September 28, 2023

Refreshed Telluride adds off-road feel in X-Line & X-Pro

Kia’s biggest SUV impresses in every way except fuel economy

The Kia Telluride enjoys massive popularity for its good looks and great warranty.

Because it does not happen very often outside of a pandemic, whenever an auto manufacturer admits they cannot keep up with orders, one should take note. In the case of the Kia Telluride, if you were not aware already, this is one mid-size SUV that is kicking butt and taking ... orders.

Since it arrived in 2019, the Telluride has been a huge hit for South Korean manufacturer Kia. In addition to offering Kia’s ground-breaking 10-year 100,000-mile warranty, the Telluride is a gorgeous SUV that starts at a base price of $37,025. This is just the start of great things to come.

Telluride is one level above the Sorento SUV and, offering three rows of seats, it is Kia’s largest SUV. The 2023 model gets a refresh that is worth looking at with updated front and rear fascia, notable interior tweaks, and two new off-road-themed packages in the X-Line and X-Pro, based on the SX and SX Prestige trims.

The X-Line delivers an 0.4-inch suspension lift, raised roof rails and downhill brake control; while the X-Pro model offers 18-inch black wheels, all-terrain tires and an upgraded tow rating to 5,500 lbs. My X-Pro had huge 20-inch alloy rims.

On the outside, the Telluride still looks contemporary and capable of hitting the trails. I really liked the new grille and additional rim options. At 4,378 pounds, the Telluride is plenty big and the addition of 8.4 inches of ground clearance gives it a bit more attitude.

My tester was the SX-Prestige X-Pro model with all-wheel drive. The X-Pro package is more of an appearance package than a performance off-road option. The minor off-road cladding and the knobby tires elevate the toughness a bit, while the X-Pro graphics on the seats and tailgate remind you it’s an X-Pro Telluride.

Cabin Features

Kia engineers were careful not to do too much to change what already was an award-winning cabin design. My tester offered power front seats and mirrors that create a perfect seating position for the driver. This is a spacious, well-thought-out interior that incorporates intuitive technology and high-quality materials.

Accommodating either seven or eight passengers with captain’s chairs or a bench seat in the second row, my tester featured the chairs and they were extremely comfortable with the same soft Nappa leather as the front row. Both rows with the SX Prestige are heated and ventilated. Opening up the cabin in my Prestige model was the dual-pane sunroof that felt like it traveled the entire length of the vehicle.

The new touchscreen, which features a new curved display, definitely elevates the entire interior and remains one of the best-looking variants in the class. For me, I like that you still get buttons and knobs for the stereo and climate controls. With them, there’s little learning curve and instant gratification in operating. The side-by-side 12.3-inch displays provide a clean stretch of access for the driver’s attention.


The Telluride’s powertrain is comprised of a tried-and-true 3.8-liter V6 offering 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission, my AWD Telluride tester was more than capable of handling most of my demands on short errands around town and harder pushes on the highway.

With an EPA Fuel Economy of 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, 21 combined, the Telluride does fall short in this category compared to several other competitors.

Overall, I felt the Telluride was nimble for its size. It offered a surprisingly precise level of turn into corners than I expected from something this size. This was a comfortable SUV that delivered outstanding feedback (even with the beefier treads) and a true feel for the driver on any paved surface.

Final Thoughts

The Tuelluride’s X-Pro setup is not a serious off-road package, but this three-row SUV is affordable and a genuine level above much of the competition. My SX-Prestige X-Pro model landed with all the bells and whistles at $53,785 before freight and handling charges.

For me, this is one of the best in the class and an impressive option for any family looking for three rows. The cabin is lush and features high-quality fit and finish throughout. Telluride will hold up to whatever a family can offer.

John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing, and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations, and vehicles.