Kia Telluride Vs Toyota Highlander: Fully Compared

What’s the difference between Kia Telluride vs Toyota Highlander? Well, Kia is one of the top-rated and most reliable car brands in the world. On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander is one of the most coveted SUVs from the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota.

The Kia Telluride is a great ride, no doubt, but the Highlander has topped numerous automobile charts for reliable rides for many decades.

Comparing the Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander is quite close because the two rides offer three-row seating, are stocked with a ton of impressive new techs, and there’s an all-wheel drive option for going off-road. Also, both cars are made by Asian automobile manufacturers – Kia (South Korean) and Toyota (Japan).

In this article, we’d compare these two vehicles head-to-head so you can easily know which of them is best for you to buy at the moment.

Kia Telluride

Since its debut in 2019 for the 2020 model year, the Kia Telluride has remained at the top in many charts; it has been trending since its debut, thanks to the exterior and interior design – a pure definition of class and premium quality.

No, the Kia Telluride is not a luxury ride, but it is definitely not a standard one. Let’s say it sits between a standard SUV and a luxury SUV; better to call it a “Premium SUV.” It does come with quite many premium features you won’t find in most cars of its caliber.

Kia Telluride won the 2020 Word Car award – it is a decent option for anyone that loves driving classy SUVs. Of course, you can take this ride off-road, but you have to pick a suitable off-road trim.

The Kia Telluride is built on a platform with its sister model, the Hyundai Palisade, and at the same time, it comes with a lot of similar features to the Toyota Highlander built from 2020 upwards – you’ll get to love this ride, definitely.

Toyota Highlander

Here comes the boss! Many people wouldn’t find it difficult to buy a Toyota Highlander with over 200k miles on the odometer; what does that imply? It means many people have confidence in the reliability of Toyota SUVs, particularly the Highlander and 4Runner series.

Yes, the Highlander is quite a strong ride and has won several awards since it first appeared in North America in 2001. Having been manufactured for more than two decades, the Highlander has been facelifted and upgraded for different model years.

As many would say, “you can’t go wrong with a Toyota,” Highlander is one of the biggest offerings from the Japanese automaker. Whether you’re going off-road or going to tow some stuff – at some point – with your car, the Toyota Highlander can come in handy.

In any list of the “best three-row SUVs to buy,” the Toyota Highlander would definitely make it to the top five – it is such an impressive and power-packed ride you would come to love. Talking of space, comfortability, hi-specked techs, safety features, and more, the Highlander fits in.

Relationship Between the Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander

Before the Kia Telluride, the Toyota Highlander championed many listings for the best mid-size, three-row, reliable SUVs and other similar lists. But then came the Telluride in 2020, and it has dethroned the Highlander in some of these listings.

Notwithstanding, the Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander are both outstanding SUVs sold at almost the same price (for the base/standard version). Also, these two rides offer almost the same size, cargo capacity, weight, length, and features.

One of the main things that distinguish between the Telluride and the Highlander is the engine options; Toyota offers a four-cylinder hybrid version of the Highland – you can’t find that for the Telluride. Now, let’s get down to clearer details in comparing these SUVs.

Kia Telluride Vs Toyota Highlander: The Comparison

Model/FeatureKia TellurideToyota Higher
Seat rowsThreeThree
Engine Options3.8L V6 (Gasoline)2.4L I4, 3.5L V6, and 2.5L I4 (hybrid)
Fuel Economy24 – 26 MPG (HWY)27 – 29 MPG
Transmission8-speed A8LF1 automatic8-speed automatic
Trim Levels LX, S, EX, SX, X-Line, and X-ProL, LE, XLE, Limited, XSE, and Platinum
Rating (J.D. Power)85 out of 10082 out of 100
Towing Capacity5000 pounds5000 pounds
Price$30,000 – $44,000$30,000 – $44,000

Note: This comparison is mainly based on the 2022 Kia Telluride and the 2022 Toyota Highlander.

1. Engine, Transmission, and Acceleration

Both the Telluride and Highlander come with a standard V6 engine, but the Telluride particularly comes with a 291-hp, 3.8L engine that goes from 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds, while the Highlander comes with a 295hp 3.5L engine that accelerates as quickly as the Telluride.

Also, these two rides come standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission. While the Kia Telluride produces up to 262 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm, the Highlander produces 263 pound-feet of torque at 4700 rpm.

