Why I Bought a Kia Telluride

When our colleague yearned to improve the comfort and safety of her family that an older vehicle could not provide, she bought a Kia Telluride, and received much more than she expected.

Kia Telluride
Everywhere we go, our Telluride gets a lot of attention. Gotta love the Wolf Grey paint! Photo: Jason Bell

My Kia Telluride Purchase is my Cinderella Story 

Some things in life are just no-brainers. Choosing to buy the highly popular and in-demand Kia Telluride was one of them. But we didn’t just buy it — we hunted down a gorgeous Wolf Grey-painted Telluride SX Prestige all the way from Maryland (we live in Utah) and paid extra to have it shipped our way rather than confront the months-long waiting list at our local dealerships. 

I regret nothing.

Among the decisions I’ve made in my life, I can say that owning a 2022 Kia Telluride SX Prestige has been among the very best. Like any relationship, ours isn’t without its flaws. There are one or two features I wish were different, but by and large, I chose my love, and I love my choice.

If you’re considering getting a Kia Telluride for yourself, it starts at $36,190. And if you want the “TL;DR” version, here it is: Do it. Here’s why I’m happy I did. 

Related: 2023 Kia Telluride: Luxe, Loaded and Afforable

Kia Telluride

We’ve tried to take good care of this thing. Gotta keep it shiny. Photo: Jason Bell

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Long before it graced our garage, we’d heard whisperings about the Telluride and what an amazing value it was for a 7- to 8-passenger midsize SUV with a ridiculously attainable starting price of just over $30k. (Our 2022 Telluride SX Prestige was top-of-the-line at the time and cost us about $50k – and it still feels like a huge bargain.)

They started popping up around town, and every time we saw one drive up or down the street, our heads would turn as if some handsome stranger had just walked into the room. It felt like a car we absolutely had to get to know.

All it took was one test drive, and I was hooked. The Telluride immediately impressed me with its posh-looking cabin, comfy seats, and excellent ride quality. We tested other cars that day, but there was no comparison. I knew what my new dream car was.

Related: 11 of Our Favorite 2 and 3-Row SUVs Built for Adventure and Value

Kia Telluride

Plenty of space for our kids and all of their stuff on family road trips. Photo: Allison Bell

My Car-Buying Love Language

Prior to the Telluride, our family car was a loveable but very old 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser. The biggest impetus for buying a new car was that our kids were routinely getting carsick in the Land Cruiser, and its safety tech wasn’t exactly up to the modern standard. Still hesitant to pay more money for a newer, nicer car, I hemmed and hawed about pulling the trigger on a Telluride.

But my husband, whether out of manipulation or sheer genius, knew exactly how to convince me. 

All he had to do was point out how it was worth every dollar to keep our kids as safe as possible, and there was absolutely no arguing that point. Sure, I felt relatively safe in our Land Cruiser since it was a veritable tank on wheels, but it definitely didn’t have blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, a surround camera system (or even a backup camera), lane-keep assist, or any of the other driver’s assistance features that now seem impossible to live without. In fact, looking back on it, I’m surprised I could see anything at all with nothing but those halogen headlights to illuminate the road. (How did any of us survive before LEDs?)

The Telluride came with all of that and more.

Related: 7 Best Luxury 3-Row SUVs 

Kia Telluride

This photo was obviously taken right after we had the inside of the car detailed. It’s normally not this clean. Photo: Jason Bell

Why We Sprang for the (then) Top Trim

My husband’s persuasive powers didn’t end with merely convincing me to buy a new Telluride. Oh no — he straight up got me to shoot for the moon and pick the SX Prestige trim, which was the range-topping model at the time. 

