The 2022 Kia Telluride still tops our family-SUV shopping list with its handsome looks, great space, plentiful features, and long warranty. The Telluride three-row crossover SUV seats seven or eight, polishes its top trims with luxury touches. It’s a rival for cars like the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, and its platform mate, the Hyundai Palisade.
Not much has changed for the award-winning Telluride. For 2022, all models adopt a 10.3-inch touchscreen and automatic climate control, while LX and S editions gain adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go control and still sold in LX, S, EX, and SX versions.
The handsomely drawn Telluride blurs the line between mass-market and luxury SUVs. With square-rigged corners and a suitably softened cockpit, the Telluride lifts the best luxury-car cues and SUV riffs and blends them together with an expert hand. With a faint whiff of GMC in its outline, the Kia Telluride has a purposeful but chunky vibe that’s appealing from nearly every angle. Narrow, upright headlights and a substantial grille lay out a hefty stance that doesn’t play voluptuous games with the eyes, like the Stinger mid-size hatchback. The hype doesn’t lay false claim on rugged SUV stereotypes; it reads more like a smartly executed family wagon, and looks great on big 20-inch wheels to boot.
The Telluride isn’t quick, but it is competent and has a serene ride. With a V-6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, an independent suspension front and rear, and available all-wheel drive, the Telluride ticks all the big-crossover boxes. All versions can be upgraded from standard front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive.
The 291-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 found under the Telluride’s hood may sound familiar; it’s shared by the Hyundai Palisade. Teamed with an 8-speed automatic, it doles out power to the front wheels or to all four wheels. Curb weight comes in around 4,500 pounds in top trims; as physics tells us that makes for fuss-free acceleration, not fierce forward motion. It’s better at mid-speed passes; the automatic’s always up for a quick and clean shift, but putting it into a sport drive mode damps the already middling fuel economy. Kia’s V-6 doesn’t have the ripe growl of a Honda V-6, either, but it’s smothered by thick glass.
The Telluride’s better at towing and traction. With all-wheel drive, it can pull up to 5,000 lb, and with its all-wheel-drive system locked in a 50:50 power split at speeds of up to 40 mph, it’s a good tool to carve up wintry roads when absolutely necessary.
The ride’s the reason to admire the Telluride, even when it’s shod with 20-inch wheels that come standard on nearly every version. Base versions (which we haven’t driven) may do better at high-velocity bump-snuffing, but the Telluride SXs and EXs we’ve driven hone down nasty pavement ripples with ease. The Telluride stays composed and mostly unbothered. We wouldn’t mind if the steering took the lead: it picks up weight in some drive modes without matching that with strong feedback.
Fuel economy’s OK in the Telluride, it is a large SUV after all. It’s similar to gas-only crossovers of its size, but the three-row Telluride doesn’t offer a hybrid powertrain as some rivals do. Based on EPA ratings of the front-drive Telluride: 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. The ratings fall to 19/24/21 mpg with all-wheel drive. Those ratings are roughly equal to direct competitors, but the 36-mpg Toyota Highlander Hybrid puts the Telluride in an awkward place, albeit with much power.
The Telluride collects all the safety trophies. The NHTSA gives the Telluride five stars overall with four-star ratings for frontal protection and the IIHS calls some versions a Top Safety Pick. The IIHS award only applies to Telluride EX SUVs with optional LED headlights and the SX model. Other versions have “Poor” headlights and don’t merit the award. All Tellurides get standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. The Telluride SX also comes with automatic high-beam headlights, front parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system; a head-up display is available.
The Telluride cabin boxes out maximum space while steering clear of retro riffs. The wide and low dash sits under a billboard-style 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Base versions wear plainer beige or black trim, while the Telluride SX conjures a mountain resort with its wood trim and plush nappa leather. It’s particularly handsome in off-white, though that brings with it the anxiety of spilled juice boxes.
The Telluride’s long and wide, so seating up to eight passengers isn’t taxing and gladly welcomes a lot of people and a lot of cargo. Finely finished and rigged with good cargo space to boot. The Telluride measures almost exactly the same as its Hyundai Palisade kin, with a 114.2-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 196.9 inches.
Base crossovers have manually-adjustable front seats with synthetic leather, but the S model upgrades to an eight-way power driver seat. Telluride EX and SX SUVs get leather upholstery and a power passenger seat, with a nappa-leather option on the SX. In every Telluride we’ve driven, the driving position and space surrounding front passengers has impressed us, and so has the small-item storage for keys and smartphones.
The second row can be configured as a bench seat or with two captain’s chairs. In either case the Telluride has plenty of space for large adults. The seats fold and slide forward to grant better access to the third-row seat, which also has enough room for adults, albeit for shorter trips. There’s as much room in the back as some minivans. Some 21 cubic feet of cargo space exists behind that third row. With that seat folded out of the way the Telluride offers up 46 cubic feet. Fold the middle seats away and space blooms to 87 cubic feet.
Kia screws together the Telluride with obvious care, and lines it with well-chosen materials that render the interior more expensively than it actually is. The Telluride SX takes it a step further with chrome and wood and leather, a suede headliner and nappa hides, at the top of its game, and in the process makes some truly expensive vehicles look chintzy.
Its infotainment and warranty are great, which makes the Telluride an excellent value. Kia doesn’t offer many options on the Telluride; it bundles them in packages instead. Regardless the 2022 Telluride’s an amazing value, from its standard features to its excellent infotainment interface to its 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
The $34,015 Telluride LX doesn’t fail with its standard active safety features, power features, eight-passenger seating, keyless start, and its newly standard 10.3-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Spend $2,000 more and all-wheel drive is yours. The $36,515 Telluride S piles on heated front seats, a power driver seat, 20-inch wheels, and second-row captain’s chairs.
We like the $39,015 Telluride EX, which gains wireless smartphone charging, leather upholstery, a power tailgate, cooled front seats, and a sunroof. The $43,915 Telluride SX remains our stretch recommendation: It’s a luxury crossover in all but price with its surround-view camera system and Harman Kardon audio, even before you spend another $2,000 for nappa leather, a head-up display, heated and cooled second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel.
Kia has come a long way in a short amount of time. Nothing is more evident of that than the 2022 Telluride which has quickly become top dog in its class. With inoffensive bold looks, as much room as some minivans, and topnotch technology with a great value proposition; it’s easy to see how the Telluride is stellar. For those looking to try something new and step out of the current large SUV flock, the 2022 Kia Telluride is definitely worth a look.
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