But there's one improvement we'd make.
It was a revelation when it first arrived on the market in 2019. Now in its third model year on sale, the 2022 Kia Telluride shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the Telluride is still commanding above sticker price thanks to massive demand and supply shortages. We still believe the Telluride is the best bargain in its segment, ranging from $33,090 to around $51,000 fully loaded (if you can nab one at MSRP).
However, if a dealer slaps a $10,000 market adjustment on the sticker, which is not uncommon in this market, that puts the Telluride into the same territory as luxury models like the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60. After spending a week in a well-equipped SX Prestige model, we still believe the Telluride is the best vehicle in its class and a strong competitor even with a substantial markup.
There's only one change we'd suggest to make it better.
Calling a vehicle the "budget" version of a more expensive luxury model is typically a backhanded compliment, but we truly believe the Telluride looks like a Range Rover. Elements like the squared-off styling and "TELLURIDE" badging on the hood screams Range Rover without the insane cost. While some buyers will never accept Kia as a premium brand, the lines of people waiting for a Telluride suggest the Korean brand is doing just fine without them.
We particularly love the subtle changes for the 2022 model year, most notably the more premium Kia logo. Judging by spy shots out of Korea, the Telluride could receive more significant changes for the 2023 model year.
The Telluride's styling gets buyers in the door, but the interior makes them stay. Decked out in SX Prestige guise, the Telluride feels every bit as nice as luxury models like the MDX and QX60. This trim level gets Nappa leather seats that are heated and ventilated in the first and second rows. Even fully-loaded, those aforementioned luxury SUVs only have ventilation in the front row. Other premium touches include a lovely suede-like headliner, dual moonroofs, and comprehensive standard safety features.
We can't believe how much Kia can pack in the Telluride for under fifty grand. It makes us wonder why other brands charge so much more for less. Though we'd still give the edge to the Acura and Infiniti at sixty grand for their dealership experiences alone, the Telluride is easily the better value at MSRP.
It isn't just luxurious inside, the Telluride offers near class-leading space. Only the Chevrolet Traverse offers more capacity (98.2 cubic feet) without stepping up to a full-size SUV like the Tahoe or Suburban. Even with the third row up, the Telluride still offers decent trunk space. Drop down the second row, and it supplies a whopping 87 cubic feet of space. Passengers will be comfortable too, with sliding/reclining second-row captain's chairs and a third-row that's large enough for adults.
Kia's technology game is strong with a 10.25-inch touchscreen now standard on all Telluride trim levels. We love using this interface, though wireless CarPlay and Android Auto still allude the Hyundai Motor Group's largest screens. This is an issue that impacts the Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis brands, and we'd like to see it rectified in the next model year.
As for safety tech, driver attention warning, blind spot avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, lane following assist, smart cruise control, and highway drive assist all come standard even on the base model. The SX Prestige gets more cool features, including a 360-degree camera, blind spot view camera, and premium Harmon Kardon surround-sound system.
There's only one area where we believe the Telluride could be instantly improved: under the hood. Compared to other engines in this segment, Kia's 3.8-liter Lambda V6 is completely average. It produces 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft, both of which are perfectly acceptable for a vehicle of this size and price. However, we much prefer Kia's newer 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the Sorento. There it produces 282 hp, admittedly less than the V6, but with an impressive 311 lb-ft of torque. If Kia could tune the four-banger to produce a bit more power but keep torque the same, it would give the Telluride more grunt down in the lower rev range.
We'd also love to see Kia add an electrified option. The Kia EV9 Concept teased a future Telluride-size all-electric model, but it will likely take years to reach production. In the meantime, Kia should offer the Telluride with a hybrid variant to directly rival the Toyota Highlander. Though we prefer the Kia to the Toyota in most respects, the Telluride's 23-mpg combined figure pales in comparison to the Highlander Hybrid's 35-mpg average.