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The 2021 Kia Telluride Is a Great SUV With a Compromise

What sets the 2021 Kia Telluride apart from other vehicles in its class is its excellent value for money, nothing less.

Kia Teslluride is named after a small and beautiful Colorado village nestled in high elevation. The vehicle's design was sculpted in Irvine, California. Its assembly is made in a factory in Georgia. Despite being a huge South Korean conglomerate, Kia Telluride is almost as American as a can of Coca-Cola. Behind this Americanness lie deep reflection and a real understanding of the needs of the North American market.

The 2021 Kia Telluride, a mid-size SUV, is built on a unibody platform like the Hyundai Palisade, its cousin. But, beyond this observation, Telluride elegantly distinguishes itself by cultivating its own visual identity. Speaking of Hyundai Palisade, last year I did a review comparing the 2020 Palisade to the 2020 Telluride, showing the difference and vast similarities.

Since I talked about comparing the Telluride to its cousin Palisade, let me show you their trims and prices. The 2021 Kia Telluride trim levels are the LX, S, EX, and SX, from lowest to highest. On top of the 4 Kia Telluride trim levels, each has the choice of FWD or AWD. This week Torque News is test-driving and review the 2021 Telluride SX V6 AWD.

Here are the trims and prices of the 2021 Kia Telluride.

  • LX - $32,190 starting MSRP*
  • S - $34,590 starting MSRP*
  • EX $37,590 starting MSRP*
  • SX - $42,490 starting MSRP*

The fully loaded 2021 Kia Telluride is $50,180. For comparison, the 2021 Hyundai Paliside is slightly cheaper. The 2021 Palisade has a $32,525 starting price, which is about average for the midsize SUV class. The Palisade's highest trim level tops out at $47,750.

2021 Kia Telluride Rear Side View

The Telluride is equipped with standard all-wheel drive, which levels things up a bit and sets it apart from the 2021 Sorento. Despite this state of affairs, the mid-size SUV displays a truly luxurious character that transcends its price.

While Kia was lauded for its small cars just a few years ago, the Korean manufacturer is now the big SUV specialist. Despite its recent introduction to the market, the Kia Telluride is already very popular and seriously questions the competition because of its excellent value for money.

Kia's large SUV has everything it takes to really please. The 2021 Telluride is beefy, but it is nonetheless elegant. It is competent, spacious and functional, but it remains comfortable and benefits from some really good technologies. The audio quality, when connecting your phone, is excellent. The best part, however, is that the 2021 Telluride remains within the reach of most budgets. Unlike the majority of other manufacturers who try to sell their brand at a high price above all else, Kia as well as Hyundai and Genesis want to please consumers with products that are perfectly suited, affordable and above all without major shortcomings, because the first thing you might think of buying a Telluride is that you will have to come to terms with important compromises. Yet, far from it, this is not the case.

The Engine

As turbocharged four-cylinders continue to gain traction, the Telluride is the manufacturer's latest V6-powered model. With 3.8 L of volume, this direct injection engine offers 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque to convince. While these numbers seem rather modest, Telluride does not give the impression of lacking power. With an average consumption 21 MPG, 19 in the city and 24 MPG on the highway the Telluride is perhaps more greedy than the majority of vehicles available on the market, but when compared to other large SUVs from its category, let me tell you it is about the right average.

The Design

Being still young, we didn't expect Kia to bring us anything new for the 2021 Telluride, but it does. Additional Kia Telluride changes for 2021 include expanded paint color availability across trim levels, a remote engine start button on the SUV's key fob, LED headlights as part of the EX Premium Package, and an upgraded trailer towing harness to a 7-pin design.

2021 Kia Telluride Front Interior

As for the interior of the 2021 Kia Telluride, no major changes to be expected, but that's not much of a problem, since the current formula is already perfect. The biggest change is the addition of the Nightfall trim, which includes some blacked out goodies, special wheels and some other accents that are really going to make your Telluride stand from the rest of the crowd. Telluride offers several color combinations for the interior as well as different configurations. Like I said, it simply meets the needs of the majority of people in this category.

Interior Technology

Like the other models in the Kia range, the Telluride emphasizes its technological component to entice the buyer. We thus have as standard a latest-generation multimedia system encased in a large 10.25-inch screen well integrated into the dashboard. Tactile, it displays a quick navigation in the menus without a hitch and very intuitive. The GPS system is integrated at no cost, just like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are some rather original features, including a microphone system that amplifies the driver's voice for the rear passengers and a feature that deactivates the rear speakers to avoid disturbing the peace of mind of the passengers. Speaking of sound, the Harman Kardon system, which can be found in three of the four liveries, offers a halftone rendering.

I think the 2021 Kia Telluride is reliable, fun to drive and very competent SUV. What sets the Kia Telluride apart from other vehicles in its class is its excellent value for money, nothing less. Without being a symbol of comfort, the back seat of the Telluride can accommodate passengers of average height. Despite the presence of a bench seat in the rear, the Telluride offers 601 L of storage when opening the tailgate, a space that increases to 1304 L once the bench is folded down.

