements, to include a black grille and 20-inch wheels.

Ten Reasons You May Like the 2021 Kia Telluride – The Pros

1. Rev the Engine

The 2021 Kia Telluride is powered by a sizable engine that has great capability. With a displacement of 3.8 liters, the Telluride's V6 makes it a breeze to drive in a variety of situations. It packs a punch, with 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Plus, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, so people can have some flexibility in terms of hauling cargo. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which comes with a Sportmatic sports shifter for drivers who prefer the manual feel every once in a while.

2. Go Off-Roading

Available on all trims of the Telluride is an on-demand all-wheel drive system. It can monitor how the wheels are doing, and if any slippage is detected, power delivery can be shifted accordingly. For those times when all-wheel drive is desired on a continuous basis, there's a way to lock it in place. There's also a snow mode that's designed for the winter weather.

Even when the road is bumpy, the Telluride still offers a relatively smooth ride. It has a quality suspension system that can absorb some of the ups and downs one might encounter off the beaten path. With the top two trims of the SUV, a self-leveling rear suspension is available. This can make handling even more ideal.

3. A Range of Price Options

Because there are four Telluride trims, Kia has been able to accommodate a variety of budgets. The LX trim starts out at just under $32,000, and this is a competitive price considering the size, capability, and features that the Telluride has. The S and EX each come with a price jump of a few thousand dollars, and this is more than reasonable when factoring in their upgrades.

At the top end of the spectrum, the SX is priced at $42,190. This may put the SX out of the range of many customers, but certainly not all. In fact, it can be a good deal for customers who want luxury amenities but aren't prepared to fork over more than $50,000 for their next vehicles.

4. Ample Cargo Space

Sometimes, three-row SUVs don't really have a lot of space behind the back row of seating. This isn't the case with the Telluride, which has 21 cubic feet of storage room in the back. This is perfect for many people who are frequently on the move and have a lot of gear to transport. Folding down the third row creates 46 cubic feet of storage space, and lowering the second and third rows increases cargo volume to 87 cubic feet.

5. Stretch the Legs

Especially when going on long road trips, people need room to stretch out and feel comfortable. In the front row of the Telluride, there is 41.4 inches of leg room. In the second row, things are even roomier, with 42.4 inches of leg room. The third row is ideal for kids since it only has 31.4 inches of leg room.

6. Choose Your Cabin Configuration

The 2021 Kia Telluride can either come with accommodations for eight or seven people. The eight-passenger seating arrangement uses bench seats for the middle and third rows. The seven-passenger arrangement has captain's chairs in the second row. Some people prefer this layout because it makes the cabin feel larger and gives the second-row passengers a more comfortable place to relax. Note that the eight-passenger seating is found on the LX, the S and SX are built with the captain's chairs, and the EX gives people a choice of either.

7. Safety Comes First

Standard across all Telluride trims is an array of driver-assist systems. Automatic emergency braking can reduce the chances of hitting other vehicles, or pedestrians, in the Telluride's path. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert give drivers a better idea of who else is around them, and various systems can work to keep the SUV centered in a lane. There's even a driver attention warning function that can detect when the driver's eyes aren't looking at the road.

8. Stay Connected

The first two trims of the 2021 Kia Telluride have eight-inch touchscreens, and the top two trims have 10.25-inch touchscreens. Smartphone connectivity is standard, as is Bluetooth. Five or six USB ports (depending on the trim) have been incorporated into the Kia's cabin, allowing almost everyone to keep their devices fully charged.

9. Start the Engine Remotely

While most people don't necessarily need to have remote start, there's no doubt that it's a very cool feature. As mentioned towards the beginning of this overview, the 2021 Telluride has a button on the key fob that starts the engine. This is a very convenient function, and it also means that the climate control system can get a head start on making the cabin comfortable.

10. Premium materials

The seats in the LX and S trim are covered in Sofino synthetic leather. This material looks upscale and is easy to clean. The EX and SX get upgraded with leather seats, and a high-end Nappa leather material is available on the SX. Leather is found around the steering wheel on all trims and on the shift knob on the S, EX, and SX. Select trims have woodgrain interior accents to add to the interior aesthetic, and the SX has unique stainless-steel pedals and door sill scuff trim.

Reasons You May Not Like the 2021 Kia Telluride – The Cons

1. Not Very Efficient

With front-wheel drive, the Telluride earns an estimated 20/26 (city/highway) miles per gallon. Having all-wheel drive lowers mileage down to an estimated 19/24 miles per gallon. These numbers aren't great by any measure, especially in comparison to the many hybrids that are widely available.

2. Boxy Frame

The exterior style of the Telluride is appealing to some, but not all. Some people may be turned off by how boxy and upright the Telluride's frame is.

3. Only One Engine

In many ways, the new Kia Telluride looks and acts like a luxury SUV. One difference, though, is that many luxury brands offer more than one engine choice with their vehicles. Unfortunately, the Telluride only has one engine. It has more than enough capability, but the fact remains that it might not appeal to people who want something with more than 300 horsepower.

4. Hills Can Be Tricky

While there is a hill start assist control function to help the SUV get moving when stopped on a slope, there is no counterpart feature. There are many SUVs in the market that have a hill descent system that controls the speed of the vehicle when traveling downhill. It can be very useful, considering that these vehicles are heavy and may sometimes be towing cargo. With the Telluride, people will just have to monitor their speed and carefully use their brakes when necessary.

How It Stacks Up to the Competition:

In a crowded market, the 2021 Kia Telluride still manages to stand out. Below, there are comparisons to two other SUVS that have similar features. A Honda and a Toyota have been chosen since these brands are perennial leaders in the automotive industry.

2021 Kia Telluride vs 2021 Honda Pilot

While these two models have similar powertrains and capabilities, the Telluride beats the Honda Pilot in several key ways. First, it has more second-row leg room than the Pilot does, and it also has more cargo room behind the third row of seats. Further, all-wheel drive is available on all trims of the Telluride. With the Honda, the base model doesn't have that option. Finally, the Telluride's technology package is much more attractive. Its base model has an eight-inch touchscreen and its higher trims have 10.25-inch touchscreen. In contrast, the Pilot's base model only has a five-inch color LCD screen, and the remaining trims have eight-inch touchscreens.

2021 Kia Telluride vs 2021 Toyota Highlander

The 2021 Toyota Highlander is fairly comparable to the Kia Telluride in terms of safety, technology, and performance. However, it's definitely more expensive than the Kia, and for some, this disparity is enough to point them in the direction of the Telluride. To provide some more clarity on the expenses, the base model of the Highlander is a few thousand dollars more than the base Telluride. Toyota makes many Highlander trims, and the most premium ones cost nearly $50,000.


There are many reasons why the Kia Telluride has quickly become one of the popular SUVs amongst those interested in having three rows of seating. It's been made with customers in mind, and it has convenient features and a reliable and strong powertrain. Its technology has been put in place to entertain, inform, and keep drivers and their passengers safe.

For 2021, there have been a few upgrades, making the Telluride even more attractive. Overall, this SUV comes with a lot of value, and it would a fun and practical vehicle to drive.

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