Is the 2023 Kia Telluride a Good SUV? 6 Pros and 2 Cons

kia-telluride-x-pro-2023-02-exterior-front-angle 2023 Kia Telluride | photo by Aaron Bragman

Wise people have often said that one should not mess with an already good thing, a piece of solid advice routinely ignored in the automotive world and everywhere else. Thankfully, Kia has chosen not to go that route with the 2023 Telluride mid-size SUV, instead staying close to the original winning formula — and that is a very good thing.

Related: 2023 Kia Telluride Review: More of a Very Good Thing

When the Telluride arrived as a 2020 model, it generated rave reviews and strong sales thanks to its combination of virtues, including plenty of room for families and their gear, a well-equipped and comfortable cabin, and a reasonable price tag — if you could find one that hadn’t already been snapped up by another eager customer.

For 2023, Kia has done little to change that, limiting revisions to cosmetic updates including a new grille, standard LED headlights, clear taillight lenses and not much more. There are also two new quasi-off-road trims with more rugged appearances. Beyond that, the Telluride remains largely the same. Perhaps the biggest news is that getting one may be easier, as the brand has increased production capacity at its assembly plant in Georgia.

Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman recently sampled two flavors of the 2023 Telluride and found it remains a worthy contender in the category with few faults. Hit the link above to read Bragman’s complete review. For a quicker look at six things we like about the 2023 Kia Telluride and two things we don’t, keep on reading.

Things We Like

kia-telluride-x-line-2023-35-interior-cargo 2023 Kia Telluride | photo by Aaron Bragman

1. New Off-Road (ish) Packages

New X-Line and X-Pro trims add a more rugged, blacked-out look and enhanced capability thanks to taller springs and shocks, resulting in an improved 8.4-inches of ground clearance. X-Line variants get 20-inch gloss-black wheels, while X-Pros get more aggressive all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels. However, the packages stop short of adding serious off-road equipment like underbody skid plates and electronic modes for rough conditions.

2. Potent Powertrain

The sole powertrain remains the same 291-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine that has powered the Telluride since its debut; it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and comes with either front- or all-wheel drive. We’re ok with that because the powertrain delivers refined and powerful acceleration, even if it doesn’t feel all that quick under light throttle. Put your foot into it, and the Telluride responds with smooth shifts and a pleasing exhaust note. Towing capacity is a respectable 5,500 pounds when properly equipped.

3. Decent Handling

There’s no getting around that the Telluride is a substantial three-row SUV, but it rides and handles well for its size. The ride is comfortable with either 18- or 20-inch wheels and tires, and steering is nicely weighted with more feedback than is typically found in the class. While sporty is not a word we’d use, the Telluride can hold its own on twisty roads, and its brakes are more than up to the job of bringing it to a stop.

4. Tech and Comfort Upgrades

Tech upgrades for 2023 include a new 12.3-inch touchscreen mounted atop the dash and an optional second 12.3-inch screen for the instrument panel. Thankfully, Kia has chosen to retain easy-to-use knobs and buttons for some climate and audio functions. Other available new features include a rearview camera mirror, a 360-degree camera system with 3D view, front seats with a mild massage function on top trims, and second-row captain’s chairs that can now be heated and ventilated.

5. Loads of Room

The Telluride’s cabin remains a strong suit and is surprisingly roomy for its size with an excellent driving position and good visibility all around. Seats in the first two rows are big and comfortable, with plenty of leg- and hiproom, and there’s plenty of headroom even with the optional panoramic moonroof. The third row is more accommodating than many and even has sufficient room for adults.

6. Solid Value

A base 2023 Telluride LX with FWD starts at just over $37,000 (all prices include a $1,335 destination charge). That makes it an impressive and well-equipped value among mid-size three-row SUVs. What’s even more notable is that the top SX-Prestige X-Pro comes to $54,120, a flat-out bargain compared to some loaded competitors, and the SX-Prestige X-Line starts at $53,120.

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kia-telluride-x-pro-2023-36-exterior-rear-angle 2023 Kia Telluride | photo by Aaron Bragman

Things We Don’t Like

1. Road Noise

As much as we like the Telluride’s ride and handling overall, a significant amount of road noise finds its way into the cabin with either tire choices. In addition, the all-terrain tires tend to wander some on the highway.

2. Tread Lightly

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with the new X-Line and X-Pro trims and their more rugged appearance, neither should be considered truly off-road packages. There’s no question that increased ground clearance and all-terrain tires can help with capability, but the lack of a proper low range and underbody protection means the Telluride is better suited to gravel roads and deep snow than real off-roading.

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