2023 Kia Telluride Is Luxe, Loaded, and Affordable

2023 Kia Telluride
Meet the 2023 Kia Telluride. Photo: Jill Robbins

Kia Telluride is still going strong after an award-winning rookie year.

This three-row SUV is a relative newcomer on the car scene. Introduced in 2020, it hit the market with a bang and garnered the title of World Car of the Year at the 2020 World Car Awards. Three years later, its still a winner. Meet the 2023 Kia Telluride.

Buckle up for a long list of what I love about the 2023 Kia Telluride. Here’s everything you want to know about what it is like to drive one. For starters, it has a luxury feel, all the tech features you want and need, and it’s wallet-friendly to a wide variety of budgets.

Related: Kia Telluride vs. Hyundai Palisade: These 3-row SUVs Are HOT

I Loved The Dual Moonroofs. Photo: Jill Robbins

I loved the dual moonroofs. Photo: Jill Robbins

The 2023 Kia Telluride Rose to the Occasion(s) During an  Extended Test Drive

I drove the Telluride for two weeks. I drove it across Texas to visit with family in Louisiana. I can tell you what it feels like to be in the driver’s seat for eight hours. On a visit with my daughter and her family of four, and we used the Telluride as people mover for three adults and two kids in car seats.

Then, I headed to Northwest Louisiana, taking the Telluride to a writer’s conference in Shreveport and used it to take four of my girlfriends out to breakfast. I then drove back to Texas and used it as my “mom car” for running my two seventh graders to school and sports practice for the rest of the week. I have a very good read on what it’s like to drive the 2023 Telluride in various situations. I used this three-row SUV for various passenger configurations.

Related: USED: 2020 Kia Telluride SX 3-Row SUV: Bespoke Details at an Off-the-Rack Price

2023 Kia Telluride Has An Updated Exterior. Photo: Jill Robbins

Loved the upgraded 20″ wheels. Photo: Jill Robbins

What’s new for this relative newcomer to the world of SUVs?

The exterior updates include a redesigned front bumper, grille, and headlamps. The biggest change inside is the new digital instrument panel and dual 12.3-inch screens, which we’ll discuss in more detail because we love the large screens.

Related: 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy: This Upscale, Affordable 3-Row SUV Has Me Smitten

Telluride Has A Great Center Console. Photo: Jill Robbins

Telluride has a great center console. You can even put a purse in there. Photo: Jill Robbins

A view from the driver’s seat and my favorite features

I was instantly at home behind the wheel. The Nappa leather seating, the wood trim, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel looked good and felt good. The buttery leather and the comfortable seating made me feel like I was driving a much more expensive car.

I also like the layout of the front console. It had two cupholders, so as the solo driver, I could keep my coffee, soda, and water bottle within easy reach. There were also bottle holders in the doors, which was a handy feature. There’s also a smaller pocket in front of the console cupholders, which is designed to be a spot for your phone or keys, but I was also able to use it for a small water bottle when I needed it.

The Telluride Handles All Kinds Of Cargo. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Telluride handles all kinds of cargo. This is the cargo area with third row folded. Photo: Jill Robbins

My favorite driver features

It’s really about the little things. Quiet Mode is a feature that allows the driver’s media to only be played in the front seat. If your second-row passengers are sleeping or just don’t want to listen to your podcast, it’s an easy adjustment to make. Driver Talk allows the driver to speak to the people sitting in the back without raising their voices. The driver can talk in a normal tone and address the third-row passengers via the speaker system.

The voice of mom is everywhere.

A Loaded-Up Console Makes Life Easy On The Road. Photo: Jill Robbins

A loaded-up console makes life easy on the road. Easy, comfortable, and I can reach everything. Photo: Jill Robbins

Other Driver-Friendly Features I Loved

Okay, so I have a lot of favorites. I spent a lot of time driving this car, and it seemed like I was constantly discovering new things that gave me those “Oh wow!” moments.

Two other features worth mentioning are the “Take a Break” notification and the “Leading Vehicle Departing” feature. The “Take a Break” icon, a little coffee cup, is a smart feature that pops up when the cameras tracking your eye movement patterns indicate you are tired or distracted. I’ve seen this feature on other Kia vehicles and while it might remind you to take a break more often than you want to stop, I think it’s a solid safety feature, especially when you’re driving for a long time.

The “Leading Vehicle Departing” is exactly what it sounds like. If the car in front of you starts moving and you don’t go, the 2023 Kia Telluride will give you an alert that you need to go, too. I discovered this feature when I was stuck in a two-hour traffic jam on Interstate 10 just outside of Houston.

All This and a Massage

I drove the 2023 Kia Telluride from San Antonio, Texas, to South Louisiana and then back up to Northwest Louisiana. I’m not a huge fan of long driving days, but the 2023 Kia Telluride’s Lumbar Support Stabilization feature helped me feel good after being behind the wheel all day.