Here are a few of the features that won me over:

  • A dual sunroof. It may not seem like a big deal, but letting a little extra light shine in the cabin sounded like a good idea for our carsick-prone kids to feel a little less boxed in.
  • High beam assist. Having my headlights automatically adjust to the road conditions has been worth every penny.
  • 10-speaker sound system. I’m a person who likes to sing in the car, and my kids follow suit. Premium sound is worth it, in my book.
  • All-wheel drive. We live in an area that gets heavy snow for several months out of the year. This was a must. And in the 2+ years of owning it, I’ve never had any problems with our Telluride sliding around.
  • Additional safety features. Remember how I mentioned that surround-view camera system? And blind-spot monitoring? And parking monitors? Yep, these were exclusive to the SX trim. Again, worth it.
  • Other creature comforts. By now, you’ll have deduced that I’m extremely spoiled — and I won’t argue with you. The Prestige package for our SX trim also gave us a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated second-row seats (okay, my kids are spoiled, too), and premium Nappa leather upholstery, among other things. Honestly, it would have been worth it for the heated steering wheel alone because it gets pretty darn chilly in the winter where I live.
  • Nightfall Edition. Okay, while I’m confessing things, I might as well admit to being very vain and shallow, too. In addition to the Wolf Grey paint color, we fell in love with the Nightfall Edition package, which added blacked-out features to the exterior. This was only available on the EX Premium or SX trims at the time. Still happy with this choice. 
Kia Telluride

The multimedia system in the Kia Telluride is super easy to use. Photo: Allison Bell

But you Don’t Have to Buy the Top Trim…

There will definitely be those who’ll tell you a lower trim is more than worth it, and I wouldn’t disagree. If you’re on a tight budget, the base LX trim is certainly worth a look! All models get the same 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower, so the driving experience should feel pretty much the same. Also, the base trim gets you automatic emergency braking, a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with navigation, adaptive cruise control, and SynTex-trimmed seats. Not bad for $36k.

Kia Telluride

The spacious trunk of the Telluride is a real treat. Photo: Allison Bell

The List of Things I Don’t Love is Short

Listen — I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect car out there. Everything comes with a little give-and-take, and the Telluride is no exception. For starters, it’s not terribly exciting to drive. Yes, it’s got 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, so it’s definitely competent on the road. But we have noticed the engine wheezing just a tad on steep hills or when we’re trying to overtake someone quickly on the freeway. Just a minor annoyance, though. 

Fuel economy could be better, too. As long as we do a lot of highway driving, the numbers are decent. We’ve gotten up to 28 mpg on road trips! The problem is, I mostly do city driving close to home, and I’m routinely averaging around 17 mpg every time I fill up. Yikes. 

Finally, this might be my biggest gripe of them all: The second-row seatbelt buckles are way too deep in the seats. My 8-year-old has mastered buckling himself, but I still have to reach behind and help my 5-year-old get buckled in when I pick her up from preschool. If they could be just a little more accessible, I’d give the interior a 10/10. 

None of the above complaints are deal breakers, thankfully. But seriously, Kia — let’s do something about those seatbelt buckles.

Kia Telluride

Lots of fun family memories have been made already with this Kia Telluride SUV. Photo: Allison Bell

We’ve Driven a lot of Cars, but the Kia Telluride is still our Favorite

Just one month after buying our Kia Telluride, I started testing out press cars every week. I’ve hopped behind the wheel of everything from a Chevrolet Suburban High Country to a Honda Pilot to a Mercedes-Benz GLS. And you know what? I still prefer the Telluride. That should say something.

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed driving and wouldn’t mind owning many of the press cars that we’ve test-driven over the last couple of years. But from a practicality, value, comfort, and affordability standpoint, the Telluride is my glass slipper. I feel at home while driving it. 

I love that I can load it up with all of our stuff and take it on a long road trip without having to worry about something breaking down. (We have had far fewer incidences of car sickness, by the way.) 

I love that I can fit just as many carpool kids in the car as the mom driving the Suburban — and the Telluride is less cumbersome in the school parking lot.

I love that I feel about as safe as I possibly can driving my kids around in it. On more than one occasion, the emergency braking system has helped us avoid potential accidents!

This car was made for someone like me. I can almost hear it say, “Here, let me do that for you!” when I get behind the wheel. “I’ll keep your hands warm!” “I’ll soothe your aching back!” “I’ll alert you if someone is in your blind spot!” As a mom, it’s nice knowing that my SUV has got my back and makes life a little easier.

The only other car that I’ve come close to considering potentially replacing the Telluride is the very mechanically similar Hyundai Palisade — but don’t tell my Telluride I said that. I’m pretty sure we’re in it for the long haul together. 

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Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell