Comparing Comfort & Capability – Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander

When you’re on the hunt for your next family SUV, there’s a heated matchup that often takes the spotlight – Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander. These two four-wheelers are some of the most popular picks on today’s market. But which one takes the crown when it comes to the blend of comfort and capability? Buckle up because we’ll unravel this enthralling face-off, peeling back layers of luxury, power, and innovation that each contender brings to the table.

The Telluride impresses with a lower starting price and superior warranty, backed by robust engine power. In contrast, the Highlander stands out for its fuel efficiency, especially with its hybrid models and comprehensive safety features. Ultimately, choosing between them hinges on individual preferences, balancing cost, power, fuel efficiency, and safety priorities.

Both of These Four-Wheelers Are a Popular Choice in the Three-Row SUV Segment

The three-row SUV domain has been a playground of relentless innovation and fierce competition for years. It’s a segment birthed and nurtured by the demand for space, comfort, and technology, the most important aspects of a modern family vehicle.

The towering view of the road these SUVs offer is more than a luxurious touch. It’s a strategic integration to enhance the driver’s confidence, be it on off-road terrains or along famous US routes. Combine that with comfortable space and cutting-edge technology, and you’ve got some of the top picks of the automobile industry, such as Kia’s and Toyota’s three-row SUVs.

The Telluride Might Be a Newcomer but It’s Become a Top Pick of the Category in No Time

The Telluride made its grand entry in 2020 and quickly ascended the ranks, offering a great driving experience without the high price tag. Though it might have lost the initial sheen of novelty, this four-wheeler has carved its niche. It holds its ground amidst evolving competition, including the Toyota Highlander.

For the past few years, the Palisade vs. Telluride vs. Highlander debate has been going strong, and for a good reason – these are some of the most impressive entries in the SUV category. Today, we’ll focus on just two of them, but keep in mind that the Hyundai Palisade should also be on your radar. But before we get into any more detail, here’s an overview of the trim-level options for these SUV giants:

Trim level options of Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander
Kia’s SUV comes in a wide range of trims, opening the doors to plenty of customization

Both SUVs Offer a Contemporary Spin on the Iconic Station Wagon Look

As we delve deeper into the aesthetics, it’s apparent that both vehicles embrace a contemporary revival of the iconic station wagon look. They blend the nostalgic allure with modern design elements, creating an aesthetic that will surely turn some heads while on the road.

Telluride’s Modern Flair Proves to Be Irresistible

Kia’s SUV has encapsulated the grace reminiscent of premium brands such as the Land Rover yet crafts an identity of unique elegance. The 2023 model year saw a refreshed exterior, and even since then, this four-wheeler’s aesthetics have proved to be pretty attractive to plenty of drivers around the world.

For those eyeing an enhanced touch, the X-Line or X-Line Pro packages available for select models sprinkle a dash of distinctiveness. They offer a raised suspension, exclusive exterior highlights, and all-terrain tires, further amplifying its charismatic presence.

Highlander’s SUV Creates a Bold Statement on the Road

The other contender unveils a blend of power and elegance. Its bold trapezoid grille, adorned with chrome touches, panoramic roof stretching across the three rows, and an enhanced sporty stature, distinctively mark its territory in the segment. This elegance woven with sporty undertones might not be for everyone, but some people will feel its magnetic pull.

Toyota Highlander on a parking lot
Toyota’s SUV features a more sporty look, but it all comes down to personal taste

Kia Telluride vs. Toyota Highlander – Sizing up These Four-Wheelers to See Which One Offers More Space

When the hunt is on for the perfect SUV, the size of the cabin undeniably tops the list of priorities. It’s not just about fitting as many passengers into the four-wheeler as possible but about providing a comfortable ride for everyone involved. Before we get into any more detail, here’s a size comparison:

Measurement2024 Kia Telluride2023 Toyota Highlander
Length196.9 in194.9 in
Height68.9 in68.1 in
Width78.3 in76 in
Wheelbase114.2 in112.2 in
Cargo Capacity21 cu/ft16 cu/ft
Seating Capacity88
*For the metric system, an inch is 25.4 mm

Both SUVs Offer Comfortable Seating for up to Eight Passengers

The newest models of these SUVs can comfortably house up to eight people, with configurations that are as flexible as they are spacious. With the option of a three-person second-row seat, some trims of both models also offer two plush captain’s chairs, creating a seven-passenger space for those who would prefer it.

The Telluride Offers Much More Cargo Space

While accommodating both people and their belongings was a crucial aspect for both of these giants of the automobile industry, Kia’s SUV takes the crown when it comes to cargo capacity. Offering up to 21 cubic feet of space with all seats up and expanding to a massive 87 cubic feet with the second row folded, it’s a clear winner for those whose adventures demand more room for gear and luggage.

Its counterpart offers 16 cubic feet with all seats up, matching the 87 cubic feet with the second row tucked away. The difference is not huge, but it’s still a notable consideration, so if cargo space is your top priority, there’s a clear champion in this segment.

Kia Telluride on a dirt road
Kia’s SUV takes the crown when it comes to cargo capacity

Which SUV Offers More Infotainment Features at the Base Trim Level?

In the world of modern vehicles, the infotainment system has grown to be more than just a feature – it’s an integral part of the driving experience. A rich, intuitive, responsive infotainment system can elevate the mundane to the extraordinary, making every drive an experience to relish.