The Lumbar Support Stabilization setting can be adjusted to turn on the seat massager at 30 or 60-minute intervals. A little notification popped up to let me know when the massage was starting. It was just enough to make me feel like my lower back was getting some extra support and was not at all distracting. You can also disable this feature, but why would you?

Captains Chairs Are Available On All But Two Trim Levels. Photo: Jill Robbins

Captains Chairs are available on all but two trim levels. Photo: Jill Robbins

What’s the Second Row Like?

Only the LX and the EX models have second-row bench seating. All the other models have Captain’s Chairs, which I really liked. The second row was roomy and comfortable for adult passengers. We used two car seats when my two grandchildren rode back here. We installed and uninstalled both a rear-facing infant seat and a booster-style seat for my almost five-year-old grandson.

Car Seats Are So Easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

Car seats are so easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Overall Height and Roominess Made it Easy to Install Car Seats

It was also easy to get the kids in and out. The second-row seating also has seat hooks, pockets, and cupholders for the passengers, as well as USB connectors and an electrical outlet. The SX-Prestige and above models have heated and ventilated second-row seating, which is a great feature if you regularly have out-of-the-car seat-age kids who sit in your second row. I have a 12 and a 13-year-old, and they appreciate having that feature for their comfort.

Important to note the lower trim models that don’t have the Captain’s Chairs in the second-row seat eight people versus seven people. If having room for that extra person is important to you, you might want to look a the LX and EX models.

Roomy Enough For Kids Or Shorter Adults. Photo: Jill Robbins

Roomy enough for kids or shorter adults. Photo: Jill Robbins

The Third row Low-Down

I climbed into the third row to test things out, and my son-in-law rode back there during our visit. While he and I agreed that it wouldn’t be a comfortable place to sit for a long drive (I’m 5’11, and he’s a little taller than me), it worked for short trips.

The second-row seats were easy to maneuver, and while climbing in and out of the third row isn’t the most graceful or comfortable movement, it’s not impossible. I wouldn’t want to attempt it in a dress and heels. For kids or more petite individuals, it’s fine. One of my friends that rode to breakfast with me is 5’2 and reported being quite comfortable in the third row.

Putting The Third Row Up And Down Is Easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

Putting the third row up and down is easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

I Loved the Ease of Putting the Third Row Down

Even if having a third row is at the top of your list of must-have car features, you’ll probably not always have your third-row seats occupied. Sometimes, you’re going to want that third row folded down to give you more room to haul groceries, sports equipment, or supplies for your gardening or home improvement projects.

Having third-row seating that requires a workout to reconfigure the seats is a drag, but the 2023 Kia Telluride makes it as easy as easy can be. It takes virtually no brain work to figure out how the seats go up and down. It’s quick, and you can do it without a hair out of place.

You can also recline just one side of the third row, depending on how you want to set things up or who is riding with you.

Would You Be Happy In A Telluride? I Would! Photo: Jill Robbins

Would you be happy in a Telluride? I would! Photo: Jill Robbins

Nine Trim Levels to Choose From

I drove the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line V6 AWD, which was what you see here. The 2023 Kia Telluride comes in eight other trim levels. The SX-Prestige X-Line is the second from the top of the line.

You can compare the differences between the various trim levels via this chart on Kia’s website. Price-wise, there’s a vast difference between the starting price between the LX and the SX-Prestige X-Pro. You’ll see a $17,000 jump from the basic model to the top of the line.

Here are the exact specs for the Kia you see in the pictures

LX to SX-Prestige X-Pro: Choices, Choices, Choices

  • LX
  • S
  • EX
  • EX X-Line
  • SX
  • SX X-Line
  • SX X-Pro
  • SX-Prestige X-Line (what I drove)
  • SX-Prestige X-Pro

From Basic and Functional to Options Galore

The LX comes with four exterior color choices and no options for the interior color. The models above the LX have between six to nine choices for paint color and two to four for the interior color.

The SX models and above come with dual sunroofs, a feature I enjoyed. In general, the higher trim levels are going to come with sleeker exterior details, such as wheel finish and elevated trim and molding.

All models come with a nice-sized 12.3-inch touchscreen display, which is a great feature for the driver and the front-seat passenger who might be assisting with navigation or picking the music. SX and above models also have a larger instrument display.

The little details that make the 2023 Kia Telluride such a pleasant experience for the driver, such as interior mood lighting, bottle holders in the doors, a digital key, wireless charging, and heated/ cooled second-row seating, are going to come at the higher and more expensive trim levels, so compare across the chart to see what niceties are the most important to you.

What this Car Costs

The starting price for the 2023 Kia Telluride LX is $35,890. The starting price for the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Pro is $52,958.

Pictured is the 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige X-Line. It comes in at $52,785. It has $1,000 worth of extra options added to it, including the Wolf Gray exterior paint color and the terra cotta interior package.

