The Kia Telluride Is a “Range Rover for the Middle Class,” According to Car and Driver

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The three-row SUV segment continues to grow, and now it’s become more competitive. The Kia Telluride is not only impressive, but it also appears it may be quite hard to beat in more ways than one. It not only has great performance features, but it’s also affordable even at the top trim level. 

Car and Driver took one for a long-term test drive and shared what they thought about it after putting on 40,000 miles on the tester vehicle. What did they think about it? 

How does the Kia Telluride perform long-term?

Car and Driver has always liked Kia models. They’ve been reviewing the brand for quite some time, but they always seem to fall into the same pattern when reporting on its vehicles. They loved Kia’s stylish designs, its long list of standard features that its models get, and the brand’s affordability. 

But, they always had the negatives to share, which would include things like power steering calibration being off and the suspension wasn’t quite where it could be. However, their view of the Kia brand seems to have changed with the Telluride. 

This time, they had noted almost all positive points concerning their tester vehicle. The only negatives that they came up with weren’t all that bad in the light of things. One editor had noted that they didn’t care for the way the windshield wiper in the rear sprayed the solvent.

They reported that they were hard-pressed to come up with anything wrong with the vehicle, which means Kia has come a long way with them. The Kia Telluride itself comes across as being more luxurious than the price tag of Car and Driver’s tester vehicle would lead you to believe. In fact, the director of vehicle testing, Dave Vanderwerp, said, “Kia has built a Range Rover for the middle class”

Is the Kia Telluride like a Range Rover?

RELATED: U.S. News Makes the 2021 Kia Telluride a Winner Once Again

The Land Rover Range Rover and the Kia Telluride are from two different sides of the track. The Range Rover offers rugged capability and luxuriousness with a hefty price tag of up to and over $100,000. Kia’s Telluride offers much of the same as far as luxuriousness goes, and it has some ruggedness to it as well, even though it’s not meant for off-roading. 

However, the Telluride comes at a more affordable price. Car and Driver’s tester cost just $47,540. That’s the top-tiered SX model with the SX Prestige package, carpeted floor mats, all-wheel drive, and a towing kit. So, it is, in a sense, a Range Rover for the middle class. 

The Kia Telluride’s interior had leather-trimmed seating, faux-wood accents, and a fit and finish that was exquisite. The editors loaded lumber into it, had their kids snack inside it, and hauled their dirty dogs around, which didn’t harm the interior a bit. It was still as refreshing as it was brand new when their 40,000-mile test was over. 

How well does it compare with its competitors?

Kia offers a 3.8-liter V6 motor inside the Telluride, which produces 291 hp. Paired with it is an eight-speed automatic transmission. This combination enabled the three-row SUV to get an average of 21 mpg combined during Car and Driver’s tests. 

That’s more than what the Subaru Ascent and the Volkswagen Atlas got, which were around 20 mpg. The VW Atlas could get 24 mpg on the highway, while the Telluride can get up to 28 mpg. But, it didn’t quite meet the Mazda CX-9 and the Honda Pilot, which both get 22 mpg. 

Previously, Car and Driver always recommended the Mazda CX-9 for this class, but its cramped third-row and small cargo room would keep it from getting perfect scores. That changed when they started testing the Telluride. Not only did it check the boxes for chassis structure, and handsome styling, it also had comfortable seating for the third-row adult occupants as well as a large amount of cargo room, which is not something you see very often in this segment. 

The Kia Telluride does offer a lot of what you’d see with a Range Rover, and it comes in a refined package. Plus, it’s more affordable too.

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