Luckily, both SUVs in this battle are no slouches in this department. Each vehicle introduces a suite of standard infotainment options that are not only functional but intuitively woven into the driving experience. Their offerings, although comparable in richness and functionality, are tinged with unique strengths and weaknesses. To understand which infotainment package better suits your preferences, here’s an overview of standard features:

Standard infotainment features of Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander
It’s all about finding the infotainment system that better suits your needs

Both Four-Wheelers Are Some of the Most Reliable Picks of the SUV Category

When looking for a family city vehicle that’s also equipped for those adventurous escapades, safety ascends to paramount importance. Luckily, in this regard, both of our SUV contenders stand tall, each boasting a safety package that’s as comprehensive as it is innovative.

The Telluride Boasts an Upgraded Safety System as of the 2023 Model Year

Among the upgrades the 2023 Telluride got, there are plenty of noteworthy enhancements in its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Among the new features is the intelligent speed limit assist that not only detects the prevailing speed limit but also alerts the driver and adjusts the vehicle’s speed within set boundaries.

As of this writing, the 2024 model still awaits its assessment from safety authorities such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the preceding model’s commendable ratings definitely highlight the fact that this is a pretty reliable four-wheeler.

Toyota Equips All Trims With the Safety Sense 2.5+ Package

On the flip side, every 2023 Highlander trim level is armored with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, a formidable ensemble of electronic safety and ADAS features. The package is a blend of forward-collision warnings with an array of assistance features that transform driving into an intuitive experience.

This dedication to safety hasn’t gone unnoticed. The 2023 model basks in the glory of a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and wears the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ badge with pride. Such recognitions serve as a testament to its unwavering commitment to passenger safety.

Toyota Highlander on a road in a forest
Safety is the number one concern when you’re picking out your next family car

Toyota Highlander vs. Kia Telluride – Power, Handling, and Fuel Consumption

We’ve finally reached the real deal because now we’re venturing into the heart of these beasts. After all, the power, handling, and fuel efficiency can make or break the deal for potential car owners. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s pause for a moment and take a look at the main specifications of these SUVs:

Specification2024 Kia Telluride2023 Toyota Highlander
Type of Engine3.8L V62.4L Inline-4-cylinder Turbo
Power291 hp at 6,000 rpm265 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque262 lb/ft at 5,200 rpm310 lb/ft at 1,700 rpm
Transmission8-speed automatic8-speed shiftable automatic
DrivetrainFront-wheel drive (FWD)Front-wheel drive (FWD)
Fuel Economy20/26/22 MPG22/29/25 MPG

Now, let’s rev up those engines and take this head-to-head comparison through the most important performance aspects:

Engine Power

Kia’s SUV comes standard with a 3.8L V6 engine, serving up 291 horsepower and 262 lb/ft of torque. It’s a powerhouse, outshining its counterpart in this department. However, the Highlander is no slouch either – armed with a standard turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, it unleashes 265 horsepower and an impressive 310 lb/ft of torque.

Driving Experience

Driving the Telluride is a balanced affair. It may not set your pulse racing, but its handling is refined and agreeable. The steering is responsive and adjusts its feedback seamlessly, from the light touch in city drives to a more assertive grip as the pace quickens. Its adept maneuverability, accentuated by a tight turning radius, makes navigating even the cities with the worst drivers a breeze.

When it comes to Toyota’s SUV, the driving experience is characterized by composure and precision. It may not be the most exhilarating ride, but its accurate steering and minimal body roll ensure a smooth, controlled drive.

Fuel Consumption

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Highlander takes the crown because of two reasons. Firstly, the turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder engine outperforms its counterpart by a long mile, literally. Secondly, it offers a hybrid variant, boasting an impressive 36 MPG for the front-wheel drive and a slightly lower 35 MPG for the all-wheel drive.

The Telluride Emerges as the More Cost-Effective Option but the Price Difference Is Minimal

When it comes down to numbers, the Telluride makes an enticing proposition, with the base model flaunting a starting price tag of $36,000. The Highlander, while not far off, is slightly pricier, creating a subtle but potentially significant distinction for budget-conscious buyers.

Kia Offers Some of the Best Warranty Coverages in the Industry

Although the difference in initial cost isn’t staggering, when we layer in the advanced warranty options that Kia offers, the scales tip decidedly in favor of the Telluride. And speaking of warranties, it would be a missed opportunity not to cast a glance at the Hyundai Palisade.

Nestled comfortably in the same vehicle class, it mirrors some of the endearing attributes of both SUVs. It is renowned for offering one of the most competitive warranty covers in the industry, just like Kia’s four-wheeler. Therefore, my recommendation would be to expand this hunt a bit more and delve deeper into the Highlander vs. Telluride vs. Palisade comparison.

Hyundai Palisade car on display at a car show
Take a look at the Palisade as well – it might just be your perfect fit

Finding Your Perfect Match – It’s All in the Details

In this grand duel, each contender emerges with its distinct set of strengths and peculiar weaknesses. The Telluride draws allure from its cost-effectiveness and robust power, while the Highlander woos with its fuel efficiency and safety package. As we strip back the layers, it’s evident that the ultimate choice boils down to a dance of preferences and priorities. So, think about what you’re looking for in your next ride, and this will surely bring you a step closer to your perfect match.