Standard features on the SX-Prestige X-Line that really popped for me are auto rain-sensing windshield wipers, the sweet Harman Kardon® premium audio system with 10 speakers, the Nappa Leather seats, and the Driver Talk feature that allows me to speak to the people in the second and third rows without shouting.

I’m kind of a bells-and-whistles person. I budget for the niceties in a vehicle. However, if you’re willing to go a little more bare bones and don’t mind limited color choices, you could still get a great-looking, roomy third-row SUV and have a solid drive experience with one of the lower-priced Tellurides.

A+ Family Car. Photo: Jill Robbins

A+ family car. Photo: Jill Robbins

Who is This Car For?

The Telluride has wide appeal and generally speaking, it is for anyone who falls in love with it. Here are the top of mind demographics the 2023 Kia Telluride would appeal to.

I used the 2023 Kia Telluride as a solo road tripper and transported kids ages three months through 13.


The Telluride is an obvious choice for families. It  can comfortably seat up to four kids and an average-sized load of groceries. I’ll go a step further and say this is a great choice for families who don’t want a minivan. Also for families who need the room but also like a little get-up-and-go.

Anyone who lists third-row seating as a must-have

Whether you need the extra room to haul people, instruments for your rock band, or tomato plants, that third row is a must, the Telluride is a great and flexible choice.

Drivers who want a luxury SUV and a friendlier price

The Telluride looks more expensive than it is but don’t be tempted to compare it to a knockoff designer handbag. It’s the real deal, but the tall boxy-shaped body is reminiscent of a Land Rover. That, paired with the slick trim and leather seats, just might fool bystanders into thinking you spend over $100K for your car.

You’ll feel equally comfortable handing off the keys to a valet at a five star resort as you will rolling up to the school fundraiser.

Technology lovers

Anyone who is really into all the bells and whistles and smart car features is going to be in seventh heaven behind the wheel of the Telluride.

Related: Nissan Gives the Armada 3- Row SUV and Compact Kicks a Technology Makeover

Probably One Of The Top Driver-Friendly Cars I'Ve Test Driven. Photo: Jill Robbins

Probably one of the top driver-friendly cars I’ve test driven. Photo: Jill Robbins

Towing and Off-Roading

The S, EX, and SX trim levels have tow package options, which includes a factory-installed tow hitch, self-leveling rear suspension, bumper cover and harness. The 2023 model’s towing capacity it between 5,000 and 5,500 pounds. If you want to haul a popup camper or a small travel trailer, the Telluride can pull double duty as your camping vehicle.

While you probably do not want to choose a Telluride if your sole purpose for owning this vehicle is hardcore off-roading. That said, the 2023 Telluride has light-medium offroad capabilities. The X-Line and the X-Pro have are best-suited to adventuring with added ruggedness and capability. The X-Line features higher ground clearance, raised roof rails. The X-Pro has increased towing capability and Continental all-terrain tires.

While I wouldn’t attempt to scale a mountain in a Telluride, it’s not difficult to see that this car could hold its own in the dirt. I drove the Telluride’s much smaller relative, the Kia Seltos, off road and it was a lot more rugged than it looked. I didn’t have the opportunity to off-road in the Telluride I test drove but I’d love to be able to see what it can do.

Kia Telluride Off-Road. Photo Courtesy Of Kia Motors

Kia Telluride off-road. Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

What you need to know

  • The V6 engine makes for some quick acceleration. Watch your speed – you don’t want a ticket!
  • Don’t let the boxy SUV body style fool you. This is not a rough ride. It drives like a sedan.
  • There is no electric or hybrid Kia Telluride available at this time. The average fuel economy is 21 MPG.

Could This be Your Car?

Not gonna lie; I wish it was mine. My husband and I considered buying a Telluride in early 2020 based on the excellent reviews and value. The Tellurides were flying out of the dealerships so fast. They couldn’t keep one long enough for customers to test drive. We weren’t willing to consider ordering a car we didn’t have the opportunity to test drive.

After spending two weeks driving the 2023 model and seeing what a great fit it is for me as a driver, I sure wish I could go back and decide differently, but we all know what they say about hindsight. I don’t base my assessment of a vehicle based on how many “I like your car” comments I get from strangers. That said, the 2023 Kia Telluride was definitely an attention getter and random strangers seemed to be as into it as I was.

It’s definitely a looker, and at $52,000 and nicely loaded, the SX-Prestige X-Line will make a lot of people happy.

Disclosure: Kia provided the 2023 Telluride for me to test drive. All opinions are my own.


A Girls Guide To Cars | 2023 Kia Telluride Is Luxe, Loaded, And Affordable - Review Of The 2023 Kia Telluride A Girls Guide To Cars





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Jill is the oldest mom with the youngest kids pretty much everywhere she goes. She has a 29-year-old daughter... More about Jill Robbins