2. Drivetrain and Fuel Economy

The Telluride offers an AWD lock mode; with its 8.0 inches of ground clearance, you can drive through any off-road path without worries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2022 Kia Telluride’s FWD is rated 23mpg in city and highway driving, while the AWD is rated 21 mpg combined.

On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander doesn’t slack on any aspect. It is a powerful SUV with the right features you need. The V6 Highlander has two AWD systems; you have to choose one for yourself.

The base AWD system offers selectable terrain modes and hill-descent control. Higher trims offer an upgraded version with torque-vectoring technology to transfer engine torque between the rear wheels for more gripping.

Just like the Telluride, the Highlander has up to 8 inches of ground clearance level, which makes it suitable for any off-road terrain.

The AWD on the 186hp 2.5L, the 4-cylinder hybrid model, delivers wells, too – featuring a rear-drive electric motor. The hybrid Highlander comes with an electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT).

Down to the fuel economy ratings of the Highlander, EPA ratings state 24mpg in combined city and highway driving with FWD and 23mpg with AWD.

3. Towing Capacity

Well-equipped Toyota Highlanders and Kia Tellurides can tow up to 5,000 pounds of weight, but Highlander Hybrids can only tow 3,500-pound tons – with 175 pound-feet of torque. So, standard Highlander and Telluride let you tow the same amount of load.

4. Safety Features and Specs

Well, the 2022 Kia Telluride and 2022 Toyota Highlander come with a long list of impressive features (both standard ones and add-ons). Starting with Telluride, it compiles many driving assistance systems (ADAS) into a tech called Kia Drive Wise.

The Kia Drive Wise tech offer the following as standard feature: forward-collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning (LDW), pedestrian detection, active blind-spot warning (BSW), lane-keeping assistance (LKA), and rear cross-traffic alert – to mention a few.

As usual and expected, the 2022 Toyota Highlander didn’t slack; it comes with a standard ADAS package called Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+).

This package includes almost everything in the Kia Drive Wise, excluding the BSW and rear cross-traffic alert features. Toyota’s BSW feature comes standard with the LE trim or higher.

The Highlander also comes with a hi-tech evasive steering assistance (ESA) that actively assists with the steering when a collision is imminent. Higher trims of the Higher feature front and rear low-speed automatic braking.

Both the Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander have a 5-star overall NHTSA safety rating, but the IIHS rates the 2022 Highlander a “Top Safety Pick+” —the Institute’s highest designation for safety.

5. Media and Infotainment

Kia Tellurides (lower trims) come standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration; higher trims come with an upgraded 10.2-inch display with an integrated factory navigation system.

Notwithstanding, all models come with up to six USB ports, with some trims offering an additional wireless phone charging pad.

Similarly, the 2022 Toyota Highlanders come with an 8-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. While some higher-trim models come with a 12.3-inch widescreen display. Both infotainment systems come with a factory navigation system, and you’re getting up to five USB ports.

6. Design and Build

From the inside to the outside, the Telluride and Highlander are simply astonishing. The cabins and seat arrangements are pretty enchanting, and there’s a lot of space for passengers and cargo.

Passengers can easily get into any seat position in the three rows of seating. In higher trims, there’s a separate rear air conditioning unit.

Behind the last row seat, the Kia Telluride offers 21 cubic feet of cargo space and 46 cubic feet if you fold the third row. The Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer so much space with the third-row seat rolled up; it’s just 16 cubic feet. But with the third row rolled down, you’re getting 48.4 cubic feet.

Frequently Asked Question

Why is the Kia Telluride Rated so High?

Ever since its first debut, the Kia Telluride has remained on top of the charts across many listings regarding mid-size SUVs. It is undeniably popular in the US because of its impressive interior and standard features.

Also, the ride is rated high because it is made with high-end, sturdy materials and features a wealth of tech, safety, and comfort features.

Which is Best to Buy, The Telluride or Highlander?

Well, Toyota loyalists would definitely stick with the Highlander – it’s been around for a long time and has proven to be a super reliable SUV series. On the other hand, the Kia Telluride is relatively new but has, so far, established an impression of being a dependable SUV for the family.

Choosing between the Telluride and Highlander would be largely based on individual sentiment because, basically, both rides offer almost the same thing and sell at the same price range.

Is Telluride Considered a Luxury SUV?

No, it is not a luxury SUV, but it looks pretty much like one. The Telluride sits between a luxury SUV and a classy standard SUV – call it a “Premium” ride, which could be the best way to address the Telluride. Notwithstanding, you’d find a lot of luxury features on the $33k Telluride SUV.

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