Everyone knows Kia for building fuel-efficient, reliable cars that are not short on modern features. The Kia Telluride is Kia’s midsize crossover SUV, which is relatively new on the market but has met with considerable acclaim. The 2023 model year marks the third year of the Telluride as a mid-size crossover SUV. Kia is no luxury car maker, yet the Kia Telluride is priced closer to one. So the question here has to be, is the Kia Telluride too expensive?
Background & competition
Crossovers have emerged as the most competitive automotive segment in recent times, and it is not surprising to see exclusive sports car makers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin jump in. But, as we’re discussing a more mainstream crossover, it’s fair to say there are a lot of options out there.
From performance-tuned to luxury and everything in between, you can find a crossover these days to suit almost any taste. But what makes a crossover like the Kia Telluride such an attractive choice, and most importantly, at what cost are they delivered to average users?
By now, almost every automaker has discovered the perfect recipe to build a good crossover, but the car market is here to decide which one really qualifies as a successful model. Since we are discussing mid-size crossover SUVs, let’s explore the options today’s buyers have.
The Kia Telluride has to be a contender when looking for a crossover SUV that represents good value for money. But then every other car maker is here to prove that their crossover SUV is worth the same. The Telluride’s corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, is an equally worthy option that’s also worth considering.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee stands out as a more premium take on mid-size crossover SUVs. The segment’s veterans include the Mazda CX-9, Honda Passport, Toyota Highlander, and Nissan Pathfinder. Offerings originating from the US include the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Chevrolet Blazer, and a few others.
The list doesn’t end here. The Jeep Wrangler 4-door, Ford Bronco (also in 4-door form), and the Toyota 4Runner take a more practical approach and smash the Kia for off-road performance. Then come the luxury mid-size crossovers, but perhaps that’s another discussion.
Here we’re looking at whether the Kia Telluride is a good choice in the first place or not, and lastly, if it is too expensive for the car you are getting.
What are you getting for the money?
Let’s get to business. These mid-size crossovers’ prices range from $30,000 to $40,000 for mainstream models, and only get steeper once you step into premium territory. What really matters is what each of them offers for the money you are paying.
For the sake of keeping the article brief, only popular models in the mid-size crossover SUV category will be compared to what the Kia Telluride has to offer. This way, we can evaluate whether the Kia Telluride is expensive or not for the features it includes. If we look too hard at the very top of the range, that’s where we would have to start considering some luxury contenders as rivals.
To begin with, the Kia Telluride deserves appreciation for providing a well-rounded package along with all the modern features at a bargain price at the lower trim levels, but it can still be seen as a little expensive for a mid-size crossover SUV. This should give you an idea of where this article is headed but is it a surprise that it’s one of their best-sellers?
Kia Telluride engine and fuel economy
For the money you are paying for the 2023 Kia Telluride in base trim ($33,390 at the time of writing), you get a gasoline-powered naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V-6 engine as standard. No matter the trim you select, it will be the only available engine. This engine manages to produce decent grunt and clocks in at 291 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Compared to its rivals, it falls towards the higher spectrum of output figures.
The Kia Telluride is rated at an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined. When equipped with all-wheel drive, this falls to 19 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. Thanks to these ratings, the Kia Telluride is among the best mid-size crossover SUVs.
Interior and features
Interior space is also the main concern for buyers of mid-size crossover SUVs. The Kia Telluride easily beats its main competitor, the Honda Pilot, in passenger space and cargo space. Not only this, but it also manages to beat the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, and even the Hyundai Palisade. It seats eight passengers rather comfortably and has ample interior storage throughout the cabin.
Regardless of how people feel about the Telluride’s striking exterior, there is no denying that its inside is classy and comfy. The build quality is first-rate, the components are lovely, and there are lots of appealing features. Every Telluride comes equipped with a capable infotainment system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen and popular features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, in-dash navigation, and onboard Wi-Fi.
A 110-volt power inverter, a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon music system, and wireless smartphone charging are further offered. To better interact with the passengers in the back rows, a technology dubbed “Driver Talk” amplifies the driver’s voice through speakers in the back two rows. Also included are standard dual-zone automatic climate control with an auto de-fog system and rear passenger automatic climate controls.
The ability to tow is another advantage of owning a Kia Telluride, with a 5,000-pound towing capacity that is pretty good for a crossover. If you want or need more, a more traditional ladder-frame SUV is probably the order of the day.
Although its features and specifications look as though they justify its asking price, it’s impossible to ignore the fact the Telluride is still expensive. Kia should be given some slack here as its main rivals have similar pricing issues. Although it’s hard to find a single reason to justify this, let’s get started with a few we might have.
Is the Kia Telluride that expensive?
Everyone knows the basic principle of supply and demand. right? And it’s hard to deny that these days we demand a lot from our new vehicles. Despite what some might have you think, buyers are flocking to dealerships at the moment in the hope of getting a new vehicle. And since the Kia Telluride is a popular choice, it is definitely being bought in huge numbers.
Keeping production numbers under check is necessary because the actual ability to build that number of Tellurides is limited. Hence, the prices are increased, giving the automaker the added advantage of more profit.
Secondly, the global semiconductor chip shortage is to blame to a major extent. Modern vehicles are piled full of semiconductor chips that control some of the vital functions. The typical modern vehicle can have up to 3,000 chips, with certain models having as many as 4,000 or more.
Starting in 2020, due to the direct effect of COVID-19 restrictions, the production of semiconductor chips declined, but the demand remained the same. This gave rise to a major price increase and a shortage. And any that were being produced got redirected to supply the increased demand for consumer electronics as people were locked in their homes with little else to do.
Since cars account for 15% of global chip production, they took a hard hit. Ford waited for the chips to complete building thousands of unfinished cars before parking them at Kentucky Speedway. In September 2021, Toyota intended to reduce global vehicle production by 40%, while General Motors said it would temporarily suspend manufacturing of practically all cars at its North American plants.
Broadly speaking, there is a general trend in the automotive market of cars getting bigger and better. This needs active development and, combined with the current economic situation, manufacturers are left with the only choice of increasing the price of their models.
Rounding it up, the Kia Telluride is well-equipped and feature-rich. It easily tops the list when buying a non-luxury mid-size crossover SUV. Answering the main concern here, the Kia Telluride is expensive for what it is and the badge it has on its hood, but then every other crossover is these days.
The Kia Telluride makes a case for itself by offering the best-in-class interior space, a potent powertrain, and modern features. This more than justifies the money you are paying.
Still, the current economic situation is not perfect for car buying. Firstly, cars are expensive, then there is a long waiting list, and worst of all, dealers are imposing markups on the most sought-after models.
Similarly, the used car market is also on a roll, and they are also expensive. Leasing is a good option, but then you don’t own the car. Buyers need to weigh all these options and pick one that suits them. This needs a lot of research, but it is not impossible.
If you need a good-quality mid-size crossover SUV that seats up to eight and you’re not obsessed with brands, you’ll struggle to find better for the money than the Kia Telluride. That’s not to say it’s cheap – because it isn’t – but when you compare it to its rivals it’s hard to look beyond the Kia.
So is the Kia Telluride too expensive? Well, yes, it is. But so is every other model in its class if you care to compare them.