Of course, there’s always room for updates, upgrades, and fresh ideas. For 2023, Kia introduced the Telluride’s mid-cycle refresh.
Our #VOTY19 – the Kia Telluride – continues to be a benchmark for the mid-size three-row SUV. The multiple-award winning West Point, Georgia-produced vehicle showed that a combination of space, family-friendly ride quality, and absolute gumption absolutely works!
Of course, there’s always room for updates, upgrades, and fresh ideas. For 2023, Kia introduced the Telluride’s mid-cycle refresh. Without making massive changes to the SUV’s essence, Kia did enhance some of its attributes.
For example, Kia knew that their Telluride can be off-road ready. Their initial prototypes and car show models showed off what it could do when equipped with more rugged gear on board. We often wondered what ever happened to those ideas and why weren’t they implemented right off the bat.
Timing is always a problem. Maybe it was too soon to unleash a rugged Telluride? Perhaps now is the time?
Given the latest trends in SUVs – namely the ruggedization of various softroaders and the sudden interest in vehicles, such as the Ford Bronco – Kia finally rolled out a package that had the stuff made for excursions into the woods towards your cabin hideaway.
The X-Pro package attached to the Telluride SX Prestige model is what you’ve been waiting for since the 2019 auto show circuit.
The package includes a set of 18-inch alloy wheels with all terrain tires, specific exterior styling that includes body protection, an increased towing capacity, a tow mode for the transmission, a heavy-duty cooling system, self-leveling rear suspension, and a 110-volt inverter outlet. These features either supplant or are added to the SX Prestige trim. You can also get this in an SX model, as well.
The X-Pro is the biggest headline for this updated 2023 Telluride. The new front clip is another bit of news. The headlamp units take on a new LED design that really makes it pop out more. Th grille texture is more aggressive, as well. I also found that the rear font that says “Telluride” has changed – perhaps to the one introduced on the EV6?
In this blue color, this Telluride tester simply pops out in a crowd. It reminds you that colors do matter in this world.
An even bigger headline awaits inside. The instrument panel has been transformed into a single panel stretching two-third across the dashboard. Again, I point to the EV6, Sportage, and Niro for this transformation. It is a cleaner screen area, split into two separate panels. The instrument cluster is fully digital, but with analog-like dials sandwiching a wide information screen. To its right is the infotainment screen offering all of the connectivity you can imagine – short of wireless smartphone mirroring. Well, you can’t have everything.
What you can have on this SX Prestige X-Pro tester is this luxurious and vehicular appropriate Terracotta upholstery. It is very comfortable and supportive up front, spacious in both the second and third row. In all, there is 178.1 cubic feet of space for you and everything you intend to carry with you.
Cargo space is also generous. It starts with 21 cubic feet behind the third row. If you fold those seats down, you get 46 cubic feet of expanded space. Dropping both the second and third rows of seats will give you 87 cubic feet of seriously loadable shopping space.
While changes are abound inside and out, there is still the 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 that remains at the heart of the Telluride. This engine is powerful, smooth, and subtle. Add the eight-speed automatic transmission and its all-wheel drive system for a solid driveline that delivers the goods.
While delivering the goods, one must be cognizant about fuel consumption. With that said, I was able to eek out 21.2 MPG during my time with it.
There is a bit of a surprise to the X-Pro package. While others have complained about the loss of ride quality with the all-terrain tires, I did not observe any. Even as I tried to dodge the potholes that define the roads of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Telluride rode smoothly and absorbed the road just fine.
I mention “dodging the potholes.” That is where the Telluride’s competent handling comes into play. You can maneuver this big SUV with ease and relative precision. The steering system is very responsive, even though there were times when it floats on-center. In turn, the braking system was superb, with solid pedal feel and great response at the wheels. Stopping power was there for good stops in normal and panic situations.
When the Telluride won #VOTY19, I praised it for being a great value at the time. Well, times have changed. So has the marketplace. Therefore, this 2023 Telluride SX Prestige X-Pro all-wheel-drive tester came with a sticker price of $55,120. Don’t fret! There are ten trim levels to choose from, starting at $35,890.
With this round of updates and additions, the Kia Telluride remains one of the leaders in the family-friendly, mid-size, three-row SUV segment. It does so by giving you the space you need and the performance you asked for.
Is that all? Well…you could say “yes.” However, one could try to look ahead for any new competitors that may want to steal its thunder. Then again, have you seen the prices of its rivals, lately?
Perhaps the term “relative value” should be the driving factor towards considering the latest version of #VOTY19. It is still one of the best vehicles of its kind out there.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Kia America
All photos by Randy Stern