2024 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line V6 AWD review by Ben Lewis

Kia and its sibling Hyundai have been on a roll for a while now. Lately, itʻs been establishing a big footprint in the EV world with the Kia EV6 and the all-new Kia EV9 3-row SUV, along with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 an Ioniq 6.

But we think the thing that really got the ball rolling for Kia was back in the 2020 model year, with the then all-new Telluride. Here was a 3-row SUV that was taking on everyone from the Japanese makers to the Domestics, Europeans and Luxury makers – and beating them all at their own game. 

So now after 4 years, how does Kiaʻs big SUV stack up? Letʻs see!

Big and Bold

The Telly got a refresh last year, and it takes an already rugged vehicle and adds even more presence. Up front, a revised vertical headlamp design, larger grille and reshaped fascia really makes traffic move out of the way! Our X-Line added to the menace with a minimum of chrome and a X-line exclusive blacked-out grille and lower fascia.

The profile remains the familiar big box design, while blistered fenders and blacked out wheel wells offer some off-road cred. X-lines add to the impression with body-color door handles and raised bridge-type roof rails. To our eyes, the best part of the big Kiaʻs profile are the massive blacked-out 20-inch alloys – you ride tall and look confident.

Like the front, the rear also got a new fascia and redesigned taillights. The effect is slightly cleaned up, but still capable and strong. Our favorite part of the exterior has to be the Wolf Gray paint, a cement-like color that looks modern and fresh, and perfectly offsets the new KIA graphics front and rear. It all adds up to one handsome vehicle.

Large and Luxurious

While the exterior hints at roughing it, inside, youʻre in the large lap of luxury.

Open the door, and our tester greets you with the rich smell of Nappa leather seats with a beautiful cross stitched pattern. Both the front and 2nd row captainʻs chairs are heated and ventilated. The driver seat has this very cool lumbar support stabilization system, which every 30 or 60 minutes (your choice) automatically adjusts to reduce back pressure and even gives you a little massage thrown in. Excellent!

While youʻre getting masseused, you can take in the handsome dashboard, with a wide horizontal setup that really sells the width of the interior. Last year, the Telluride received a curved dual digital display with 12.3-inch gauge cluster and 12.3-inch digital display. Itʻs a setup that makes any of the competitionʻs “tablet” style displays suddenly look old.

Speaking of looks, our tester had the whole visibility thing nailed with a useful headup display, handy 360-degree bird-eye view monitor and blind spot warning.  

A treat for the ears as well as the eyes, our tester enjoyed a premium Harman/Kardon audio system and added goodies like “X-Line” embossing on front seat upper backrest,

 Tri-zone climate control, memory driver’ seat and wireless charging. Spoiled, and loving it!

While we like the driverʻs seat, the spacious 2nd row captainʻs chairs are ultra comfy and with class-leading 2nd row legroom gives you limo-style space to kick back. Thereʻs even room for adults in the 3rd row – at least for shorter trips, and cargo space is good with the third row up, huge with the third row folded, and gargantuan with the 2nd row folded as well.

As Capable as it is Comfy

Driving the Telluride gives another clue as to why they are so popular. While many competitors are going for turbo or hybrid 4-cylinders like the Mazda CX-90, the big Kia features a 3.8-liter gas V6, that pumps out a strong 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. While the max torque comes higher up in the rev range than some turbo engines, itʻs no penalty, as the V6 loves to rev and sounds great doing so. A combined EPA rating of 20 mpg seems quite good for such a large vehicle with a strong powerplant.

Helping to give Mr. T sparkling acceleration is a standard 8-speed automatic, and with the driver selectable mode in Sport, the big SUV jumps off the line and feels sport-sedan responsive to your foot.

The steering is also noticeably precise with a nice heft, the brakes have excellent feel and with our testerʻs optional AWD, grip is excellent, whether youʻre driving through the rough stuff, or just zipping around your local drive.

Itʻs a very pleasant surprise that although this is a large vehicle it drives and feels smaller, making it easy to manuever and park. We also liked the ride, comfortable but not overly soft or wallowy. A well-heeled SUV that makes easy work of long distances.

Those feeling like putting this workhorse to work will appreciate up to 8.4-inches of ground clearance, while the 5,000 lb. towing capacity means itʻs easy to bring along the toys.

Kia and Hyundai have been very proactive in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, and the X-Line has an arms-length long list of standards including Forward Collision Warning with Cyclist and Junction Turning, Blind Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Safe Exit Assist on top of all the usual suspects. We will say that we found all these systems on the Kia work exceptionally – you feel well looked after.

Big SUV Big Price?

Hereʻs the other part that has made the Telluride such a big hit – great value. A two-wheel drive, 8-passenger LX starts at $35,990. For a stylish, roomy and capable 3-row SUV thatʻs a bargain.

Our SX Prestige X-Line AWD ticks off just about every box you could think of, and starts at $52,185. Add to that $495 for the handsome Wolf Gray paint and $495 for assorted floor mats and cargo covers, plus $1,365 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $54,540.

The Honda Pilot compares well to the big Kia and comes in very close at $54,895, but we think the Telluride is a much stronger performer. (Pro tip – go for the less expensive Pilot TrailSport edition).

The new Mazda CX-90 is an excellent performer and matches the Telly for stunning interior design. With Mazdaʻs move upscale, the pricing has become an issue, though – a comparable CX-90 comes in at $61,900 a considerable step up. (Pro tip 2 – consider the CX-90 Plug in hybrid that we tested and enjoy just about all of the Turbo 6-cylinder goodness, but with a turbo 4-cylinder and an EV only range of up to 26 miles.

With itʻs rugged looks, huge interior, impressive luxury and smart value, the 2024 Kia Telluride remains our favorite all-around 3-row SUV.

Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.

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