Our praise for the Kia Telluride has been on repeat for the last year and that's for good reason: it's fantastic.
The large made-in-America three-row SUV was named The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2020, and Kia couldn't build them fast enough to satisfy initial demand.
The Kia Telluride earned a TCC Rating of 7.5 with a spacious interior, chic looks, good standard features, and great standard safety gear to be named The Car Connection's Best Family Car To Buy 2021.
While most family vehicles prioritize the interior layout such as last year's winner in the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, the Telluride makes a statement the moment it rolls up. The squared-off design looks like it might cost double that of its sticker price, especially in loaded SX spec. The traditional box-like SUV design is refreshing in a sea of soap-like family haulers.
2021 Kia Telluride
Inside, the Telluride's car-like interior features a horizontal dashboard with easy-to-use buttons and knobs. Plush nappa leather is available in a gorgeous shade of brown for a real luxury feel, or white if that's your thing.
Tellurides use a 3.8-liter V-6 with 291 horsepower coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It comes with front-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is available for $2,000. EPA-rated fuel economy rings in at 19 mpg city, 24 highway, and 21 combined with all-wheel drive, or 20/26/23 in front drive. The V-6 gets the job done, but with as much as 4,500 pounds to lug around no one will call the Telluride quick. Mid-range passes are acceptable thanks to deft gearbox programming. The all-wheel-drive system can notably lock the axles for better grip in slipper situations. Tellurides can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.
People? Stuff? Pets? The Telluride's boxy design is great at hauling all the things. It has three adult-sized rows of seating with a third row that's as easy to access as the push of a button. While some models can haul eight people, higher trims haul seven thanks to second-row captain's chairs. Tellurides can tote up to 21 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row and 46 cubic feet behind the second row of seats. Fold both rows and cargo capacity swells to 87 cubic feet of space.
Top-spec SX and EX models were named a Top Safety pick by the IIHS, but other models don't get the nod for lacking the available uprated LED headlights. The NHTSA gave it five stars overall, but only four stars for front- and side-impact protection. Every Telluride has automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. Fancy tech like a surround-view camera system and head-up display can be optioned.
While the Telluride you want is about $45,000, the cost of entry is a reasonable $33,160. In base form it's well equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, smartphone compatibility, and keyless start. Upper trim models ditch the smaller infotainment screen for a 10.3-inch setup and can add a Harman Kardon sound system.
The Kia Telluride is a stylish family hauler that looks like a luxury vehicle, but can fit eight. As families continue to prefer three-row crossover SUVs over minivans, the 2021 Kia Telluride proves that form matters as much as function.
Read all about the winners of The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2021 awards—and find out which vehicles took home our annual Driver’s Choice awards as well as top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.