2021 Kia Telluride rear seats

The 2021 Kia Telluride proves that the Korean manufacturer has done its homework, even if it has never really offered a vehicle in its class. In short, the Telluride is already establishing itself with respect and gives us the impression that it has been on the market for several years, which is clearly not given to all new models. I heard that the average time the new 2021 Telluride stays at a Kia dealer lots is six days. That's how popular this vehicle has become.

Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.

Reference La Press, and Autoaubaine.


Dave (not verified)    April 1, 2021 - 4:15PM

Just purchased an LX model Telluride. The dealer added $2000 to the MSRP. Also refused to honor the Costco buyer's service discount. Apparently, this is standard operating procedure for Kia dealers with the Telluride.

Kathryn Hartsell (not verified)    June 16, 2021 - 9:11PM

In reply to by Dave (not verified)

I just put a deposit on a new, still being made, Telluride after over a week of obsessively calling dealers and finding that they are incredibly scarce, and some dealers are adding up to $15k to the sticker price. I ended up paying$2k over and fell like I got a bargain. We had decided on a used one, which had 17000 miles, and was priced $8000 more than the new ones! It's a bad time to try to buy a car.

Rd (not verified)    February 14, 2022 - 2:42AM

In reply to by Dave (not verified)

The practice of marking prices over MSRP is commonplace in a time of widespread shortages of new cars. This practice is not illegal or unethical; anyone is permitted to sell their goods for whatever price they wish. However it is your free choice to decide whether or not to purchase at the price offered. MSRP means manufacturers SUGGESTED retail price.

Vic Hardy (not verified)    February 14, 2022 - 12:42PM

In reply to by Rd (not verified)

Not illegal but arguably unethical imho. The car companies hate it for obvious reasons. They make no money on the markup and the practice sullies their brand with certain customers (like me). For the suckers that do elect to pay up to $18K over MSRP (plus over $3K in high profit dealer installed options), if they put 10% down and decide to sell the car a couple years down the road, they're under water and mad as hell.

I was ready to but but a $15K markup put me into BMW X5 territory so that's what I bought and I couldn't be happier. BMW (or Mercedes) do not mark up their cars. I'll never darken the doorstep of a Kia dealership again.

MJ (not verified)    March 14, 2022 - 11:30AM

In reply to by Rd (not verified)

Kia has since come out publicly and said Dealers should not include market adjustments and if this continues they will penalize Dealers. It’s clear to me that Kia interprets price hikes as unethical.

Sam (not verified)    April 12, 2021 - 12:12PM

"The 2021 Kia Telluride Is a Great SUV With a Compromise"

I read this article three times. What's the so-called compromise this author insisted on including in headline?

Vic Hardy (not verified)    July 9, 2021 - 8:00PM

In reply to by Matthew Fogle (not verified)

I think the compromise is the added dealer markup. My local dealer is adding $15K to an SX model, which gets it in BMW X5 territory. A dealership in Atlanta is only marking them up $7,500 if you can find one that hasn't already been sold before it arrives. This is a tactic that will undoubtedly cause ill will with some customers. I looked at Highlanders and 2022 Acura MDX loaded and with the Kia markup these are cheaper cars.

Victor Victor … (not verified)    April 29, 2021 - 9:22AM

Cringeworthy writing. So many spelling and grammatical errors. So much bad flow and composition. Some downright headscratching parts too. However the worst part is the misleading headline with zero follow-up in the article to tie it in. Sorry, the worse part is the incorrect information given about the trim levels. Who is going to trust this review when it does not match reality? No one.

Ben (not verified)    May 4, 2021 - 10:19AM

Armen or Torque News,
Spend some scratch and pay a fact checker and proof reader.
This is embarrassing.

Chris (not verified)    May 4, 2021 - 5:07PM

The name should be Calluaride. Brand new 2021 KiaNightfall with 11miles. Left the dealership, drove one hour on the interstate. Limped into the next Kia location. Dealer says it needs a new transmission, but I thought it was new. Got a loaner, and they offeted me money for food...not really what I expected in the new car experience. Second Kia. My daughters story, but no one should have to go through that.

Sheresa Exum (not verified)    May 18, 2021 - 4:52PM

AWD is not available on every model. And interior colors are very limited unless you’re at the top tier. I love the 2021 Kia but trying to find one with the EX package is tough and prices are jumping up because of popularity. And the Pallisade goes much higher than he’s saying...I looked at a Calligraphy model that was over $50,000 and I’m not sure it was the top trim. But I’d love to get a Telluride!

Lisa (not verified)    October 22, 2021 - 7:51AM

Al NJ dealers are adding between 10k to 12k to the MSRP!! NO DEAL! We will actually end up paying LESS for a Honda.

Joseph Chastain (not verified)    December 27, 2021 - 9:40PM

You forgot to add that Kia is adding a market available surcharge to the Telluride of 3000.00 to 10000.00.

Gary Kyte (not verified)    January 29, 2022 - 10:57AM

We researched the Telluride for over a year before purchasing an EX Premium 2WD version Feb 21. We loved the l[ks and all the reviews and like everyone else when we we went to the dealers in a 100 mile range no one had any. They ca)ed the Sellurides. We drove through rhe local dealer one day and saw two on the lot. Went for a drive and bought one 20 minutes later. We paid MSRP, we have had it for a year and put 14k miles on it. We LOVE it and are ge/ing better than avg MPG. On a round trip to Tucson we avg 27.5 MPG.